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purposes of prisons

Prisons have four major purposes. These purposes are retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation. Retribution means punishment for crimes against society. Depriving criminals of their freedom is a way of making them pay a debt to society for their crimes. Incapacitation refers to the removal of criminals from society so that they can no longer harm innocent people. Deterrence means the prevention of future crime. It is hoped that prisons provide warnings to people thinking about commiting crimes, and that the possibility of going to prison will discourage people from breaking the law. Rehabilitation refers to activities designed to change criminals into law abiding citizens, and may include providing educational courses in prison, teaching job skills and offering counselling with a psychologist or social worker. The four major purposes of prisons have not been stressed equally through the years. As a result, prisons differ in the makeup of their staffs, the design of their buildings and their operations.

The prison staff is headed by a governor, who directs the operation of the prison. This official is held responsible if there are such problems as riots, escapes, prison mismanagement and brutality towards prisoners. Prison buildings vary greatly in design. Prisons built in the radial design resemble the hub and spokes of a wheel. The cells, dining hall and other facilities extend from the control centre at the hub. Warders at the control centre can observe all activity within the building. Some maximum security prisons use a different design consisting of a long corridor crossed by short corridors that hold the cells and other facilities. Prisoners must use the central corridor when they move from place to place This design allows close supervision by the warders. The high rise design is a vertical version of the corridor design. Prisoners move from floor to floor by lift. Juvenile institutions and open prisons often consist of a group of buildings surrounded by a central square. These buildings may include a library, chapel, dining hall or classrooms.

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