Effects of Incarceration
Shane C. Favinger
Holy Names University
The United States is known for being the home of the free, yet has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. How does this happen? Are the police too strict with the power they think they have? Do we have too many laws that people are unable to follow which then lead them to being trapped? After taking a deeper look into why the United States has such a high incarceration rate, it would seem that people make money off of prisoners. Prisons and jails can be privately owned and operated, thus making that person millions of dollars off of others shortcomings. Is this considered capitalism? There are so many questions that can be asked, but the real issue at hand is why these prisoners are not getting the proper treatment they need. Once a prisoner gets released from prison, the state gives up on them. They open the doors and say, “You’re free to go.” Most of these people have nothing, so they will go back to a poverty stricken lifestyle that will most likely get them back into prison or jail. There is an unjust system upon us, yet nobody is doing anything about it, even though it is costing the citizens of the United States tax money. I believe that the United States needs to take a look into law enforcement and not give police officers so much power. Also, shortening the sentences of these “criminals” would give them a proper rehabilitation as well as break down the barriers of re-entering society. Throughout this paper I will look at the impact prison has on a person as well as that person’s family. First I will provide information and statistics about mass incarceration and the effects it has on a society. With further investigation into mass incarceration, there are obvious positive and negative effects it has on a community. It is also important to focus on individualism. Next I will look at a single family, such as my own, and provide examples of how prison time affects not only the prisoner, but also the family. From a first hand view of what prison was like by speaking to a once-convicted felon, to an outsiders’ perspective whose sole goal is to lower recidivism, to a police chief with a job of keeping the streets clear of criminals and locking such people up. Lastly through interviews I will provide an argument for and against incarceration. At completion of this paper one will gain knowledge and be able to make an educated vote on the different propositions within your community. Statistics
It is critical to understand how our country has gotten to a place of embarrassment, having the highest incarceration rate of any country. According to Michael Snyder, more than 2.4 million people are behind bars. Since 1980, the number of people incarcerated in U.S. prisons has quadrupled. Approximately 12 million people cycle through local jails in the U.S. each and every year. More than half of state prisoners are serving time for nonviolent crimes, and one of every nine, or about 159,000 people, are serving life sentences — nearly a third of them without the possibility of parole” (Sakala & Wagner 2014). Additionally, 41 percent of all young people in America have been arrested by the time they turn 23 years old. The amount of men that are incarcerated in comparison to women exceeds their numbers. An incredible 90 percent of the incarcerated individuals are men. The incarceration rate for an African American man in comparison to a white man is 6 times higher; this statistic is caused by the racial wealth gap. More and more women have to be both parents for the fact that 90 percent of the incarcerated are men. “2.7 million children are growing up in U.S. households in which one or more parents are incarcerated. Two-thirds of these parents are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, primarily drug offenses. One in nine black children have an incarcerated parent, compared to one in 28...
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