From the Publishers:
"The abolishment of flogging in 1850 started the U.S. Navy on a quest for a prison system that culminated with the opening of Portsmouth Naval Prison in 1908. During World War I, that prison became the center of the Navy's attempt to reform what many considered outdated means of punishment. Driven by Progressive Era ideals and led by Thomas Mott Osborne, cell doors remained opened, inmates governed themselves, and thousands of rehabilitated prisoners were returned to the fleet. Championed by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt, Osborne's reforms proceeded positively until Vice Adm. William. Sims and others became convinced that too many troublemakers were being returned to the fleet. In response, FDR led an on-site investigation of conditions at Portsmouth prison, which included charges of gross mismanagement and rampant homosexual activity. Although exonerated, Osborne resigned and initiatives were quickly reversed as the Navy returned to a harsher system."
This book by CDR. James Rentfrow, USN (Retired) who currently teaches naval and U.S. history at the U.S. Naval Academy is a look inside of Naval corrections, which in our mind still have a long way to go but....if you are ever caught up in the U.S. naval correction system for a prolonged period of incarceration, unlike the civilian system you are at least reasonably assured of personal safety. The inmates do not run naval correctional facilities from behind the walls. As the book explores there was a brief period in history when that was the case in the naval correctional system, but unlike the civilian system where the problem is currently rampant, the U.S. Navy learned from the experience and corrected it. In today's brigs convicts are not abused, and generally kept safe from predatory convicts. Naval convicts will definitely feel "punished" under the strict discipline that goes with brig confinement but should feel "safe". This alone is a big improvement over many if not most civilian correctional system units. Another thing about naval corrections, convicts generally serve their terms, there is no regular parole system, no interruptions of any self improvement programs the inmates undertake behind bars, generally no time off for good behavior. Compliant, cooperative behavior is the only kind accepted. Unfortunately, upon completion of sentence naval inmates are also discharged from naval service and we don't know how the system does in terms of recidivism.
Perhaps that might be the subject of some future study. We think that civilian correctional professionals might learn something from the naval correctional system experience.
RECOMMENDED for naval professionals and correctional professionals of all stripes, and history buffs.
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