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Corrections in the legal context refers to the retribution, rehabilitation, and supervision of criminal offenders through the system of incarceration, probation, and parole

Correctional institutions are the places where those who have been convicted of crimes serve out their sentences; including prisons, halfway houses, and supervised release programs.  They are generally of statutory creation and are governed by boards of non-profit organizations and corrections, or similar boards that are part of a branch of municipal or state government. State and local legislatures that control corrections law are limited only by the Constitution.

Federal penal and correctional institutions (except for naval and military institutions) are controlled by the Attorney General under the Bureau of Prisons.

Corrections also include training and education of offenders to help them overcome their mistakes and reintegrate into society, such as high school equivalency training, substance abuse education, and mental health treatment. Corrections are aimed at people who have been convicted or sentenced for a criminal offense. Corrections can be divided into two categories depending on the practitioner: institutional corrections and community corrections.

Additional Resources:

  • Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • United States Department of Justice
  • United States Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General
  • State Laws on Corrections

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]