America’s Prisons and Their Effects On Society

1532 Words7 Pages
Every civilization in history has had rules, and citizens who break them. To this day governments struggle to figure out the best way to deal with their criminals in ways that help both society and those that commit the crimes. Imprisonment has historically been the popular solution. However, there are many instances in which people are sent to prison that would be better served for community service, rehab, or some other form of punishment. Prison affects more than just the prisoner; the families, friends, employers, and communities of the incarcerated also pay a price. Prison as a punishment has its pros and cons; although it may be necessary for some, it can be harmful for those who would be better suited for alternative means of punishment.

What are prisons for? This is a question that must be asked in order to understand the problems facing prisons. Prisons serve two main functions; separation and rehabilitation. Criminals cannot be allowed to walk around with everyone else without being punished; they must be separated from society. The thought of going to prison helps deter most people from crime. Rehabilitation is the main goal of prison; making a bad person into a good person by the time they are released. These seem like cut and dry functions, but as of late some believe that prisons in the United States have failed in their attempts to separate and rehabilitate.

Not only do prisons separate the criminals from the innocent, to be effective, according to Lappin and Greene, they must also separate the criminals from the worse criminals. Convicts in prison for non-violent offenses are not supposed to be housed with violent offenders. “Unfortunately, our prisons are becoming more and more overcrowded maki...

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... abuse offender policy options.(The field works.). Policy & Practice, 33-34.

Lappin, H. G., & Greene, J. (2006). Are prisons just? In C. Hanrahan (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints: America’s prisons (pp. 51-98). Detroit: Bonnie Szumski.

Muhlhausen, D. B., Dyer, C. C., McDonough, J. R., Nadlemann, E., & Walters, R. (2006). Do prisons protect public safety? In C. Hanrahan (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints: America’s prisons (pp. 16-48). Detroit: Bonnie Szumski.

Shaw, V. N. (1998). Productive labor: A secondary goal but primary activity. Prison Journal, (78), 186.

Trachtenberg, B. (2009, February). Incarceration policy strikes out: Exploding prison population compromises the U.S. justice system. ABA Journal, 66.

Young, M. G. (1998, July). Rethinking community resistance to prison siting: Results from a community impact assesment. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 323-325.

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