Thursday, July 8, 2010
Does the U.S. Prison System Really Work?
Sure some hardened criminals deserve harsh punishment, but there are others who have committed crimes who are just not the same kind of people as those hardened criminals. It's like taking just average high school footballers and putting them on a pro football team. They're either going to get crushed or they're going to have to learn to play like the pros play. It comes down to survival.
Some of those tough career criminals aren't thinking about rehabilitation, but there are other inmates who have learned a lesson and just want to avoid getting in trouble again and coming back to prison. Sometimes they have families to support and kids they need to be examples for.
There might be gang leaders who are operating out of prison controlling things that are happening on the outside. Some of the inmates might be running scams and committing crimes within the prison population. Many of them just want to keep a low profile, stay out of trouble, and get back to life on the outside as quickly as they can.
The question is are they prepared to cope with life outside the prison walls? Have they been trained in some kind of skill or received an education that will help them find an honest job? Have they learned job hunting skills and mechanisms to cope in socially acceptable ways?
On the other side of the coin, is the prison staff adequately trained and supervised? Correctional officers unions are powerful. Are they being kept in check? Is the goal really correction or is it oppressive control? Some of the prisons are so crowded that adequate and appropriate supervision may be difficult. Are there many people in correctional facilities whose sentences could be handled differently than in the normal correctional institute?
There are so many questions to be asked and alternative solutions to be offered. Some reports claim that the United States has more people per capita in prisons and the parole system than any other country in the world. Federal and state governments spend billions on the correctional system. Are we getting good return for our tax dollars? How much has crime been reduced?
Is the correctional system in the United States effective? Does the prison system really work?