Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Janice Santos
Last updated: October 2, 2019
How Do We Fix A Broken System?Throughout our country’s history into today, there have been many issues with our prison system.
There is overcrowding in our prisons, they are all underfunded, the rape rates are off the charts today more than ever, and as Americans we have no idea how to fix it. American prisons house around 2 million people, in a system originally designed to rehabilitate them in order to be able to rejoin society. Prisons at times take the nonviolent offender and turn his life into a life of violence.
They take nonviolent offenders and make them hardened killers. We need to wake up and realize the current structure of our current prison system is terribly failing and continues to do so. Our system needs to have shorter sentences and needs to ry to rehabilitate prisoners back to where they can function in society. Many of these prisoners barley have a high school education and do not receive further education in prisons/jails. Guards need to pay more attention to the wellbeing of the inmates and begin to notice signs of abuse in order to properly address them. These are a few of the many problems in our prison system that need to be fixed.One of the biggest issues in our state and federal jails today is overcrowding and how it only continues to grow.
Nationally, every 7 minutes, a person enters prison. And every 14 minutes, someone returns to the streets, beaten down and, more often having suffered a great amount of violence during their time spent in prison. Professionals will tell you that incarceration really does very little to stop crime, but we go on spending billions and billions of dollars in order to lock up more and more people. We have become the country with the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. (National Criminal Justice Commission) Back in the 20th century, prison rates in the U.
S were fairly on the low side until the economic and political factors caused the rate to rise. According the the Bureau of justice statistics, the amount of people in prison went from 139 per 100,000 inmates to 52 per 100,000 inmates from 1980 to 2009. That is nearly 261%. Over 2.1 million Americans are incarcerated and 7.2 million are either incarcerated or under parole. According to the statistics, the U.
S has 25% of the world’s prisoners. (Rick Wilson pg.1) Our prisons simply have too many people in them at the moment. In order to help fix this problem of overcrowding, there needs to be shorter sentences for smaller crimes. Funding has only continued to drop and with that how are we required to keep people from returning to society for smaller crimes instead of having real criminals serving out there full sentences. Since our incarceration rates are growing at the rate that they currently are, we need more funding for basic essentials like shampoo, towels, and food for the inmates. 1 out if every 131 U.S citizen is incarcerated and although it seems like such a broad number, there are over 3 million people in our country which only makes the number of incarcerated individuals unbelievable.
In order to keep prisons running citizens have to pay for each inmate to have a place to eat, sleep, and bathe which comes out of their taxes. Each prisoner is estimated to cost $22,650 per year just to be sitting in a cell not being a part of society. (Cunningham pg. 1 par.3) In today’s most talked about topics, people want more funding for prisons because they believe they are in “terrible conditions”.
As it turns out, each state is given a budget of approximately 128 million dollars each year to keep the prison system running. (Skelton pg.1) So the real question is where is all that money going? This is taking too much money out of taxpayers pockets to pay for inmates who should not be serving long term sentences for small crimes.The real problem with funding prisons with taxpayers money is not how the money is spent, but how much is being utilized towards the inmates and not towards the prison structures and the pay of the employees. Most U. S prisons were constructed in the 19980’s and were originally meant to hold around 80,000 people. Today, many prisons are outdated and hold over 170,000 inmates.
They have no room to exercise or go through rehab program. (Skelton pg.1) The increasing population of prisoners demands government to build more prison which is a really costly investment.
In order to correctly imprison criminals, the main structure of a prison needs to be secure. There needs to be closed doors, closed books, and punishment towards anyone who criticizes the administration. (Cunningham pg.
1) There needs to be strict rules in prison to assure everyone’s safety. One good example to use from the prison system is prison rape. Rape in the prison system has grown in the U.S over the years. Approximately 240,000 brutal rapes occur every year in prison each year. This is almost half of all rape cases in the U.S combined.
(Cunningham pg.1) par.3) Most victims of these cases are young nonviolent males that cannot defend themselves. Some are even forced to shave their body and are sold as slaves among the inmates for things like cigarette packets, food items, etc. These individuals will continue as slaves throughout their entire sentence as they complain to the guards, but with no avail.
They are treated differently than other inmates and at times, their “owners” will bribe guards to get away with rape wherever they are. The police in return say they permit this appalling behavior in order to “control the population”. (Harris pg.1) This issue is a result of prisons mixing different groups and expecting inmates not to fight each other. These crimes and violent acts in prisons may be committed by the prisoners themselves, but as previously mentioned, they are aided and even encouraged by the inequalities, ignorance, and social injustices that can all be sourced back to the people running the prison systems and making their laws.In prison there are many different types of people including race, religion, age, violent and nonviolent.
Black individuals are imprisoned nearly six times the amount of white individuals. Latinos are two times the white rate. 13% of the U.S. population is black, 14% of the black populations are drug users, and 37% of the black prison population are in for drug use. (Wilson pg.1 par. 9) This puts the nonviolent inmate in danger.
Age differences have become an issue. When inmates of different ages, six years or more, are placed in the same cell, a fight is ten times more likely to happen. (Harris pg. 2) Inmates need to be educated and rehabilitated in order to be released back into society. If prisoners receive a good education, they are less likely to commit misconduct in the future. The Three State Recidivism Study gave prisoners an education and lowered recidivism by 29%. A study in 2009 concluded that college education has become a very important asset in the U.S.
A bachelor degree is worth more than one million dollars in a lifetime and prisoners without one have a hard time reintegrating into society. “College education helps one to get a job and therefore transition more easily to the outside” says a Marymount Bedford Hills Program Student (Dodd pg.1 par. 1-5) We need to try to rehabilitate prisoners and teach children to not do these crimes. The peak for violence is 18 years old. When young people enter jail, the effects can last their whole lives. It impacts job quality, home ownership, family life, assets, public benefits, and sometimes voting rights.
Younger people are twice as likely to be successfully rehabilitated. Ideas of rehabilitation mostly revolve around education, counseling, and job skills. But until the prisoners decide for themselves to change all there is better skilled and better educated criminals. (Lozoff pg. 1)In the past 20 years the justice system has allowed cruel prion employees to punish disobeying inmates.
They have even gone as far as eliminating the ability for prisoners to gain a college degree. The media has always said in order to solve the crime rate, we as a nation should be tougher on prisoners in prison. This always has the opposite effect, raising crime rates. Convicts are constantly trying to prove who is the toughest to their fellow inmates. Peer pressure is a very real thing and should not be taken lightly. We as Americans need to understand the importance of rehabilitation.
A good rehabilitation system can solve the problems of overcrowding and underfunding by there being less convicts. Americans need to support inmates to make them feel more secure and help them transform their behaviors. Their morals need to be regained rather than being put down.Education is not a fix all by any means, but it is the best start to solving the large literacy rates of US prisons.
Of course, it will require much hard work on the part of the prisoner getting out, and there may be a large percentage who do not desire to take advantage of such programs, but Americans should encourage and give these individuals tools to help them back into society. Convicting, sentencing, and imprisoning are just the first few steps of reducing crime. All the effort, time, and money that go into keeping criminals locked up and off the streets are really for nothing in the end if they commit the same crime again after release. Are US prisons truly effective when so many prisoners are committing new crimes upon release? It is for the better interests of American safety that some prisoners are locked up for life, but this should not include the constant return of re-offenders. The life of most convicts involves committing a crime and being sentenced to jail only to repeat the same process again.
Many re-offenders see incarceration as a ticket to a place to sleep and food to eat. Release from prison should be treated as a stepping stone back into society.Education is an effective way to reduce the re-incarceration of inmates as they are released.
By providing the necessary correctional education programs you increase the chance of former inmates finding employment in society upon release from prison. While the findings did not show that there was a significant difference between the various types of educational programming they did show to all improve employment opportunities. Further study of the correctional education programs would be advised to determine what features are most influential to the reduction of recidivism (Davis, Bozick, Steele, Saunders & Miles, 2013 ). Recidivism rates are a good indication of how effective prison treatment and rehabilitation programs are by giving accurate data as to whether or not an ex-con has returned to prison. When young people enter jail, the effects can last their whole lives.
It impacts job quality, home ownership, family life, assets, public benefits, and sometimes voting rights. Younger people are twice as likely to be successfully rehabilitated. Ideas of rehabilitation mostly revolve around education, counseling, and job skills. But until the prisoners decide for themselves to change all there is better skilled and better educated criminals. (Lozoff pg.
1)The treatment that offenders receive in prison must match the personality and needs of the inmates. As we have learned in school systems, not every person learns in the same manner. This is the same to the treatment of the criminal behavior of inmates . As the prison system is not just teaching them coping skills but rewiring the way they thinks and receive gratitude from others.
These issues can most commonly lead inmates to begin to have problems. The overcrowding and treatment in prisons leads individuals to experience a sort of comfort and especially in overcrowded prisons. “The impact of prison overcrowding on social relations and interaction is considered one of the most important and drastic events” (Howard). Many inmates, who are released, often get arrested again and return to the corrections system. In general, overcrowded prisons are unable to provide inmates with skills that they would need to go out into society to find a good stable jobs and create relationships with other individuals. Unfortunately, “few prisons are able to provide a majority of their prisoners with educational programs, vocational training, or meaningful jobs that provide them with transferable skills that can be used in the workplace” (Haney).
Studies have shown about 7 out of 10 inmates are illiterate (Haney) and do not even have a high school education.The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported “nearly 40 percent of the nation’s inmates had no prison work assignments” (Haney). Inmates are not given opportunities to work and practice on becoming productive citizens in society.Therefore, certain opportunities are taken away and there is less focus on actually rehabbing inmates. “Inmates in jam-packed prisons have less opportunity to improve themselves, and are most likely to come out unrehabilitated and hardened” (Cohen).
A poorly planned criminal justice system and programs can incapacitate the goals of reintegration of ex-criminal into society. With the way things are in prison, prisoners are coming out of prison worse off than when they went into prisons because of current prison experiences. Prison life can be harsh, and time spent in a isolation is even worse. A majority of those in prison spend countless hours in idleness. It would be much better if they used that time to educate themselves for a productive life on the outside. Some of the prisoners have serious emotional and mental problems that are never addressed and it is illogical to not attempt to correct these problems before they are released.
While the inmates have to suffer the effects of overcrowding, so do the people who actually run the prisons. Prison officials and staff face many challenges trying to control the inmates and their behavior. Crimes in prisons escalate and it becomes more dangerous to not only the prison staff, but the inmates as well. Officials have a difficult time trying to break up arguments and fights between inmates due to the shortage of extra facilities to send them to (Haney).
Guards also have fewer options to solve prisoner problems. A prison researcher stated, “In less well-regulated institutions in which prisoners have little recourse to protection or in which there may be collusion between dominant prisoners and staff to maintain the peace, sexual violence tends to be greater” (Haney). As the inmate violence increases, so does the punishment enacted by the prison guards. “Staff have been forced to expect violent situations and dangerous acts to occur” (Haney). This has resulted in harsher policies and procedures in order to maintain control. Prison systems now use a series of expensive security equipment and technology like leg irons, gas grenades, and so forth. Prison officials resort to harsher punishment in order to prevent uprisings and even minor infractions amongst inmates (Haney). All of these new policies are simply an attempt to maintain control over the massive population of inmates.
Another huge issue that needs to be addressed in our prison system is, racial discrimination and how the law enforcement targets minorities. Within the past 15 years there have been several cases in our country that undisputedly point to law enforcement making decisions based solely on race. It is difficult to determine if these isolated incidents are a mirror of the system as a whole or products of individual free will. The fact that there are many different