Sample donated: Estelle Martinez
Last updated: June 20, 2019
According to the UK Government, the four main objectives of a prison is the punishment, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation of prisoners.
However, is the modern day prison system even close to complying with these objectives? In fact it does the complete opposite. Prison is not anywhere near as much of a punishment as it should be, although prisoners are not harming anyone in society they are still a danger to each other, prisoners are still committing crime after they are released and they have no better chances in the future than from when they entered the jail. The prison system simply needs to change. The incapacitation of prisoners is clearly failing as vulnerable captives are being put under dangerous conditions as they are packed into depressing prison cells. This therefore leads to several prisoners being crammed into inadequate rooms to live in which could also lead to serious health problems. Although prisoners have broken the law, does this really give the government the right to treat them as though they are animals being stuffed into a cage? Leeds prison has over 70% more inmates than it was originally meant to hold.
This clearly indicates that the government is not putting enough funding into prisons and putting human lives in serious danger – all whilst filling there pockets with ever increasing pay checks. Also the cost of building a new prison for inmates to live in would be covered as their would be a dramatic decrease in healthcare costs as prisoners would have more movement around the prison and be more active. As you can see the government are disregarding the prisoners vital human rights and as a result putting others lives in danger. On the other hand, some people may struggle to see as to why the public’s taxes should be spent on those who have broken the law.
However, I believe that this is completely wrong. Funding in prisons is crucial as a lack of it would lead to necessities such as the education program to no longer be able to carry on. This means that prisoners are not being given the correct help that they need in order to stop reoffending, which leaves the public feeling less safe in their community. The lack in funding is also causing the quality of healthcare given to be decreased which could put inmates lives in danger. In a way this is like sentencing powerless inmates to death which makes us just as barbaric as them – if not worse. The funding given to prisons is clearly shown to be lacking when we take a closer look at the education program in prisons. Although there is already an education programme in place, it is not effective in rehabilitating prisoners back into society and giving them an opportunity to get jobs and make a living.
Over the course of a year, more than 50% of all prisons inspected by ofsted (the program for ensuring quality in education) were deemed as needing improvement and not having an effective enough education program. This casts a shadow over whether inmates are being taught the things that they will need for their future outside of the prison, and proves that the education that they are being taught is of a poor standard. Prisoners are expected to never commit another crime once they are released but this is almost impossible if they are not given any opportunities to make a change in their life.
This clearly exemplifies that there needs to be a dramatic change to the education that is thoughtlessly given to prisoners desperately in need. The education in prisons is vital yet at a substandard quality even though unnecessary luxuries are given in mass to prisoners. The modern-day prison system gives inmates so much luxuries that it is no longer considered a punishment and prisoners are not facing the retribution that they deserve. one man stated that he was “better off inside” than he was in his everyday life before prison. Some things that prisoners are allowed to bring into prison would be considered as luxuries even out with the prison, for example, prisoners can bring in; old game consoles, flat screen televisions and until recently even birds as pets. This is ridiculous especially considering that there is a maximum limit of 12 books per prison cell. How can we except prisoners to learn and gain an education if we limit the number of books we give them and instead give them violent video games which has been linked to causing people to be more violent themselves? This clearly reveals that there is a huge fault in the prison system as instead of punishing the prisoners in order to better their lives we are actually encouraging them to make bad decisions when they are released. In spite of this, opponents such as Sue Hall chair of the probation chief association argue that punishing prisoners has no effect on re-offending rates.
I believe that if we continue to give prisoners “privileges” then they will have no reason to stop committing crimes as they will not fear going back to prison. Also, some people (in which we cannot judge) may deliberately commit crime as they can not afford to buy food or shelter, so therefore commit crimes in order to receive these luxuries in prison. Would it not save money, time and lives if we offered more to those who are desperately in need of food and shelter rather than them committing crime and receiving them in prison anyway? Possibly one of the biggest issues with the prison system has to be that re-offending rates are so high that the point of prisons being to deter criminals from committing more crimes is clearly not working. This is demonstrated as almost 50% of all adults released from prison re-offend within one year of release. This then means that prisoners are the exact same when they leave the prison from when they were first brought into the prison: with the same people, the same life and committing the same crimes. Some people may say that people don’t change but isn’t that inevitable considering that they are not being given the help that they will need in order to change? We can also see that prisoners may struggle to get out of the “criminal mindset” considering that they are surrounded by other criminals and forced to fit in or they may be in danger. This confirms that the prison system is totally ineffective and that there needs to be a dramatic change.
In conclusion, the prison system is clearly not working as the four main objectives of punishment, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation of prisoners is not even almost being met. Through the lack of education, the amount of luxuries given to prisoners and the dangerous levels of overcrowding it is no shock that re-offending rates are worryingly high and that the public can not feel safe in their own community. However, if we as the public want to feel safer and improve vulnerable lives, we have no option but to demand a change in the prison system today, because in the end, we are all a prisoner to the system.