Home » Crime » Essay on Mass Incarceration Vs Rehabilitation

Essay on Mass Incarceration Vs Rehabilitation

At 2. 2 million inmates, the United States currently has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Approximately 1 per every 130 people are imprisoned and over 4 million people are on probation or parole. Despite the amount of people locked up, the U. S. has wildly fluctuating crime rates and the number of offenses per year has steadily been going up since the year 2000 (Henry). While the current prison system is highly debated amongst different groups, it is generally agreed that crime rates are still out of control.

The current U. S. riminal justice system need drastic change because they currently fail to control crime, ehabilitation efforts are not working, and they unrightfully target people of color. As of today the current prison system is failing to control the rapidly growing rate of crime. For as long as history dates back, punishment has been an accepted and common way to right someone who has done something wrong. From tapping a dog’s nose to sending a misbehaving child to their room, humans use punishment to hopefully bring out positive behavior. This brings in the question: how much punishment is too much?

Professor Stuart Henry informs readers that an excess amount of punishment can lead to avoidance, aggressiveness, and eproduction of the punishment behavior. In a powerful essay concerning prison’s deterrence of crime, Joel Waldfogel claims, “the likelihood being sentenced to prison jumps from 3 percent to 17 percent at exactly 18. ” Despite this large change, offenses from teens aging 17 to 19 remain mostly consistent, which is unusual compared to the assumption that a higher chance of incarceration equals more apprehension towards committing a crime.

Waldfogel goes on to state that a whopping one-fifth of people arrested in the weeks before their eighteenth birthday are later rearrested no more than a month later. Putting aside eenagers, looking at statistics from the 1980’s up until now gives some insight on the ineffectiveness of prison threats. There was a brief decrease in the number of crimes committed during the 1980’s when mass incarceration really began taking effect.

This is often used to prove that the threat of prison time does in fact lower crime rates; however, the correlation here is offset by the fact that economy was in a stable state during this time and there was a decrease in the amount of drug circulation (Henry). Stuart Henry claims that, if anything, unemployment rates seem most in tune with the amount of arrests. According to Elizabeth Marlow from the University of California, one-third of all prisoners were unemployed one month prior to their arrest.

When the economy is booming and jobs are abundant, crime rates tend to go down, and they follow the pattern when jobs become scarce and unemployment rises. From the 1990’s to present day the amount of crime continues to go up along with the number of people incarcerated, both from new inmates and returning parolees, serving as a stark reminder that the current system isn’t nearly enough to deter crime. According to an article written by doctors Elizabeth Marlow nd Catherine Chesla, 60 percent to 70 percent of parolees are reincarcerated within three years of being released.

The few rehabilitation efforts put in place for prisons to help inmates are clearly ineffective and instead of working on fixing them, the current systems are focusing more on punishment. In his essay “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” Daniel Moynihan explains that rehabilitation was largely abandoned in the 1970’s, fitting into the “idea that prison should not reform convicts but punish them. ” While this could make sense in a life- sentence setting, years of punishment before releasing a risoner could lead to them becoming aggressive and repeating the process, as stated as an effect of too much punishment (Henry).

Even with less technical punishment and more neglecting to rehabilitate, prisons are not helping with the influx of incarcerated individuals. In his article “The Prison Boom Bust,” Terry Gest concludes that unless prison systems are changed, the crime rate will continue to grow. His statistics say that at least % of current inmates enter prison with substance abuse issues, yet less than 10 percent get the needed treatment for it.

Marlow and Chesla, two doctors who wrote the article “Prison Experiences and the Reintegration of Male Parolees,” show that many inmates and parolees have very limited education, some not even having a high school diploma or GED. Only 35% of prisons in the U. S. offer educational release programs, which are meant to assist inmates in finding jobs and functioning properly in the outside world (Marlow and Chesla). Without the help necessary, individuals often cannot go back to normal life without succumbing back to their addictions and old habits.

Another issue discussed in their article is the fact that, upon release, many inmates are sent home with no money or ufficient identification and are dropped off at home in areas often with a high crime and substance abuse rate. Adding to their problems, after so long in the system men often become used to the organized, scheduled life that is incarceration. Suddenly having so much freedom is a difficult thing to deal with and adjust to so naturally parolees will do whatever they feel most comfortable and familiar with, generally leading to meeting up with old friends and slipping back into old habits (Marlow and Chesla).

According to an article by professor Bill Quigley, when it came to finding a job after incarceration, very ew places were willing to hire ex-convicts. Not to mention significantly more white males received call backs from employers than black males, which brings us to our next topic. Racism in the criminal justice system has been prevalent since America was founded and continues to raise suspicion even today, where people of color are often unrightfully targeted.

In his brilliant article “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan explains the effects of racial profiling in black and hispanic neighborhoods in the U. S. Current laws allow police officers to stop suspicious individuals ased on very vague and unclear premises such as “furtive movements. ” Once stopped, an officer can search them with little reasoning and more often than not become extremely aggressive, using unwarranted force and pat-downs in order to find guns, drugs, or other illegal items.

Moynihan’s research shows that blacks and hispanics were stopped extremely often on unclear terms. Some individuals might say that this is a good thing, that blacks and hispanics are constantly partaking in illegal activity and must be stopped to prevent them from “killing each other. ” However, Moynihan states that “between 004 and 2009, officers recovered weapons in less than 1 percent of all stops – and recovered them more frequently from whites than blacks.

Despite this fact, blacks and hispanics are still 14 percent more likely to be subject to force (Moynihan). In a shocking article written by professor Bill Quigley, he informs readers that criminal cases going on trial is extremely uncommon. This being the case, many cases are simply plea bargained, and he states that “people caught up in the system .. plead guilty even when innocent. ” Because sentences are often years shorter when one claims guilty instead of fighting for nnocence, people of color often never even try to put up a fight.

This brings in a whole new issue of how many innocent people are currently locked in prisons for crimes they didn’t commit. As a man interviewed by Quigley said, “Who wouldn’t rather do three years for a crime they didn’t commit than risk twenty-five years for a crime they didn’t do? ” In conclusion, the U. S. prison system needs to be changed in order to control crime, assist inmates in rehabilitation, and stop the targeting of people of color. The United States will only grow more crime-ridden and citizens will feel more and more unsafe the longer we go without change.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.