Rehabilitation vs. Incarceration

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The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population and over a quarter of the world’s prisoners (A. Liptak, 2008). Something about this doesn’t sit well with me and it never has. With 309,090,740 people in the United States it is hard to believe that 1 in every 100 American adults are currently behind bars and from 2006 to 2007, the prison population alone grew by 25,000 (A. Liptak, 2008). This does not include county jails. It costs the federal and state governments approximately $20,000 to $30,000 a year to incarcerate one offender. That means that if a convicted felon’s sentence is 10 years, it will cost the government at least $220,000. The estimated total annual cost of housing, feeding and providing services to all prisoners is $40 billion. The U.S. correction system has three main goals: punish, protect the population and rehabilitate the offenders. However, I feel that based on the statistics, the system has sacrificed funds meant for rehabilitation for more prisons in order to accommodate the ever growing number of prisoners. The most obvious goal of the correctional system is to punish offenders of the law and in theory is supposed to serve as a deterrent against the repeat of criminal activity. The growing number of prisoners in the United States correctional system proves that this theory is mostly unsupported. Punishment within the corrections system comes in many forms. The first form of punishment is incarceration itself. Once an offender has been convicted of a crime and is sentenced to serve time in a correctional facility, he or she will be transported to either a county jail or state prison depending on the length of their sentence and the severity of their offense. Criminals who have committed offenses that require substantial supervision will be shipped to a higher security facility, while offenders who have committed less severe crimes will likely spend time in county jail or minimum security prison. Another way the...