Our Criminal Justice System is falling apart. Our prisons are overcrowded and filled with the wrong people, and our incarceration rate is twice as high as any other country and is growing at an unheard of rate. We have a very high recidivism rate. Why is this happening? How can we fix it? Or can we even fix it?
First, we need to define what the Criminal Justice System is and what it’s purpose is. Is its purpose rehabilitation and correction or justice and deterrence? The official Criminal Justice defines its purpose as “to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent.” Or another definition; “The central purpose of the Criminal Justice System is to deliver an efficient, effective, accountable and fair justice process for the public.”
A paper entitled ‘Prisons with a purpose’ gave this reason for prisons. “Prisons should reduce crime in three principal ways: by incapacitating offenders, by punishing and thereby deterring others who would commit crimes, and by rehabilitating offenders.” It is my belief it that is how the Criminal Justice System should be; that they should have a twofold requirement. One to capture and punish criminals but also to rehabilitate and prepare the inmates for life outside the jail.
Let’s now start with the high incarceration rates. It would make sense that Crime Rates and incarceration rates would go hand in hand. If more people are committing crimes, then more people are being put in jail and vice versa. However, that has not been the case. In the last thirty years the incarceration rate has increased by over Two Hundred Percent, and the crime rate has stayed roughly the same....
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...e other solution besides going to jail. We have come to a crazy place when people want to go to jail or even worse need to go to jail to survive. The other option is that jail and prison are not preparing former inmates for the world. For some long term inmates, when they get out they don’t understand the world. Nothing makes sense. They want and need to go back to have any form of sanity. They need to go back to what they know and what they understand. I had a Criminal Justice professor whose first arrest was a guy who threw a rock into a McDonald’s window. He had been out of prison for a week and was going crazy back in the real world. Well for him it was back in the fake world. This is a problem and something needs to change.
We have high incarceration rates that keep growing higher and a recidivism rate that rivals no nation. Something needs to change and fast.
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