When the United States was founded, there was no organized prison system either at the state or federal level. It was only in the early 1800s, with an increased incidence of immigration and people moving to cities, when the prison system began to first take shape.
One of the most influential models in the prison system was that of the Auburn System, a school of thought that held that prisoners should be completely isolated, having time to reflect upon the crimes that they committed and being subject to intense introspection. This system involved the almost complete isolation of prisoners, with prisoners not even being able to talk during recreation time or in the mess hall.
The Auburn System persisted for almost 100 years, in one form or another. But by the 1920s, it was becoming increasingly clear that the high rates of prisoners going insane as well as the extraordinary rates of recidivism among those convicted of crimes were quickly discrediting the Auburn System. Something was very wrong with the idea of maintaining the complete isolation of inmates.
This led to a gradual loosening of the conditions within the United States prison system. It was slowly recognized that inmates who were able to maintain relationships with prosocial and law-abiding citizens would be more likely to successfully reintegrate into society upon release.
Securus Technologies, one of the largest providers of communications services in the United States, is doing a great deal to allow prisoners to maintain strong relationships with their loved ones and family members on the outside. Through providing extremely low rates, averaging just $0.15 per minute, for inmates to make outgoing phone calls on it systems, Securus has been able to keep millions of inmates in close contact with their family members, leading to far better outcomes, including lower rates of recidivism once they’re released from prison.