Purpose of Incarceration
The purpose of incarceration is not a simple question to answer. A prison is designed to keep a segment of the population segregated from another segment of the population. Having a understanding of why the segregation s necessary helps the manager or administrator apply or request for funding. During budget crisis or a recession, the manager has to be able to identify and explain the purpose of incarceration so that government monies will be allocated to the correct areas of corrections (Guillory, 2010). In the United States, over the last three decades, there has been an increase in the incarceration rates (Lynch, 1999). There are more than two million adults incarcerated. The US prison population, in the early 1920’s was documented at 110 inmates per 100,000 and in1973, this number had grown to 700 inmates per 100,000. This growth has placed a significant strain on the government’s budget and in 2005 the cost for criminal justice expenditures totaled $204.1 billion (DeMichele, Payne, 2010). In one way, the government has we done a great job making the civilians in this country, feel that the most dangerous people are being sanctioned for crimes against the communities. However, the government does not address the best plan for the majority of the inmates who will be released back to the community (Pinard, 2010). The cost of incarceration is about $76.59 per day (Fry, 2010). For those who manage prisons, a review of the real purpose of incarceration must be constantly reviewed. While incarceration results in some level of protection, we have to review the long-term benefits and compare the benefits to the cost of incarceration (Guillory, 2010). Most people will identify either rehabilitation, retribution or punishment is the purpose of incarceration. In the past and during the war on drugs, politicians were afraid to be thought of as soft on crime. This caused the politicians, who wanted to be re-elected, to respond to the emotional response of the citizens. The results were, more prisons being built, lengthening prison sentences, and reducing treatment options. The public does not consider that incarceration rates have little to do with crime, but instead are the result of political and bureaucratic decisions. The politicians are extremely hesitant to using evidenced based practices, applied scientific approach, to determine which interventions reduce recidivism. Most politicians, policy makers, practitioners and the public are hesitant to change, mostly due to fear of the unknown (DeMichele, Payne, 2010). As a policy maker and/or administrator in corrections, the history of incarceration and corrections must be reviewed. In the 1970’s it was widely accepted that getting tough on crime was best and the warehousing of criminals was the best way to punish offenders and deter crime. Over time, the criminal justice system shifted to rehabilitation and then back to tough on crime (Lynch, 1999). As a consequence, the United States is now the world’s leader in incarceration. One in 100 adults are in jail or prison and if the current pattern continues 11 percent of males and 2 percent of females born in 2006 will go to prison (Fry, 2010). In reviewing the history, there has been a constant pendulum shift surrounding five goals of incarceration to include punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution (Seiter, 2012). According to Getz et al (2010), punishment is justified solely on the moral grounds of retribution. The criminal justice field, especially corrections, must satisfy the public’s emotional desire to see punishment delivered to those how break the law. When the news is released of a crime, many individuals will become outraged and demand that something be done. Most will contact their politicians and demand a change in the law. The public will demand the individual be held responsible and punished. This response is not new but is the foundation...
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