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Jails and Prisons: Should They Be Privatized?

By hctrm0120 Aug 20, 2013 1551 Words
Jails and Prisons
Grace Melendez
CJA 490
December 24, 2012
Kevin Perry

Jails and Prisons
In the world of Criminal Justice, jails as well as prisons play an extremely important role in society. These facilities serve the purpose of housing individuals who have committed a crime. This paper will focus on the various types of prisons, the comparison of jails and prisons in the United States correctional system, the advantages and disadvantages of probation and parole, the role of community-based corrections programs and last arguments for and against privatizations of prisons. Types of Prisons

In the United States there are federal and state prisons. Within the federal and state prisons there are different types such as women facilities, juvenile prisons, maximum security, medium security, low security, and facilities for the mentally ill, which serve for a different purpose and house criminals based on their threat to themselves and others around them. Depending on the crime committed the offender may do their time in a jail, a state or federal prison, a private prison, or mental facility. According to Schmalleger (2009) a typical prison consists of (1) a maximum-security, (2) a medium-security, (3) a minimum-security, (4) institutions for young adults (under 25 years), (5) an institution for women, (6) and institutions for the mentally ill. When an inmate is sentenced to prison, they may be assigned to a minimum, medium or maximum security institution depending on their perceived dangerousness, escape risk, and the type of offense (Schmalleger, 2009). Schmalleger (2009) also states that the high-security prisons are for offenders who are long-term and high-risk. These maximum security prisons are usually massive old buildings, which have a large inmate population. These prisons provide a high level of security with high fences, thick walls, secure cells, gun towers, and armed prison guards. In the maximum security level inmates are normally in lockdown the majority of the time with an hour daily of freedom and are usually the most feared and violent. The medium-security prisons usually have perimeters with barbed-wired-topped chain-link fences and cell and living quarters have more windows than maximum-security prisons. Head counts are taken on regular intervals, which require inmates to report to designated areas to be counted. This type of prison provides inmates with some but not many rights, freedoms, and amenities such as usage of library, prison yard, and gym (Schmalleger, 2009). The minimum-security prisons are meant for inmates getting closer to his or her release date or for inmates that have not committed a severe crime. Inmates are housed in dormitory-like settings with freedom to walk the prison yard and to visit most of the prison facilities. Inmates may also have free access to canteens, which sells cigarettes, candy, and toothpaste. They wear different color uniform then other inmates in a higher-security level. In this type of facility the guards are unarmed, there are no gun-towers, and if there are fences they are usually low (Schmalleger, 2009). The facilities that house inmates with psychological troubles are referred to as medical institutions and the women prisons are separate maximum, medium, and minimum facilities that house female inmates only. The Federal Prisons house only persons convicted of violating Federal laws (that is, laws of the United States) therefore they are sent to Federal prisons. Some individuals awaiting trial for violating Federal laws are also held in Federal prisons (Schmalleger, 2009). Comparison of Jails and Prisons

According to Hall (n.d.) jail is a place for the confinement of persons in lawful detention whereas prison is a place where persons who are convicted of a crime are confined. Though the goal is similar, the road leading to the goal is extremely different. A prison is a state or federal confinement facility that has custodial authority over adults sentenced to confinement (Schmallager, 2009). The leading concept of prison is to punish individuals who have committed a crime. A prison is to isolate the individual whom has committed a crime from the external world or from society. Prison is based on solitude and separation. The main purposes of prison are to punish, teach deterrence, and rehabilitation to the offenders of crime. Jails, on the other hand, are locally operated short-term confinement facilities that were originally built to hold suspects following arrest and those that are pending trial. In our society today jail’s serve an even greater purpose and plays an important role such as housing inmates for federal, state or other authorities because of overcrowding in their facilities, hold inmates sentenced to short terms (generally less than one year) (Hall, n.d.). They temporarily detain juveniles, mentally ill, and other pending transfers to appropriate facilities, and they also operate community-based programs with day reporting, home detention, electronic monitoring, or other types of supervision (Schmalleger, 2009). Jails and prisons are alike because they house criminals so that they cannot commit further criminal activity. If there were no jails what would our society do with the overcrowding issues going on with the prison facilities and since more prison inmates are sent to jails, the jails are overcrowded. The importance of jail is a must to keep prison’s afloat. Probation and Parole

The history of community corrections shows that many changes have occurred in the criminal justice system regarding punishment of offenders. Shortly after the creation of the penitentiary community, many people came to the view that incarceration was not an appropriate response to address all offenders. As a response to this concern, community corrections, such as probation and parole were developed and implemented by the criminal justice system. According to Schmalleger (2009), both probation and parole provide opportunities for the reintegration of offenders into the community through the use of resources not readily available in institutional settings. Probation is used to meet the needs of offenders who require some correctional supervision short of imprisonment while providing a reasonable degree of security to the community. Parole, which is essentially a reentry program, fulfills a similar purpose for offenders released from prison. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of probation and parole include lower cost, increased employment, restitution, community support, reduced risk of criminal socialization, increased use of community services, and increased opportunity for rehabilitation (Schmalleger, 2009). The disadvantages include relative lack of punishment, increased risk to the community, increased social costs, and discriminatory and unequal effects (Schmalleger, 2009). Community-Based Corrections Programs

Community-based corrections programs supervise offenders in communities and work release facilities. They provide guidance, support, and programs for all offenders reentering the community. They will hold all offenders accountable to their imposed conditions. The correctional department is one of the functions of the criminal justice system and is responsible for ensuring the sentencing received by the offender is served. The effectiveness of the community-based correctional program not only impacts the community and state but also the entire criminal justice system. The program is intended to ensure that all guilty offenders comply with their imposed sentence and provide a service and program to help offenders become better citizens as well as improve their lives. A goal of community-based correctional programs is to correct inadequacies that contribute to criminal behavior such as drug or alcohol addictions, lack of emotional control, inadequate educational or vocational training, and lack of parenting skills, mental illness, and developmental disability. Through correctional treatment or programming offenders are provided services for their problems more so than they would receive in prison. Privatization of Prisons

One argument for prison privatization is that privatization of prison facilities reduces the overhead cost at state and federal levels. Private companies running a prison can be less costly than if governments were to run the prison. This because of lower labor cost. Public service employees earn more money than private employees. Private companies claim that because the contracts with governments can be terminated, they have a greater incentive to provide better service, which means that private prisons are safer, have better living conditions, and rehabilitate prisoners back into society more effectively.

Arguments against privatization of prisons include the treatment of prisoners. Private companies can place regulations and restrictions on the types of inmates it accepts, taking offenders with lesser offenses. Another argument against prison privatization is that if the companies goes bankrupt all the prisoners it houses would have no place to be housed, therefore they would end up in the streets again making the communities and society unsafe. Conclusion

Jails and prisons are a major part in the criminal justice system. They both provide a sense of security to law-abiding citizens and keep criminals off the streets. Through community-based correctional programs such as probation and parole, offenders can reenter society and receive treatment for their problems with the ultimate goal of becoming better citizens. As for the privatization of prisons there will always be pros and cons, but once the questions of cost effectiveness and legal liabilities of state governments and government employees have been addressed society might see more privately run facilities. References

Hall, D. (n.d). Jails vs Prisons. Retrieved from Schmalleger, F. (2009). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall

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