In the early years of this country flogging, exile, branding, and the “stocks” were some of the ways used to punish a guilty offender. Today, though, these types of punishments would quickly be labeled as cruel and unusual forms of retribution. Since we can no longer utilize such forms of punishment, the criminal justice system has turned to; imprisonment, probation, fines, and even the death penalty to help and deter offenders from a life of crime. As the prison population continues to rise in this country health and safety questions rise as well. Not only for the prisoner but for also for the guards that are there to watch over and protect the inmates. It is time to ask some very important questions regarding sentencing alternatives including; “Do we rely too much on the prison system”, “Are there better ways to punish some crimes?” and probably most importantly, “Does prison truly act as a deterrent to crime?”
The Bureau of Justice’s statistics in the recent years have shown a dramatic increase in the prison population which has led to a large amount of United States prisons being overcrowded. State prisons, on the average, are 16 percent over their capacity with Federal prisons holding an average of 38 percent more inmates than their original construction capacity. (Bureau of Justice) Overcrowding, though, is just part of the problem. Many of the prisons in America today are rundown and substandard. Inadequate security is also an issue, often times lacking the personnel to keep the inmates safe from assaults and other violations.
For years, it has been the belief of the American public, politicians, and criminal justice authorities that crime rates in this country were just too large. It has also been the general consensus that in order to stop the rising crime rates, there had to be a great push in the severity of sentencing in the courtroom. Mostly this was done by way of utilizing the maximum...