Saundra M. Anderson
Introduction to Criminal Justice (BLL1217A)
Instructor David Caspi
May 28, 2012
When We Build It, Prisoners Will Come
Contrary to the popular quote, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” It is a known fact that prisons where built to house criminals who commit crimes, also known as prisoners. In prison you may not know what you are facing in reference to living arrangements or meals, however there is a guarantee that it will not be sweet. One may say that life before prison is not the same as after being incarcerated. Prisons are needed to house those persons who break the law. Rehabilitation programs inside and outside of a prison facility are designed to prevent recidivism. There would be no prisons without prisoners. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the purpose for prisons, the current condition of our prison system and current programs within and outside of the prison system designed to rehabilitate the offender upon release back into society. As early as the 1600s and 1700s, jails were created to house those that committed crimes (Seiter, R., 2011, pg. 19). Prisons were created to house criminals in a more humane manner based on information contained in the eighth amendment, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Many early prisoners were not housed in places with sanitary living conditions. A person who has been sent to prison, has been afforded the right to a speedy trial and all the due processes outlined in the fifth and fourteenth amendments. The prisoner, however does not make a decision in which prison facility he is sent to. Seiter, 2011, describes a prison as an institution designed to house convicted, adult felons, serving a sentence of one year or more (Seiter, R., 2011, pg. 562). Prisons were created as a form of punishment for a person that has been found guilty of committing a crime by a jury of their peers.
The ultimate goal of building prisons is to have enough space to house criminals during the punishment phase of their criminal sentence. The use of a prison is designed to keep the community safe from the criminal, separate from society and housed with persons who may have committed similar crimes. Prisons protect our society from people that have, will or have attempted to harm innocent people in our communities. It is my belief that the offender himself ultimately relegates himself to a stay in prison. Prison was designed to be uncomfortable for the offender thereby making him unwilling to return.
Prisons are built today with prisoners of different security levels in mind such as medium and maximum security. Prison conditions are normally the same in prisons based upon this security level. Prison camps have a very low level of security and allow more freedom to the prisoners such as being able to move around the prison ground without any or limited escort by correction officers. Correction officers are tasked with whether to house a violent offender with an offender who has committed a like crime. Prisons will commonly have a segregated housing unit within the prison system that houses those that are placed on death row. Prisons also have medical units for ill prisoners, to include the mentally ill. The overcrowded conditions of prisons have been an ongoing argument amongst legislators throughout the years. Prison officials have made the decision to house prisoners by gang association and race. The totality-of-conditions test, created in 1976 as a result of prison conditions in an Alabama prison (Seiter, R., 2011, pg. 463) did not allow prisoners to concentrate on rehabilitating themselves. Poor prison conditions, such as lack of medical care, unsanitary conditions as well as poor preparation can lead to prison riots and attacks on correction officials. In many instances there is not enough prison staff to...