Social Problems, Prison Reform

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Social Problems - Prison Reform

Is it time to give up on rehabilitating criminals? Nearly one in every one hundred adults in the United States is in jail or prison today. With such a high number of Americans going to prison and eventually trying to re-enter society with a chance of becoming law abiding citizens they must be prepared for life on the outside. Survival is one of the key elements of human nature. People will do whatever they feel necessary to survive; due to the lack of programs to help prisoners make the transition from incarceration to society living most “free” prisoners are not really free. They are faced with extremely difficult obstacles with little resources to assist them. The lack of jobs for ex-offenders and prisoners being discharged with no place to go, no money and no job, the chances of them becoming repeat offenders are high. This begs the question “Are correction facilities really correcting the problem or creating a new issue?” Essentially they are being set up to fail and it’s time for the Federal Government to take a hard look at prison reform to truly rehabilitate those who have been lost in the system. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total documented prison population in the world. 1 in 100 Americans were incarcerated at the beginning of the 2008 year which means that 737 people are imprisoned per 100,000 persons (Hartney, 2006).The United States has come to rely on imprisonment as it’s response to all types of crime and some feel that the high levels of incarcerated people is due to the long sentencing which is mandated under America’s laws (Hatrney, 2006). Prison spending is now the fastest growing item on most state budgets and given that prisons themselves can serve as a breeding ground for criminals. Families are suffering, being ripped apart, perpetuating racial and income inequality, and as studies show that excessive incarceration can actually increase crime in some cases. Congress is close to passing a Second Chance Act, a bill sponsored by politicians that would provide $100 million to fund training support programs for ex-offenders (Webb, 2008). The illustration below is the U.S. Correctional Population timeline of adults under correctional supervision. There were over 7.2 million people on probation, parole, incarcerated in jail, or prison at the end of 2006. About 3.2% of the U.S. adult population, and1 in every 31 adults, was incarcerated, on probation or parole at the end 2006. [pic]

The assumption of rehabilitation is that people are not natively criminal and there is a strong possibility to rehabilitate a convicted criminal into a useful life in which they can again become a part of society. Rehabilitation can be education or therapy, bringing a person to a normal state of mind, or into an attitude that would be helpful to society rather than harmful. We cannot inflict a severe punishment upon a person as a form of reform and expect them to re-integrate back into society and become law abiding citizens. While protecting society from the criminal elements the same society must be prepared to make every effort to rehabilitate the ex-offender. Many ex-offenders that will have a chance to re-enter into society will need counseling, family support and assistance with getting housing and employment. Without the proper assistance there is a good chance that many will re-enter prison and never be able to adjust to life on the outside. According to Wiley, 2008 rehabilitation programs have aroused even more criticism than recreation programs and the results of evaluations of rehabilitation programs are mixed; some programs work for individual offenders. What can be changed? One of the most compelling witnesses is Pat Nolan, a former Republican lawmaker from California who served 29 months in federal custody for accepting bribes in an FBI sting. While Nolan was incarcerated he made his...
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