In September 1971, a major riot at New York's Attica prison focused national attention on corrections and the practice of imprisonment in the United States. In response to public concern and recognizing the problems in corrections facilities and programs at the State and local levels, Attorney General John N. Mitchell convened a National Conference on Corrections in Williamsburg, Virginia, in December 1971.
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, in his keynote address before the 450 conference participants, expressed support for the establishment of a national training academy for corrections. The training academy would:
- Encourage the development of a body of corrections knowledge, coordinate research, and formulate policy recommendations.
- Provide professional training of the highest quality for corrections employees and executives.
- Provide a forum for the exchange of advanced ideas in corrections.
- Bring about long-delayed improvements in the professionalism of the corrections field.
The National Institute of Corrections was created in 1974. It first received funding in 1977 as a line item in the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget.