I am curious. The modern day prison systems are far more lenient and the convicts come out hardened and more bitter than when they went in. My question, is did the convicts back then come out into society more dangerious, or broken? I do imagine it was a mix of both, but does anyone know what the percentage was, high or low, of repeat offenders on average?
Ken -- This is speculation, but bad food, hard beds, and no women must have played a big part in keeping those rascals from return visits to places like Yuma Territorial Prison. The reason I say this, is in today's world, which is in control of the "Politically Correct" wackos, they call going back to prison by a kinder sounding name, "Recidivism."
I have a friend from Britain who tells me their recidivism rate is less than half of what it is here in the U.S. This is probably caused by the liberal wackos forcing the states to furnish incarcerated prisoners with nearly every comfort and convenience known to mankind. Here in California, it costs $40,000 a year, per prisoner.
Thanks for your reply Robert. I live in Oregon where we have a "Kinder, gentler prison system" where Oregon paid for a kidney transplant for a man on death row, believe it or not, because he'd die with out it.. At the present time there is a man on death row sueing the State of Oregon to be put to death. The state's fighting him.. Our Governor stated noone would be put to death while he is Governor. I am a bit off topic, but I do get irritated by the State's lack of justice for the victoms and bleeding heart compassion for the criminals.
I was tryin to find some research on prison conditions and the "Recidivism" rate of those offenders. I agree with you that many would certanly try to go stright and live with a clean slate. Others, for what ever reasons would relapse into their prior life of crime. Like you, I will assume the rates were lower than today of going back to prison.
The prison system just like the school system is a product of the two party system. Government corporatism to be exact.
There are some studies that show that in the late 1880's the crime rate dropped off dramatically, as the younger less battle torn generation (civil war) came into power, but little to nothing about the prison system had changed that or created those statistics most experts agree. Reform in the late 1800's consisted more of work farms and such so that the prisons could make money to accept more prisoners. Read the history of Huntsville and how they almost cornered the market in cotton manufacturing after the war.
Many things IMHO come into play when looking at the correctional facilities in the USA, but most of the "criminals" in prison today go in nonviolent "political/social" prisoners of sorts because of the huge numbers of laws that are in effect, but even in the so-called coddled system we have, come out much hardened and more of a threat to society than they were when they went in. Since employment is already a major issue the odds against obtaining gainful employment for someone who has been incarcerated for numerous years is almost nil, so the only avenue of maintaining an existence is to go back too or delve harder into the criminal element.
Our system is more of a for profit system than a rehabilitation concern. It’s a bug business enterprise that is as things have come today, too big to fail government priority, JMHO, others may vary.
State prisons, up thru the 1930s, were not plleasant places to be. The recidivism rate was actually pretty low, but that may have been because if they went back to crime the law generally said 'Well, you had your chance' & followed that with a load of buckshot. The recidivism rate today is very high among violent criminals, a lot of it due to jail gangs. The recidivism rate for 'white collar' criminals isn't nearly as high as it is for violent offenders.
We also must keep in mind issues like drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, etc.
In the 1880's they would not send people to prison for using cocaine for example. Today it will get you locked up. I've read somewhere around 80% in federal prisons are there for drug related crimes.
I doubt many went to jail for riding while intoxicated.
And, it was accepted if a husband (or wife) wanted to have an "attitude adjustment" on their spouse.
However, I have read many accounts of some of the more hardened criminals that would get out of prison and be back in very soon.
Also, I think men were hanged for a lot of "lessor" crimes, i.e; horse stealing, rustling, etc.
The 2 most common offenses for which people went to city or county jails in the late 19th century were public intoxication--apparently you really had to be drunk--& 'solicitation,' which was women soliciting sex on the streets. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions operated on the 'fee system,' which offered X money for each arrest to the officers, & Y money if the arrest resulted in a conviction. That meant, of course, that folks iwth no money or political pull would get hauled in regularly, while the big shots & the girls in houses were pretty much immune from arrest.
There was a noted brothel in Travis County, Texas, just south of the Austin city limit. It was called La Siesta Motel & run by a madam named Hattie Valdes. The telephone number for the place was 2-2222. I've often wondered how Hattie managed that. Every election year the sheriff would raid her. He'd call Hattie & ask her when it would be convenient for him to raid. She'd give him a date & have 3 or 4 guys who had nothing to lose there for him to arrest. They'd pull them & the girls in, Hattie would come down & bail everybody out, & the operation was safe for the next 2 years.
Here's some statistical information you might find interesting;
The Organization of U.S. Crime Statistics, 1800-1933
Closely related to the structure of U.S. government, the collection of crime statistics in 19th-century America was a matter of the individual state governments and the federal government. In the first half of the 19th century, the individual U.S. states already began organizing the collection of crime statistics (Robinson 1911a; Gettemy 1919). Whereas federal crime statistics comprised only prison statistics until the 1930s, crime statistics of the states included judicial, police and prison statistics. Court or judicial statistics concerned people brought before court, police statistics included crimes reported to the police, and prison statistics applied to convicts.
By 1892, the "great lack of uniformity" was already noted as the major problem of state crime statistics (Pettigrove 1892:4; see Falkner 1892). This lack of uniformity was increased by the fact that different kinds of crime statistics were collected. Some states gathered court statistics as well as prison statistics, which were compiled by sheriffs and keepers of prisons who sent their material to the secretary of state or to state boards of charities and corrections. By 1933, some 22 U.S. states were collecting crime statistics, but mostly these data were criticized for being inaccurate and incomplete. As an overall picture of the crime rate in any one state, the situation was complicated by the fact that several organizations collected crime statistics without much coordination between them.
Federal crime statistics were first collected in the census of 1850 and continued in 1860 and 1870, when the assistants of U.S. marshalls (at that time the official census takers) collected information on people who were imprisoned (Robinson 1911a, 1920; Cummings 1918). In 1880 it was proposed that special census officers would be appointed to collect information on pauperism and crime, specifically on prisoners - a plan which was carried out during the 1890 census. Since 1907 the Bureau of the Census organized the collection of prison statistics, and after 1926 the Children’s Bureau collected juvenile court statistics in collaboration with the National Probation Association. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Prisons published statistics of federal prisoners since 1929.
Considering the multitude of institutions which collected crime statistics, the situation was soon recognized as intolerable (Robinson 1930; Warner 1923a, 1929). An initiative of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in the late 1920s was to bring about change with respect to the lack of uniformity in U.S. crime statistics (Committee on Uniform Crime Records 1929). The Association formed the Committee on Uniform Crime Records and developed a Uniform Classification of Offenses. U.S. Congress authorized the National Division of Identification and Information of the Department of Justice to collect and organize police statistics as recommended by the Association in 1930. By 1933, three divisions of the federal government were involved with the collection of crime statistics: the Bureau of the Census (for prison statistics), the Bureau of Investigation of the Justice Department (for police statistics), and the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Labor (for juvenile crime statistics).
White collar crimes are much more difficult to isolate statistically, and even if there were a consensus (which there is not), accurate statistics are difficult to gather because the crime goes unreported and unpunished so often. The largest majority of the crimes are so well hidden/covered up, to keep them out of the public eye, or they have the appropriate connections within the government, to keep them off the radar of suspicion to begin with.
One white collar criminal can do more damage to society as a whole by the way, than any of the petty criminals that the government spends most of it’s time, energy and the tax payers dollars on. The truly interesting thing about almost all white collar criminals is that they are for the most part, before they are discovered as the criminals they are, recognized as the pillars of the communities they reside in and are considered fine upstanding productive members of society usually above reproach in the first place.
It all depends on who you are and more too the point who you know that keeps you in business, kinda like the madam Charley mentioned, well connected, no pun intended. ;-)
Remember the old saying, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
Just as true today as it was then. Even more so!
Here is what the FBI says about white collar crime;
Lying, cheating, and stealing. That’s white-collar crime in a nutshell. The term—reportedly coined in 1939—is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. It’s not a victimless crime. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three, as in the Enron case).
Today’s fraud schemes are more sophisticated than ever, and we are dedicated to using our skills to track down the culprits and stop scams before they start.