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American Corrections

American Corrections
Concepts and Controversies

Second Edition
Additional resources:

February 2018 | 512 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

“It is a thorough and focused work on American corrections providing a solid opportunity for students to learn not only how the correctional system works but also to understand its ever increasing complexities.”
                                                                                                                    —Dorie Astle, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

American Corrections, Second Edition offers students a contemporary, issues-oriented introduction that covers every aspect of corrections, prompting students to think critically about complex issues that are affecting the current U.S. correctional system. Incorporating the most recent theory, research, and data available, the Second Edition encourages students to explore the most interesting and progressive developments in correctional policy and practice. Authors Barry A. Krisberg, Susan Marchionna, and Christopher J. Hartney draw from years of professional experience to give students a practical knowledge of corrections, as well as provide a framework for thoughtful analysis into what is plaguing the American correctional system and a realistic exploration of the solutions that could make a difference.

Free Poster: Corrections System Overview

A Complete Teaching & Learning Package

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Part I: History and Sentencing
Chapter 1: The Corrections System
Learning Objectives  
A Legacy of Crisis and Turmoil  
Corrections as a System  
Corrections and Society  
A Critical View of the System  
A Keen Eye Toward the Future  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 2: A Historical Perspective on Punishment and Social Structure
Learning Objectives  
Discerning Historical Constructs  
Penance and Fines  
Social Change in the Later Middle Ages  
The Discovery of Imprisonment  
Galley Slavery, Transportation, and the Emergence of Imprisonment  
The Industrial Revolution and Corrections  
Zebulon Brockway and the Rise of the Adult Reformatory  
Corrections and the Progressive Era (1880–1920)  
After the Progressive Era (1920–1960)  
The Era of Civil Rights and Community Corrections (1960–1970)  
The Prisons Explode (1970–1980)  
The Demise of Rehabilitation and the Get-Tough Era (1970–Present)  
The Return of Enlightened Corrections Policy  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 3: The Purpose of Punishment and Sentencing Trends
Learning Objectives  
How Sentencing Works  
The Presentence Report  
Sentencing Theories  
Contemporary Movements in Sentencing Laws and Policies  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Part II: Correctional Practice
Chapter 4: Jails
Learning Objectives  
The Functions of Jails  
Who Is in Jail?  
Facts About Jails  
Jail Administration  
Jail Procedures  
In-Custody Programs  
Alternatives to Incarceration  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 5: Probation and Alternatives to Incarceration
Learning Objectives  
What Is Probation?  
Who Is on Probation?  
A Brief History of Probation  
Two Key Perspectives on Probation  
Probation Administration  
The Role of Probation Officers  
Sentencing and Investigation  
Violation, Revocation, and Termination  
Does Probation Work? Probation Research  
Alternatives to Incarceration  
Evaluating Alternatives to Incarceration  
Cost Savings  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 6: Prisons
Learning Objectives  
The Means to an End  
Design of Prisons  
What the Numbers Say  
Prison Costs  
The Federal System  
State Prisons  
Military Prisons and the War on Terror  
Security Levels  
The Supermax  
Programs and Services  
The Prison Environment  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 7: Coming Home: Reentry and Parole
Learning Objectives  
Parole as a Form of Community Corrections  
The Early History of Parole  
Parole Basics  
Parole Authorities  
The Challenges of Reentry  
Reentry Data  
Perspectives on the Current Purpose and Practice of Parole  
What Works in Parole  
Evidence-Based Practice and Parole  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 8: Juvenile Corrections
Learning Objectives  
A Brief History  
The Past 30 Years: More Cycles of Scandal and Reform  
The Structure of the Juvenile Justice System  
Characteristics of Juveniles in Custody  
Overrepresentation of Youth of Color  
Young Women and Juvenile Corrections  
Recidivism Rates and Juvenile Corrections  
Juvenile Corrections Fads  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 9: The Corrections Workforce
Learning Objectives  
Corrections Work  
Service Providers and Treatment in Custody  
Why Corrections Work?  
Characteristics of the Corrections Workforce  
Correctional Staffing  
Education and Training  
The Correctional Hierarchy  
Sustaining a Workforce  
Job Stress  
Progressive Developments in Leadership  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Part III: Critical Issues and Policy Questions
Chapter 10: Holding Corrections Accountable
Learning Objectives  
State Regulatory Bodies  
Professional Standards  
Litigating in the Courts to Stop Abusive Practices  
Legislating Reforms  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 11: Corrections and the Color Line
Learning Objectives  
Measuring the Extent of the Problem  
Race and Ethnicity Behind the Walls  
African American Disproportion in the Criminal Justice System  
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the Corrections System  
Native Americans and the Corrections System  
Latinos and the Corrections System  
Immigration and Incarceration  
Understanding the Causes of Racial Disparity in Corrections  
Racial Profiling  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 12: Women in the Corrections System
Learning Objectives  
The “Pink Syndrome”  
The Rising Tide of Incarcerated Women—What the Numbers Say  
Young Women and the System  
Women’s Pathways Into Crime  
A Complex Mix of Risk Factors  
Coping With Incarceration  
Programs and Services  
Operational Issues in Custody  
Conditions of Confinement  
Research on Women and the Justice System  
Moving Forward With Research on Women  
Prospects for Gender-Responsive Programming  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 13: Challenging and Vulnerable Populations
Learning Objectives  
Prisons and Jails as Community Health Providers  
A Wide Range of Medical Problems  
Health Care Services  
Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails  
The Increasing Elderly Prison Population  
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Inmates  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 14: Death Row and the Death Penalty
Learning Objectives  
The Controversial Moral Imperative  
The State of Capital Punishment  
Characteristics of Death Row Inmates  
Legal Challenges to the Death Penalty  
Juveniles and the Death Penalty  
The Death Sentence and Mental Competence  
Innocence and Those Awaiting Executions  
Costs of Capital Punishment  
The Problem of Lethal Injection  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Part IV: The Effectiveness and Future of American Corrections
Chapter 15: The Privatization of Corrections
Learning Objectives  
History and Functioning of Private Prisons  
Major Private Prison Companies  
How Private Prisons Function  
Other Forms of Corrections Privatization  
Private Prison Performance  
Impact of Privatization on Local Economies  
Privatization, Innovation, and Reform  
The Profit Motive and Conflict of Interest  
Contracting, Oversight, and Monitoring  
Are Private Prisons Necessary?  
Further Research  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
Chapter 16: The Politics and Future of Mass Incarceration
Learning Objectives  
Mass Incarceration and Electoral Politics  
In Whose Interest?  
An Opening to Change  
What the Public Actually Thinks About Corrections Policy  
Confronting the Politics of Mass Incarceration  
Is Money the Currency of Reform?  
Recruiting New Allies to Corrections Reform  
Summary: The Way Forward  
Discussion Questions  
Key Terms  
Digital Resources  
About the Authors


Student Study Site

SAGE EDGE FOR STUDENTS enhances learning in an easy-to-use environment that offers:

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in the chapters.
  • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to selected full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter.
  • Carefully selected, web-based video resources feature relevant interviews, lectures, personal stories, inquiries, and other content for use in independent or classroom-based explorations of key topics.
  • Links to podcasts and audio resources cover important topics and are designed to supplement key points within the text.
  • Web resources are included for further research and insights.
Instructor Resource Site

SAGE COURSEPACKS FOR INSTRUCTORS makes it easy to import our quality content into your school’s LMS. Intuitive and simple to use, it allows you to


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For use in: Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace by Desire2Learn (D2L), and Moodle


Don’t use an LMS platform? No problem, you can still access many of the online resources for your text via SAGE edge.


SAGE coursepacks includes:

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  • Intuitive, simple format that makes it easy to integrate the material into your course with minimal effort
  • Pedagogically robust assessment tools that foster review, practice, and critical thinking, and offer a more complete way to measure student engagement, including:

o    Diagnostic chapter pre tests and post tests that identify opportunities for improvement, track student progress, and ensure mastery of key learning objectives

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o    Instructions on how to use and integrate the comprehensive assessments and resources provided

  • Assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE coursepacks) that is tied to learning objectives, and curated exclusively for this text to bring concepts to life and appeal to different learning styles, featuring:
    • Corresponding multimedia assessment options that automatically feed to your gradebook 
    • Comprehensive, downloadable, easy-to-use Media Guide in the Coursepack for every video resource, listing the chapter to which the video content is tied, matching learning objective(s), a helpful description of the video content, and assessment question
  • Video and web resources that bring concepts to life, are tied to learning objectives and make learning easier
  • EXCLUSIVE, influential SAGE journal content, built into course materials, that ties important research and scholarship to chapter concepts to strengthen learning
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer flexibility when creating multimedia lectures so you don’t have to start from scratch but you can customize to your exact needs
  • Lecture notes that summarize key concepts on a chapter-by-chapter basis to help you with preparation for lectures and class discussions
  • Sample course syllabi provide suggested models for use when creating the syllabi for your courses.
  • Integrated links to the interactive eBook that make it easy for your students to maximize their study time with this “anywhere, anytime” mobile-friendly version of the text. It also offers access to more digital tools and resources, including SAGE Premium Video
  • All tables and figures from the textbook

“Complete, up to date, engaging text with unique features making it appropriate for either face-to-face or online courses in contemporary corrections.”

Ronald Everett
University of Alaska Anchorage

“It is a thorough and focused work on American corrections providing a solid opportunity for students to learn not only how the correctional system works but also to understand its ever increasing complexities.”

Dorie Astle
Southwestern Oklahoma State University

“This book is not too thick that students would feel over whelmed by purchasing it or discouraged from reading.”

Makeda Carr
Virginia State University

“I would (and have) highly recommended this text to colleagues because of its direct, comprehensive approach to critically evaluating the current landscape of the American correctional system. I would also mention the critical lens through which the text is written, and emphasize the importance of this perspective as students become educated in the area of corrections.”

Darin Haerle
California State University, Chico

“Provides thought-provoking and well-cited sidebars and extensive and helpful supplemental pedagogical resources.”

Cary Adkinson
Texas Wesleyan University
Key features


  • Up-to-date coverage of today’s key issues reflects the latest developments in corrections, including the fiscal impact of corrections, reforms in corrections, and an expanded use of alternatives to incarceration.
  • Debates around the effectiveness of corrections encourage students to think critically about probation, problem-solving courts, split sentences and flash incarceration, new recidivism studies, rates of racial and ethnic disparity in adult and juvenile corrections, and overrepresentation of youth of color in prisons.
  • Recent trends are discussed to give students a clearer picture of how the correctional system has transformed over the years, including the decline in the practice of incarcerating juveniles in large prisons, the rising incarceration rate for women, the treatment of mentally ill inmates, the increase of private prisons, and more.
  • Incisive exploration of policies proposed by the Trump administration shows students how the current administration’s approach differs from Obama-era sentencing reforms and encourages students to think critically about the potent impacts on the correctional system.
  • New Spotlight boxes introduce students to key issues such as immigration and detention and the opioid addiction epidemic.
  • Updated references, statistics, court rulings, and data help students understand the latest trends in correctional practices.
  • SAGE coursepacks allows instructors to import high-quality content into their school’s learning management system (LMS) with no access codes.


  • The book’s analytic framework focuses on evidence-based issues and significant reform measures that affect the current crisis in the U.S. correctional system to encourage students to think critically about key issues.
  • A unique chapter on privatization (Chapter 15) encourages students to explore the issues surrounding the growing privatization of correctional facilities and programs. 
  • Spotlight features help students focus on key issues in corrections, such as the three strikes law, solitary confinement, and overcrowding.
  • In the Courts features highlight important legal cases by discussing both the facts and the case’s significance to historical developments.
  • A You Decide feature facilitates critical thinking by presenting students with an issues-based scenario and asking them to decide what they think should be done.
  • Learning objectives, end-of-chapter summaries, review questions, and references for further reading and research help students master key concepts and hone their critical thinking skills.
  • SAGE edge provides students helpful tools, including eFlashcards, practice quizzes, a customizable action plan, and more, in one easy-to-use online environment.

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