reformatory


reformatory
/ri fawr"meuh tawr'ee, -tohr"ee/, adj., n., pl. reformatories.
adj.
1. serving or designed to reform: reformatory lectures; reformatory punishments.
n.
2. Also called reform school. a penal institution for reforming young offenders, esp. minors.
[1580-90; < L reformat(us) (see REFORMATION) + -ORY1, -ORY2]

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      correctional institution for the treatment, training, and social rehabilitation of young offenders.

      In England in the mid-19th century, the House of Refuge movement prompted the establishment of the first reformatories, which were conceived as an alternative to the traditional practice of sending juvenile offenders to adult penitentiaries. As the term suggests, these institutions were intended to reform juvenile offenders rather than to punish or exact retribution on them. The methods used to effect reform usually involved a combination of military drills, physical exercise, labour, training for industrial and agricultural careers, and instruction in morality and religion.

      Similar institutions for boys also appeared in the United States in the mid-19th century, and reformatories for girls spread rapidly from the early 20th century. The institutions for girls, which usually were smaller than those for boys, were concerned primarily with controlling sexual promiscuity and teaching domestic skills. As in England, most reformatories for boys attempted to transform young offenders into productive citizens by teaching them vocational skills and instilling in them values such as temperance, economy, and discretion. Many others, however, made little or no effort to reform offenders and were virtually indistinguishable from adult prisons.

      At the turn of the 20th century, the United States developed a separate justice system for juveniles that included special courts as well as reformatories. Strong emphasis was placed on probation and home treatment instead of confinement. Nevertheless, reformatories persisted as the main form of long-term institutional confinement and care for delinquent youths through the first decades of the 20th century. As they increasingly stressed education and came to resemble public and trade schools, the designations “reformatory” and “reform school” were gradually replaced by “training school” or “industrial school.” Although these institutions were often considered “schools for crime,” where confinement gave youths the opportunity to associate with other delinquents and hone their criminal ways, they were not found to produce higher rates of recidivism than more-restrictive alternatives.

      In contrast to the traditional model of most reformatories for boys, which was based on the military camp, the “family reform school model” featured complexes of cottages in rural areas organized so as to provide a home- or family-like atmosphere. This model was popular in France and Germany and later took root in the United States.

      The military model of reformatories became popular again in the last decade of the 20th century. Known as “boot camps,” these programs turned out to be no more effective in reducing recidivism than existing models. In the early 21st century, various types of institutions for juvenile offenders were in operation, including training schools; ranch, forestry, farm, and boot camps; and halfway houses or other group homes.

Gary Jensen

Additional Reading
Books examining reformatories include Meda Chesney-Lind and Randall G. Shelden, Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, 3rd ed. (2004); Gary F. Jensen and Dean G. Rojek, Delinquency and Youth Crime, 3rd ed. (1998); Richard Lundman, Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency, 3rd ed. (2001); and Steven L. Schlossman, Transforming Juvenile Justice: Reform Ideals and Institutional Realities, 1825–1920 (2005).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Reformatory — is a term that has had varied meanings within the penal system, depending on the jurisdiction and the era. It may refer to a youth detention center, or an adult correctional facility. The term is still in popular use for adult facilities… …   Wikipedia

  • reformatory — re·for·ma·to·ry /ri fȯr mə ˌtōr ē/ n pl ries: a penal institution to which esp. young or first offenders are committed for training and reformation Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. reformatory …   Law dictionary

  • Reformatory — Re*form a*to*ry ( t?*r?), a. Tending to produce reformation; reformative. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Reformatory — Re*form a*to*ry, n.; pl. { ries} ( r?z). An institution for promoting the reformation of offenders. [1913 Webster] Magistrates may send juvenile offenders to reformatories instead of to prisons. Eng. Cyc. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Reformatory — (engl., spr. rifórmǟtŏrĭ), Besserungsanstalt (s. d.), aber auch die nach der Besserungstheorie eingerichtete Strafanstalt, so in Elmira (s. d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • reformatory — (adj.) 1704, from pp. stem of L. reformare (see REFORM (Cf. reform)). As a noun, “house of correction for juveniles,” from 1758 …   Etymology dictionary

  • reformatory — [n] reform school boot camp*, cooler*, correctional facility, correctional institution, jail, penal institution, penitentiary, prison, training school; concepts 439,449,516 …   New thesaurus

  • reformatory — ☆ reformatory [ri fôr′mə tôr΄ē ] adj. reforming or aiming at reform n. pl. reformatories 1. an institution to which young offenders convicted of lesser crimes are sent for training and discipline intended to reform rather than punish them 2. a… …   English World dictionary

  • reformatory — n. (now AE; obsol.) at, in a reformatory (he spent time at/in a reformatory) * * * [rɪ fɔːmət(ə)rɪ] in a reformatory (he spent time at/in a reformatory) (now AE; obsol.) at …   Combinatory dictionary

  • reformatory — /rəˈfɔmətri / (say ruh fawmuhtree) adjective 1. serving or designed to reform: reformatory schools. –noun (plural reformatories) Also, reform school. 2. a penal institution for the reformation of young offenders …   Australian English dictionary


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