Prison Reform In America

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Prison "Reform" in America In the essay "Prison "Reform" in America," Roger T. Pray points out the much attention that has been devoted to research to help prevent crimes. Showing criminals the errors of their ways not by brutal punishment, but by locking them up in the attempt to reform them. Robert Pray, who is a prison psychologist, is currently a researcher with the Utah Dept. of Corrections. He has seen what has become of our prison system and easily shows us that there is really no such thing as "Prison Reform" In Roger Prays essay we see how our prison system has come to where we are at now. He shows how history of prisons worked and how our basis of the prison system came about over the last 200 years. Robert states that it was the Americans that invented the prison. "The history of prison in America is the history of a troubled search for solutions." Before we had prisons in America, criminals where dealt with in a swift and brutal manner. Many prisoner where dealt with by corporal or capital punishment. Jails did exist in this time but they were "primarily for pretrail detention" stated Pray. "Today's system, where imprisonment is a common penalty for most crimes, is a historical newcomer." Many crimes during 1718 and 1776 were punishable by death. This was usually done by hanging, sometimes by stoning, breaking on the rack and burning at the stake. Towards the end of the 1700's people realized that cruel punishment did little to reduce crime and their society was changing the population grew and people started to move around more frequently. There had to be a search for new punishments. "New punishments were to rely heavily on new ideas imported from Europe in the writing of such social thinkers of the Enlightenment as the baron de Montesquieu, Voltaire, Thomas Pain and Cesare Beccaria". These thinkers came to believe that criminals could be rehabilitated." Beccaria, a European theorizer, had the most influence on penology. "His work had a profound effect on criminal punishment the world over." Beccaria wrote "the purpose of punishment is not to torment a sensible being, or to undo a crime [but] is none other than to prevent the criminal from doing further injury to society and to prevent others from committing the like offense." This is how... ... middle of paper ... ...m committing the like offense." How many times has this worked. It is known that many murders get paroled and 1/3 of these commits another murder. Do we really want to try to make prisoners better people? They committed crime once who is to say they won't again. Maybe if I saw more reports on how prison has improved our society and the criminals who live among us, I would see why we should work on reforming our prisons. Until then, it does not seem to be working. We trust in the government to provide for our safety, but we must take responsibility among ourselves. To understand that the current system does work and that its intent is not to provide a safe society. History has shown us that. What we have done or continue to do will not make this a safer place to live. The problem is not to reform our prison system, for this won't stop criminals to commit crimes, but to find ways and means to deteriorate them from doing the crime. Work Cited Prison "Reform" in America by Robert T. Pray Historical Viewpoints Volume 1 An American resolution: The history of prisons in the United States from 1777 to 1877 by Matthew Meskell. Stanford Law Review.

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