Reformatory Style | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

The Reformatory Style is a correctional approach that focuses on rehabilitating offenders through education, training, and counseling, rather than punishment.

The Reformatory Style of corrections, also known as the Reformatory Movement, emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a response to the harsh and punitive practices of traditional corrections systems. The goal of the Reformatory Style was to reform offenders by providing them with education, vocational training, and counseling to help them reintegrate into society.

The Reformatory Style was based on the idea that criminal behavior was a result of social and environmental factors and that offenders could be rehabilitated through a process of education, self-improvement, and personal transformation. This approach emphasized the importance of individualized treatment and recognized that offenders had unique needs and backgrounds that required tailored interventions.

Reformatory institutions were designed to resemble schools or colleges, with classrooms, workshops, and libraries. Offenders were expected to participate in educational and vocational programs, as well as engage in individual and group counseling sessions. The aim was to provide offenders with the skills and knowledge they needed to lead productive and law-abiding lives.

The Reformatory Style also emphasized the importance of discipline and order, but in a more humane and rehabilitative manner than traditional corrections systems. Offenders were expected to adhere to a strict code of conduct, but the focus was on self-discipline and personal responsibility rather than punishment.

The Reformatory Style had a significant impact on the development of corrections systems in the United States and Europe. Many of the innovations introduced by the Reformatory Movement, such as parole and probation, are still used today. However, the Reformatory Style also faced criticism for its paternalistic and authoritarian approach and for its failure to address the underlying social and economic inequalities that contributed to criminal behavior.

In conclusion, the Reformatory Style of corrections was a significant departure from traditional punitive approaches and emphasized rehabilitation through education, training, and counseling. While it had its limitations, the Reformatory Style paved the way for more humane and individualized corrections systems that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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