When the American prison system began, it was believed that rehabilitation, the act of restoring one’s character, could be beneficial for criminals to start over. According to Tom Wicker, “The system…began as a reform impulse, the idea that if offenders were isolated, shielded from the public mockery that had accompanied hangings and the stocks, given time to repent, and worked hard, they could be turned away from crime and transformed into useful citizens” (xii). Criminals could become better citizens and have a positive outlook for a future if they worked hard and were secluded from the outside world. Although this idea seems more humane, it did not last long in the prison system because many people believed that any crime committed deserved
Over the past 40 years U.S. incarceration has grown at an extraordinary rate, with the United States’ prison population increasing from 320,000 inmates in 1980 to nearly 2.3 million inmates in 2013. The growth in prison population is in part due to society’s shift toward tough on crime policies including determinate sentencing, truth-in-sentencing laws, and mandatory minimums. These tough on crime policies resulted in more individuals committing less serious crimes being sentenced to serve time and longer prison sentences. The 1970s-1980s: The War on Drugs and Changes in Sentencing Policy Incarceration rates did rise above 140 persons imprisoned per 100,000 of the population until the mid 1970s.
Prison reform has been an ongoing topic in the history of America, and has gone through many changes in America's past. Mixed feelings have been persevered on the status of implementing these prison reform programs, with little getting done, and whether it is the right thing to do to help those who have committed a crime. Many criminal justice experts have viewed imprisonment as a way to improve oneself and maintain that people in prison come out changed for the better (encyclopedia.com, 2007). In the colonial days, American prisons were utilized to brutally punish individuals, creating a gruesome experience for the prisoners in an attempt to make them rectify their behavior and fear a return to prison (encyclopedia.com, 2007). This practice may have worked 200 years ago, but as the world has grown more complex, time has proven that fear alone does not prevent recidivism.
To much of the common citizen’s disbelief, the spike in the mass incarceration of citizens in America is not necessarily a result of the national increase in violence, but rather an operation fueled by the corruption within our own legal system. Although many individuals in the United States would stand to believe that there is no particular way that anyone could stand to profit from the mass incarceration of Americans–they are wrong. The standing profiteers for mass incarceration is the private prison industry. The name to their game is simple, the more that the public good suffers from mass incarceration, the more government money the companies can obtain. As a result of these efforts, the private prison industry cuts corners at the expense of public safety and prison security in order to maximize profits by obtaining government money, resulting in the mass denial of American citizen’s liberty.
51% of all prisoners released are returned to the prison system and nearly 30% are returned within the first six months of their release (Pinard, 2006). Roughly two-thirds of all prisoners are rearrested within three years (Pinard, 2006). The high rates of incarceration and recidivism have reinvigorated debate about the purpose of the prison. The time is ripe to debate prison reform. "America 's penal system needs a top-to-bottom overhaul - and a movement of people ready to do something about it is taking shape nicely" (McCarthy,
Chapter four, The Cruel Hand, explains once how a criminal is treated as a second class citizen once they receive the label felon. This paper will take a critical look at these two chapters and discuss key points in Alexander's argument. I will explain how these two chapters have affected my opinion. Finally, I will explain how chapter three and four relates to the theme of our class. Chapter three, The Color of Justice, starts off by explaining how the War on Drugs is the leading cause of mass incarceration in America.
In this day and age, There are five times as many people in jail as there were in the 1970s. Almost 5 percent of the population of the United States will go to prison at in point of their life. Conservatives believe that imprisonment reduces crime in two ways: it removes criminals from the public so they can not commit more crimes, and it also discourages people who would commit a crime as they consider the consequences. Unfortunately, neither of these outcomes have come to be true. In fact, mass incarceration and “tough on crime” laws have been extremely ineffective that instead of reducing crime, it increases it.
According to Phelps (2013), as from 1998 to 2007 states that had the greatest increases in incarceration rates failed to observe a corresponding drop in crime rates. On the other hands, states such as New York, Texas, New Jersey and North and South Carolina that lowered their incarceration rates in favor of community corrections programs experienced a drop in crime rates (p.53). Incarceration has also failed in correcting prisoners. Most of the prisoners always go back to committing crimes once released from prison. It has led to a rise in the recidivism rates of prisoners.
Levitt and Dubner used the study “On Behalf of a Moratorium on Prison Construction” (123) to counter and, in the end, strengthen their theory of incarceration rates. This literature review will answer the following question: Do high incarceration rates in fact deter criminals from commiting crimes and, if there is a link, how big of an impact do they
“ Judge Briskey leaves the room.” Mr. Montresor would go to live the next ten years in Verona Maximum Security Prison before dying of aids he got from a blood transfusion after an inmate cut his arm with a shank. Mr. Montresor has been asked multiple times afterwards if he regrets killing his friend and every time he responds with the same answer.
The overcrowding of prisons in California and the rest of America is the result of “manufactured crime”. These are crimes which have no victim yet are considered felonies and follow the three strike law. Many people do not know that there are more incarcerated people in America than any other country on earth. According to the American Civil Liberties Union “America contains 5% of the world 's human population while also containing 25% of the world’s prison population.
The 19th century brought a change in the dynamic of the prison system. Public offense and shaming gave way to penitentiary to “prepare for life as law-abiding citizens.” This change is now clearly seen as the just move, extending dignity and a second chance to most inmates. However, there would be certain drawbacks, as were witnessed in later years. As John Esperian writes, correctional thinking always “reflects the ideas and values of the societies and governments which mandated it.”
Few remember that not just the indicted are changed in the prison system-the authority figures become different, too. Thousands of people go to detention facilities and stay there from minutes to decades, but the authority figures stay there with every influx of new prisoners. The wardens, in particular, are a monumental part of the system. They regulate the prisoners causing them to adapt to situations, whether positive or negative. Samuel Norton, the warden in the adaptation of Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption, is embodied by the atmosphere of the prison.
I have never before visited a prison nor have I met a prisoner in my entire life. Why should I care about someone whom I would rarely see? But these inmates are our brothers and sisters who may have made bad choices, but don’t want their mistakes to hold them back. Throughout my life, my once miserable and hopeless circumstances were transformed by education, and I am certain that the same principle can be applied to anyone, including inmates, despite our differences in how we responded to circumstances. It is true that prison takes nearly everything away from them – even their hopes and dreams.
Paul Edgecombe is a Death Row guard in Cold Mountain Penitentiary. One day when Paul is on duty, a black convict named John Coffey arrives on a death row. Accused of raping and killing two 9 year old girls and sentenced to death, shy and reticent black man sits quietly in the cell. By resurrecting a mouse and revealing guard’s urinary tract infection, Paul is not so sure about the sentence of a black prisoner. Even though the guard was trying to prevent from execution, the evidence was not convincing enough to find him innocent.