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McCormack, Ernest. Inmate #25401, Missouri Department of Corrections, 1/8/1923 [View Image]
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McCormack, Ernest. Inmate #25401, Missouri Department of Corrections, 1/8/1923
Photo: Missouri State Archives


In 1880, at the seventh annual meeting of the Conference of Charities and Corrections, F.B. Sanborn reported: Governors of States and ministers of religion sit together; public spirited men and earnest women, now that penitentiary science is 100 years old, are beginning to study crime in the person of the perpetrator, and in the interests of society.”  This section details some early history of corrections utilizing presentations and reports from annual meetings of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, among other sources.



  • American Prison Association: ConstitutionThe American Correctional Association has championed the cause of corrections and correctional effectiveness for over 140 years. Founded in 1870 as the National Prison Association, ACA is the oldest association developed specifically for practitioners in the correctional profession. During the first organizational meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, the assembly elected then-Ohio Governor and future President Rutherford B. Hayes as the first President of the Association.
  • Brockway, Zebulon ReedZebulon Reed Brockway (April 28, 1827 – October 21, 1920) — Progressive penologist and originator of the indeterminate sentence and parole system.
  • Corrections: Part I -- Penal and Prison ReformReport given at the Seventh Annual Conference of Charities and Corrections, 1880. Read By Henry W. Lord, Chairman of The Committee. "Not the slightest idea of organized reformatory measures as connected with prisoners, ever entered into the hearts of men until almost within the memory of persons now living; and the first thought of systematized prison labor as an element of discipline was an American idea, reduced to practice in the early part of the present century."
  • Corrections: Part II - Background and Jails 1878Presentations and reports of standing committees at the annual meetings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction during the late 19th century reveal that social welfare leaders and progressives were actively involved in efforts to reform the nation’s criminal justice system.
  • Corrections: Part III -- A Model Prison System 1878Prison Discipline In General: The Elmira System - A letter From Z. B. Brockway of Elmira, N.Y., To F. B. Sanborn of Concord, Mass. Presented at the Fifth Annual Conference of Charities, 1878. "Labor for prisoners lies at the very foundation of their reformation; and I hope to see, before I die, the great army of idle prisoners, congregated in the common jails of our land, brought together in workhouses, where they shall be wisely and profitably employed, and held in such custody as shall protect society from their crimes, or the burden of their support as paupers, -- held until they give evidence to experts of cure or reformation."
  • Corrections: Part IV - Reformation As An End In Prison Discipline"Reformation as an End in Prison Discipline: Report of The Standing Committee," by F. H. Wines, Chairman. ,A presentation at the Fifteenth Annual Session of The National Conference Of Charities And Correction, 1888. "We assert, therefore, that there can be no recognition of reformation as an end in prison discipline in any prison where the warden or superintendent is not, by his education, habits of thought, personal character, and conviction of duty, qualified to administer to convicts the moral treatment which they require."
  • Corrections: Part V - Progress: 1873-1893"The Prison Question: Progress Over Twenty Years, 1873-93," by General R. Brinkerhoff, Chairman, Committee on the History of Prisons. "In a resume of progress for twenty years in so large a country as the United States, of course only a brief outline..."
  • Corrections: Part VI - The Treatment of The Criminal: 1904By F. H. Wines, LL. D., Chairman of Committee on Treatment of Criminals. "The subject assigned to this committee is the treatment of the criminal, a subordinate phase of the larger problem of the treatment of crime. The criminal is the concrete embodiment of the abstract conception of crime. Crime is an act, while the criminal is the agent of the act; but there can be no act without an actor, and it is through the criminal that the law strikes at crime, which it is the aim of the law to prevent or to suppress, caring little for the criminal actor, but much for the victim of his deed."
  • Corrections: Part VII - Trends In Criminology - 1924Presentation given by S. Sheldon Glueck, Instructor, Criminology and Penology, Department of Social Ethics, Harvard University, at the Proceedings Of The National Conference Of Social Work Fifty-First Annual Session, 1924. "These conditions make it clear that we must first deal with the traditional need for definite, legislative prescriptions in advance, of the length of service attached to each offense, so that the power to deprive of liberty may not be abused; and secondly, we have to deal with the associated problem of lack of co-ordination of effort between the courts, the penal institutions, the parole officers, and social agencies and workers."
  • Corrections: Part VIII - Racial and Migratory Causes of Crime -- 1924Presentation by J. E. Hagerty, Dean, College of Commerce and Journalism, Ohio State University, at The National Conference Of Social Work Fifty-First Annual Session, 1924. "I am not in sympathy with the notion that the immigrant should forget and lose the language and the customs and traditions of the country from which he came...The foreigner, however, should learn the language of the country and the laws of the country. Much of the immigrant's crime has been committed through ignorance, from the lack of knowledge of what he can do and what he cannot do."
  • Friends (Quakers) in Prison ReformThis entry was in the files of Charles Richmond Henderson (1848 – 1915), a notable sociologist and prison reformer. The new note that it struck was its emphasis upon the fact that all the interests of society were affected by the existence of the depraved and unfortunate classes, and that therefore the work in their behalf was a social task which must be shared by the whole community.
  • Girl Problem Grows - Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 5, 1913. Juvenile Court and Juvenile Protective Society, Richmond, VA
  • Hodder, Jessie DonaldsonJessie Donaldson Hodder (1867-1931) was a pioneering reformer in the areas of child welfare, medical social service, and criminal justice. She is best known for her innovative contributions to the welfare of incarcerated girls and women as superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women (1911-1931). Written by Laura J. Praglin, Ph.D., LMSW.
  • Interview With Paul W. Keve, Corrections AuthorityAn interview with Paul W. Keve published in Executive Intelligence Review (1994). He was interviewed by Marianna Wertz. Keve is a leading authority on corrections administration. He retired in 1993 from the Virginia Commonwealth University, where he taught corrections administration, and before that worked in every area of corrections administration, from probation and parole, to prisons and juvenile institutions.
  • Keve, Paul W.Paul Willard Keve was a pioneer in the field of criminal justice, particularly regarding a professional focus on the management and administration of correctional programs and as a professional writer on criminal justice issues.
  • Light, Mattie McNabDuring the past twenty-seven years she has been engaged in religious work, especially devoting her time and talents to evangelistic and rescue work among girls and women. Countless numbers have thus found in her an appreciative and sympathizing friend and a guide and help in time of sorest need.
  • Livingston, EdwardEdward Livingston (May 28, 1764 – May 23, 1836) — Jurist, statesman, elected official and prison reformer
  • Pennsylvania Prison Society"...their object, as stated in their Preamble was to discover “such degree and modes of punishment” as might restore our “fellow creatures to virtue and happiness.” In the spirit of the Founder of Christianity they proposed to extend compassion toward the fallen by “alleviating” the unwholesome conditions in prisons and by mitigating the “unnecessary severity” of punishments."
  • Petersen, Anna M.
  • Virginia Home and Industrial School for GirlsThe Virginia Home and Industrial School for Girls opened in Bon Air, Va., in 1910 as a reform school for the “care and training of incorrigible or vicious white girls … without proper restraint and training, between the ages of eight and eighteen years.”
  • Virginia Industrial School for Colored GirlsThe residents of the Industrial School were, for the most part, delinquent or dependent colored girls sentenced to prison by local judges and then paroled to the school. There were no foster homes for colored girls who needed care and jail or prison was the only alternative. It is reported that several of the girls were “feeble minded” and a few arrived with contagious diseases...the goal of the school was to teach self-direction and character building with the expectation that... a girl could be “paroled” to a private family in the Richmond area and work for normal wages.
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