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.
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,
The United States has a larger percent of its population incarcerated than any other country. America is responsible for a quarter of the world’s inmates, and its incarceration rate is growing exponentially. The expense generated by these overcrowded prisons cost the country a substantial amount of money every year. While people are incarcerated for several reasons, the country’s prisons are focused on punishment rather than reform, and the result is a misguided system that fails to rehabilitate criminals or discourage crime. This literature review will discuss the ineffectiveness of the United States’ criminal justice system and how mass incarceration of non-violent offenders, racial profiling, and a high rate of recidivism has become a problem.
With the failure of the rehabilitation programs, the United States had to turn to the retribution model of punishment. Also at the turn of the decade into the 80’s, The War on Drugs kick started the epidemic of prison overcrowding, and launched America into a downward plunge of economic and political turmoil. The mandatory minimum sentencing policy that was in place did not help the situation either, giving long incarceration sentences to prisoners who didn’t deserve it. Criminals were given the minimum sentences for crimes, and judges carried them out precisely. Race and poverty were also side contributors that contributed to the bigger picture of the issue.
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
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.
In the article “Even Prisoners Must Have Hope”, Richard Stratton (the author) talks about his thoughts on the federal prison system in America. Stratton himself had served 8 years in jail for smuggling marijuana. He strongly advises not to make the prisons even worse than they already are. The harsh conditions and other peoples’ vengeful attitudes toward criminals only make the violence and crime continue. According to Stratton, instead of improving the harsh conditions and trying to rehabilitate and help prisoners that could lead to peace, our society inflicts more pain and punishment, enforcing a violent cycle.
The retribution part is to punish the person for the crime that they permitted against society, and the incapacitation part is to remove that person out of society so they do no further harm. Deterrence means the prevention of future crime, and the rehabilitation teaches life skills and in the betterment. However, author Sandiford says that instead of solving crime, mass incarceration has infected our communities and striking them with devastating symptoms, and prison costs have skyrocketed, inmates ' families have been torn apart, and the system is overwhelmingly stratified by race and class (Sandiford,
Those who find themselves sentenced to time in a penitentiary, jail, or prison are at risk of either being broken or strengthened by the time they spend behind bars. There is a great debate of whether or not the prison system in the United States is positive or negative. The following will briefly highlight the positives, negatives, and possible alternatives for our nation's prison system. First, there is a long list of negatives that the prison system in America brings. The prison system is filled with crime, hate, and negativity almost as much as the free world is.
Thesis: It is very important for the sake of Americans tax dollars that we change the way that prisons are run and increase the productivity of inmates so when they are released from jail they are ready to be a productive member in society and have the confidence to achieve new goals. Introduction: Day after day, millions of inmates sit in jail doing nothing productive with their lives. We are paying to house inmates that may not even have a good reason to be there. For example, drug offenders are being kept with murderers and other violent offenders.
The high incarceration rate of Black Americans has pervasive and chronically negative stigmas regarding the social and economic vitality of the Black American community, such as a lack of democratic participation and violence within urban communities (Burris-Kitchen & Burris, 2011). According to Forman Jr. (2012), some of 5 the negative affects of systemic racism of Black Americans born into the hip-hop generation who have been convicted include the ineligibility of public assistance programs such as health care, food stamps, public housing, student loans, and some employment opportunities. Additionally, many of the individuals suffering from the stigma of incarceration come from backgrounds of disadvantage such as single parent homes, low
Worsening the problem, as the increase in the incarceration of individuals continues, the sense of rehabilitation for inmates has been heavily reduced. This is not just by chance, but rather because the capitalistic private prison industry does not view incarcerated individuals as
As I mentioned above, since the War on Drugs era, the prison population has increased at an alarming rate. Overcriminalization has most of the responsibility for this problem. Along with the overcrowding of prisons, the obstacle of overcriminalization also brings sentencing reform to the table. It puts citizens that had no criminal intent in their actions and non-violent offenders in prison for unjust lengths of time. Serving
School programs were without supplies, inmate classifications weren’t distinguishable, detailed treatment plans fell short, and harsh fines depleted the worth and value of paid labor. Due to the lack of guidelines for indeterminate sentencing the original promise and purpose was lost and abused by officials seeking to gain further control over insubordinate inmates. Parole board members were unqualified and failed at adequately reviewing offenders progress or failures. Overcrowding pushed for early release, rendering requirements lax and often overlooked. Once released, parole officers failed at physically supervising offenders, relying on paperwork and formalities to monitor their progress and reform (Blomberg & Lucken, 2010, pp.
There have been many advances in the methods of detailing and punishing those individuals throughout history who hand found themselves deviating from society norms. Criminals are punished for the acts that they carry out on citizens, property they damage, and many other deviate acts they engage in across America. Supervision of criminals, along with prolonged rehabilitation has always been the major stepping stone for integrating criminals back into society. Correctional supervision has allowed criminals with minor and some major crime convictions to forgo incarceration for a form of corrections that is less structured than that of a penal system or correctional facility. There are many different types of correctional supervision that a criminal can be ordered to participate in and complete before completing many rehabilitation programs.