Nestled along the Missouri River, the Leavenworth U.S. Penitentiary (USP) is both a beautiful, historical artifact and a fully functioning correctional facility. USP Leavenworth came into existence through an act of Congress in 1895, and the facility was officially opened in 1906 after a decade of construction. The "New Penitentiary," as it was called, was seen as a marvel of custodial architecture. The facility was a bold attempt at a completely self-contained prison, putting all the necessary facilities within a 35-foot high wall, extending nearly as far below ground as above, encircling 16 acres. Included within the walls of the prison were a power plant, a hospital and, for the first time in history, a school. Today, "The Big Top" continues to house more than 1,800 inmates and serves as a key component of the federal prison system. Needless to say, the technology of prison construction as well as technology that aids in the management of information and offenders has advanced greatly since the "New Penitentiary" was built (with much of that technology being incorporated into the operations of the penitentiary).
Corrections officials around the country struggle to adapt structures that were build in different eras for use today. USP Leavenworth is certainly one of the most extreme examples, but there are numerous other prisons around the country that have successfully managed to adapt to today's technological environment. Further, there are buildings and facilities being used by community corrections programs that were not designed for correctional purposes. Those operating these facilities have used technologies to create safe, efficient environments for offenders.
Technology is defined as the technical means people use to improve their surroundings; a knowledge of using tools and machines to complete tasks efficiently. Society uses technology to control the world in which we live. Technology is people using knowledge, tools and systems to make their lives easier and better. Through technology, people communicate better and work more efficiently and effectively.