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American Corrections

American Corrections
Concepts and Controversies

Second Edition

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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  • Interactive eBook
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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


Say NO to…


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  • high-quality assessment and multimedia exercises

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:

  • Our content delivered directly into your LMS
  • 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

o    Test banks built on Bloom’s Taxonomy that provide a diverse range of test items with ExamView test generation

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

There were a few issues that the book lacked in terms of important cases realtes to certain aspects of corrections that I cover in my classes. I just felt that the Hanser corrections book is better suited for my course and its objectives.

Professor Walker Lee
Social Science, South Georgia State College-Waycross Campus
December 29, 2019
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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