When Corrections Aren’t Corrections

A guest blog entry by Fisherc (student, world citizen)

In the United States legal system people are considered bad simply because they break the rules of society.  When they are prosecuted they are removed from our society, put into a correctional center that is guarded, a place many people term as prison.  When they have served enough time to compensate for the punishment, they are allegedly rehabilitated and released.

Is this system doing right in any way?

Certainly not.

There are many flaws in the system described above, and also in the society as a whole.  Starting at the beginning, doing wrong isn’t exactly wrong. It can just be something that is outside the norm of the current society.  Removing someone who breaks the rules of society from society, by putting them in a correctional facility, clear doesn’t work.  For instance, “about two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years” (Cooper, Durose, & Snyder, 2014).

Taking them out of society is only a temporary fix, it is not a correction and does not correct the people who need it.

On top of that, social label theory is added to this. People who are released from the correctional institutions are label as felons or parolees and are required to identify under these terms on everything. If we had any true trust in our rehabilitation system there would be no label added to  the person to identify with.  It is clear that the current system is flawed and needs restructuring.   I don’t have the answers with regard to what social measures and rehabilitation measures need to happen in order to find a better solution to this.  I just know the current system is clearly broken and we need to do something.

Bring on the ideas.

Cooper, Alexia, Matthew Durose, and Howard Snyder. 2014.  “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010″. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 22 April 2014. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4986


92 thoughts on “When Corrections Aren’t Corrections

  1. The problem, I think, is that our prison system is run like a business, a business against the interests of the people incarcerated. Building of prisons is big business with the lawyers, judges, and other people employed by it. All this funded by the tax paying citizens of society. The money is being taken and spent without a doubt. Yet, the statistics speak for themselves.
    What rehabilitation? If people were rehabilitated, they would not be going back and we would have to close some of these prisons. Instead we build more. All the money that is spent rehabilitates few and would be better off spent differently. Perhaps creating opportunities and a sense of belonging within society so that people would be productive instead of destructive.

    1. Are you thinking of an area that would be deemed as prison but its a full functioning society just within the walls of correction, so like jail but it forms a full society where people can learn how to be productive in that world.

    2. The problem isn’t the one time offenders, it’s the people who continue to commit criminal acts that force them to constantly be put back in prison. It is a disease. A psychological defect that should be treated with psychological treatment. The facilities are good for first time offenders to learn a lesson, but when it is reoccurring, it is a hopeless cause to keep condemning them to prison.

      1. It sounds like your saying corrections system is fine it’s just the select, repeat offender that are psychologically damaged. I’m not going to say that’s right or wrong but if there are that many repeat offender that need metal help, it might not be the fact they are mental just that they think in a different way that breaks the society’s rules. This is a bit tricky to discuss because each individual will have their own reasons for breaking the rules. The Corrections system should address this. Because like you said its hopeless to keep condemning people to prison.

      2. True. It will always be a struggle to tackle the individual issues that people possess. I guess we can attribute again monetary issues or just pure laziness to the fact that society can’t come up with a more structured rehabilitation to help criminals.

      3. While I do agree that the prison system has its flaws, I’m not sure what an alternative is. When you say its a hopeless cause to keep locking the repeat offenders in prison, it makes it sound like you are against putting these people back in prison. These people are often dangerous. I don’t consider it hopeless to remove them from society, where they are prevented from causing more damage to innocent people. Don’t get me wrong though, I do think that any prison sentence should focus on trying to help these people reform their ways. However, like you said, some people are just psychologically damaged, and will continue to commit crimes after they are released. I think the only option, in that case, is to continue to lock them up.

      4. Hey Shawn of the D, your right finding a proper solution to this issue is not going to be easy, there are many factors that affect each person. What part of the system requires fixing first? Is it the laws that create order in the society or let people be free. Then in the judgment of the actions, do we set a standard bar like if you speed one mile over it’s the same as breaking it, doing 10 over, or make it relative to the person, i.e. never has been in trouble. Then while in prison the best solution to place them in labor, isolation, clinical help. All of these factors can affect the system at one point. What if there was a way to prevent crime? Looking at the cause of it and having outlets for these people to use in an acceptable manner.

    3. I don’t really agree that the system is flaud. When someone decides to break the rules in our society the only thing we can really take away from them is their freedom. Sure breaking the norm isn’t a crime is certain examples such as people being arrested in foreign countries for being homosexual. But breaking the norm by murdering someone or raping them definetly deserves some sort of punishment. I think people don’t fear the legal system anymore because people aren’t being punish harsh enough for their crimes. There are many instances where someone kills a person and gets many years sentence in jail and then is released after 7 years. If all murders for example were no perole or even a death sentence Im sure there would be less killing going around.

      1. I don’t agree with you on this. I don’t think that the appropriate punishment for a crime is locking someone in a cell all day to rot. I think that if someone commits a crime, they should be given the opportunity to grow as a human being and actually understand why what they did was wrong. If they are left in a cell, all that will grow is bitterness, resentment, and anger. They should be given the proper mental treatment so that they will never commit this crime again. On the other hand, many people are sent to prison for minor crimes, such as drug use and theft. Should they be sent to prison or should they be provided with some sort of therapy or drug treatment?

    4. I completely agree with this; rehabilitation is definitely the answer to this problem. In America, prison sets people up for failure. Once you have been incarcerated and released, it is nearly impossible to find a job. When prisoners can’t find a job, they have to find some sort of way to make money because you simply need it to survive. If they can’t make money legally, they’ll have to do it illegally to survive. Then they get caught, go back to prison, do their time, get released, and on and on and on. Prison is a revolving door of disappointment and injustice.

  2. If we think about the idea that our prison systems don’t quite function properly, i.e. they don’t do the “correctional” in “correctional facility”, one could make an argument that it proves a point for the death penalty. We can all assume that’s off the table. Now what CAN we do to alleviate if not remedy the situation? Weed out corruption, make prison more than just 3 square meals a day and free weights, but make it a punishment (but not violate any human rights or use cruel and unusual punishments). I think if we can find the proper balance between punishment and humane the prison system could be worthwhile.

    1. How about fixing some of the roads and bridges? Agriculture? I always hear how we need people to pick our produce, let out these prisoners to do it. Chain gangs would create a work ethic and these inmates could learn trades that could help them re-enter society.

    2. When a person enlists in the armed services that person becomes property of the U.S. government. If they tattoo their hands, they are penalized for damaging U.S property. I don’t think that they are violating any human rights when soldiers have to go through boot camp for 12 weeks. It’s not easy but when it is over, these boys become competent men that stand and stare death in the face in some in horrible conditions. Perhaps we need to mimic our military in our prisons.

    3. off the basis of what Stefan said , confining people into a room for a period of time just isn’t what helps people learn. for children it might placing them in time out, but that doesn’t correct their habits. ideally correction should be punishment. or retribution for the damages done to society . killing is wrong its no ones right to take someones life.

  3. I can’t argue statistics with you, but I can argue that correctional facilities are the best ways to detain people that have been deemed deviant and criminal by society as a whole. First, when in a criminal court case, it is always “Defendant vs The People of The State of Illinois.” With that being said, it is not just one person telling them they are wrong, it is the whole society, hence the reason we use a jury to come to a verdict. Now on to the correctional portion. There is only so much we can do to “correct” someone’s criminal behavior without it being inhumane. Is sticking someone is a room with bars inhumane? Maybe a little. But the treatment in the corrections facilities is actually quite nice. The problem is that it will never change. Society as a whole is so accustomed to the way we handle our criminals. If there weren’t correctional facilities, then what would we do with our criminals? Put them right back on the streets? Or kill them? No. This method at least keeps them off the streets for a while, helping the crime rate for the time they are in prison. I personally believe that reoccurring criminal acts means there is something psychologically wrong and that the individual should be treated at a mental institution.

    1. Scott, I’m not sure where you found the treatment of correctional facilities as being nice, but I couldn’t imagine people treating you nicely in a correctional facility. Just based off a label theory and stratification , if you were said to be not worthy of normal society, don’t you think that anyone who is in that society would consider themselves superior, and your treatment would be that you are an inferior person? However, the point I’m trying to stress is if some people can get a slap on the wrist and never commit another crime while others won’t stop committing crimes, there should be a better adaptive system that corrects the behavior , not a standard punishment < because that’s the current purpose . To punish rather than to correct.

      1. There is a difference between the treatment of inmates by the prison staff and the prison population. I know multiple people who have worked in prisons and actually served time in prison. Depending on location, inmates are granted permission to use internet, watch TV, have 3 meals a day, access to a “store” if you want to call it that with different foods and beverages. There is yard time which is essentially free time, so in my opinion, that doesn’t seem too bad for commiting a crime and being convicted. As far as repeat offenders, many people will call it a “disease”, it’s part of their biological and psychological make up to not understand that what they’re doing is wrong. Another thing it comes down to is money, some criminals would require more treatment then others, for an unpredictable amount of time. Although your method would probably be more effective, it would not be cost efficient, since in the end it is the taxpayers who keep these inmates alive.

      2. I can see your point, and if people don’t know what they are doing, then they should be placed in the correct correctional facility. Like an asylum. But for the sane ones, there should be an alternative way of problem solving. My idea is retribution where they have been charged with whatever crime and until they can pay the debt to the people that they harmed they will remain outside of the society . By that I mean work like all the old day prison movies, “Holes,” for example. I do agree with you that it would be costly to treat people with the help they need, but it is also costly now with the current situation. I had a teacher once explain that preventative programs reduce the crime rate drastically and cost only a fraction of the price. It’s this type of correcting that we need in the correctional system structure. Also the label of criminal follows a person, I don’t know if they are required to put it on the job applications but on the one that I just filled out they asked.

    2. I agree. The problem is that prison is too much of a luxury now. I mean really, getting all those amenities for doing wrong to society? I agree with you 100% that these people should be forced to work under strict rules and labor. The problem is that people will start to say that we are mistreating prisoners and that they have rights as a human being too. It’s just a messed up situation and personally I don’t think it will be solved in our lifetime.

      1. But they already lost their freedom, who are we to force labor on people who already lost their freedom from the rest of the world. I think that is already enough punishment for their crimes, and if they were to do labor then it should be by choice or an agreement made where even the prisoners gain a little something extra.

      2. Wally , I see your point but, it sounds like making deals with people who beak the deals they already have, might not be a bad idea. But why would the ones who bargain to repay their dept to society get special treatment. While others who don’t care just sit around and they both end up back in society. They should be forced to contributing to society while they are locked up. Pay for there own stay. Also they should have to stay until they have fixed the damage they have done to society.

  4. I think the problem here is the government being too lazy to do their jobs properly. Everyone knows we have a problem with our prison system but no one wants to do anything about it. It certainly seems like the only way to upgrade one of our old systems is to have to pick a president who has it on his agenda. No one else wants to man up and at least try fixing it. While millions ore wasted. Let’s face it, this country is run by profit hungry corporations who apply their business plan to everything they do. That is not a way to run the government.

    1. I can agree with that roman, everyone looks out for number 1. Especially the government who live by their own set of rules. However a spot of contradiction is if it’s monetarily valued the current system is just sponging up money. If that’s not working and just a waste of money I would want to correct such a problem. I think the need for prison overused. People who are waiting for their court date don’t commit more crimes. And if they do then they obviously belong in a type of reforming prison not one that just puts you in time out.

  5. American prisons vary greatly from Foucault’s idea of the panopticon, a prison of total surveillance. In Christopher Glazek’s essay “Raise the Crime Rate,” he writes about how American Prisons have become blind spots in today’s society; crime has simply shifted from outside of prison system to inside of it. For example, Glazek writes about how the official number of sexual abuses inside US prisons reported by the US Justice Department in 2008 was 935; only after public outrage did the Justice Department change its number to 216,000 victims, not instances. It can only be assumed that these victims were abused multiple times per year.

    Source: https://nplusonemag.com/issue-13/politics/raise-the-crime-rate/

    1. Benjamin button. Thanks for your insight to how correctional facilities like prisons, are not correcting behavior, and what it looks like, is that it is making behavior worse. Why waist the time of taking criminals off the street if they are just going to get a paid vacation to keep on doing what they do , then return to society completely unchanged. Obviously the correctional system isn’t working and needs to be fix, I would like to see some ideas on ways to fix this problem.

  6. Good point, but I partially disagree with you Fisherc. The legal system does change people, but not in ways that you think. Fear is a huge correctional factor to people’s lives. Many people have gone to jail and this has affected some people more than others. Some of them leave families behind while others began to see opportunity they had before entering prison. The fact that they have limited food, movement, and safety alone should impact them on how tough prison is. Yes, I agree that those who have left have returned in the periods you’ve mentioned, but a lot them them don’t. The correctional measures of the legal system do not necessarily have to be direct, as I said, fear and other factors can contribute to being corrected. You also mentioned why are they being labeled as parolee or felons if the rehabilitation system is so trusted. Doesn’t that conflict with your point on people returning to prison after 2-5 year period. If their chances of going back to prison are measured in such way, why not label them felons. Because if they were to apply for a job or anything of such, this labeling would prepare people on what is the possible action of this individual if anything is to come up. If they were not labeled and they happen to commit another crime within that facility, it would be because they weren’t aware of his past occupation of a criminal and such thing could’ve been prevented. One thing that has to be understood is that the rehabilitation system does not guaranty 100% correction of the person entering, but only to help guide them not to commit crimes again. And for those who constantly return, I agree they will need counseling. Let’s not forget there are those who get released early for good behavior, this is one of the things that shows correctional effect of the rehabilitation system on individuals.

    1. The point being criminals can’t be trusted in the first place. And that the correction in our society is just identifying them and saying they criminals. This could work well if all the people who got in trouble are never changing criminals. However the people who want to change are then stuck as criminals. It’s like people who get speeding tickets, it doesn’t mean their bad drivers , it just means they went to fast. Are we correcting the behavior by charging a fine. For some yes, others no. Currently there is no entirely proper system, but there has to be something better then the current.

  7. What you learn in a prison system is better ways to be “bad”. the chit chatting that goes on is about what you did to get there and where you got your drugs from. It’s also a self fulfilling prophecy. Where you’re labeled bad, treated inhumanly, and then just become worse off. It disrupts life, which then when criminals get out they are then finding the quick fix to life’s simple problem of money. Then you have crack addicts that need rehab and end up with a life sentence. It’s not fair. But what is? I think the solutions are in the prisons themselves. There is a problem with prisons feeding mostly all soy products to inmates which causes a lot of physical problems. So what about a self sustaining prison system at least somewhat, with farm land and all. It would teaching inmates a trade they never thought they’d know. It’s actually bettering the inmates for society. Or the “libraries” in most correctional facilities are a dozen books. With about 100 dozen more in storage. but the way guards treat inmates, they don’t want to treat them better. This goes along with their nice big power trip. How about a system that’s not there to pamper their inmates but at least let them read, better themselves, the classes you hear about prisons having maybe making that actually available. I understand taking the nice comfy necessities out of reach , you can’t make it a hotel, a vacation. While the prisoners and even once free these people “belong to” the department of corrections they are still a person of this earth. In that we for the good of people that are functioning in the norm should look at trying to help them help us.

  8. I believe that the problem does not come from what happens before and during your sentence but instead what comes after. There is this weird set of rules that prevents a feline, even after they have paid their dues to society, from getting the most out of society. Many jobs won’t hire them, college refuse to teach them, put on watch lists for all their neighbors to judge them about, and none of it is helpful besides punishing those who have already been punished enough. If we worked backwards and put all the time and effort that we currently spend putting people into prisons and used that for their rehabilitation on the way out maybe the number of returning criminals would drop. While that may seem counter productive anything seems to be better than the system we already have.

    1. Larsen is totally correct in felons and their treatment in society. We brand them as outcasts, We a society do need to think about how we understand a person who ends up as a prisoner. Most of the time they are already uneducated and living in poverty. They are already marginalized and to be then taken out of society and put into a brutal place like prison is cruel and unusual.

      1. On top of that, what Barb has said, gathering a bunch of people together who clearly have bad influences, can only increase the lack of stability in the criminals lives, only make a recipe for disaster. And when these people are released with new “bad ideas” will only have bad results.

  9. I agree fisherc, we need to find a more efficient rehabilitation system that can benefit both the society and the individual. I feel there should be a counselor that meet with each inmate at least once a week. The helps find and help resolve the inner issues of the individual,preventing them from committing such act or any other again. That’s just one option I’d give.

  10. I agree that the institution of prisons and sentencing needs to change. But I also believe that there are people beyond the ability to be helped. It is a small minority of the population but without putting safeguards on a system you put the public in danger. We need to do better job of identifying what truly is wrong with an individual. By understanding why they were lead to do what they did we can craft a suitable way to rectify their mistake with society. This would help stop recidivism because the felon would see them selves as apart of society not someone they are keeping out.

    1. For people who are so unstable that there is no hope in our current society. It’s an ethical issue if we can treat them as lesser humans, or institutionalize them. There is no hope for them in the real world. Would we be ok with out casting them to a new society?

  11. I believe that the correctional system is flawed. Putting “bad” people with other “bad” people and expecting them to learn how to be “good” makes no sense. Instead of locking them up and letting them continue to be surrounded by negative influences, we should be putting them into programs to help integrate them back into the real world. We should instill good values in the prisoners by helping them find jobs, putting them through rehab programs as needed, and teaching them how to become active citizens. We shouldn’t be allowing them back onto the streets until we verify that the programs have made a positive impact and that the risk of repeat behavior is minimal.

    1. Good thought Kristen, an integration program that replaces jail. However, that does sound like encouragement to commit a crime in order to seek the benefits of that program. It would have to be a strict program with extremely rigid rules. Would you suggest that the entire facilities dedicated to holding people should be shutdown or that would be a more gruesome punishment for the people who cant stay on the narrow path?

  12. Reblogged this on kailonifurlough and commented:
    I agree that the United States Legal system needs to be fixed. Think about it, our taxes are paying for these prisoners to be held in a cell. If I am paying taxes and I’m sure the majority of other citizens would agree that we would like our money to go towards something more meaning-full than to criminals that don’t deserve it. I think that rehabilitation should be the sole purpose of trying to better a person so that they do not make the same mistakes, however long it takes.

    1. Nice, thanks for the re-post kailoni. Also, I’m in 100 percent agreement with what you have said here. If I were paying money , tons of it to just hold people; it should at minimum be used to help and prevent unwanted behaviors. However, I also think we need to take a look at redefining what is considered criminal.

      1. Redefining what is criminal is exactly what this society needs to change the system. For example, Petty crime like being caught with marijuana should just result in fines. Putting someone in jail for weed especially if they have a clean record is just setting them up for failure. Being in prison only makes prisoners want to do crime because they are around other criminals and learn what the others have done to go to prison. Once the prisoner is released back into society it becomes very hard to find a job, food and shelter etc, which causes them to commit other crimes to go back to jail for the essentials (shelter to survive).

    2. I agree with Kailoni,but another factor we should look at is that is the legal system a corrective measure for the individual or a protective measure for the society? I believe if we separate the fine line between the two, it will prove beneficial for both the detained individual and also the society.

      1. I think that it is definitely a protective measure for society but is it really protection or is it a means of making money off society? If it was a corrective measure for the individual then repeated crime would not occur.

      2. Either way for corrections sake there will still be people who hurt others and violate the laws. also the current laws we have now may one day be considered as a mistake just like slavery. so saying it protects society really means it controls society .

  13. Another thing we should realize is that not all prisoners have been detained for violent acts. As kailoni mentioned in her recent post, people are also arrested for petty crimes like possession of marijuana and others,yet they still get mixed with the violent criminals. I believe what the legal system should do is separate the violent criminals from the non violent ones,this is very critical because if the non violent criminals are mixed with the violent ones, they can begin to get influenced. I also believe the legal system should make a zero violence area and allow criminals to live there as long as they dont commit or even threaten to commit a violent act. Surely, majority of the prisoners will sign up for this.

    Source: Seven Ways to Fix the Criminal Justice System. (n.d.). New Renaissance Magazine: Renaissance Universal. Retrieved May 13, 2014, from http://www.ru.org/society/seven-ways-to-fix-the-criminal-justice-system.html

    1. A zero Violence area. Why not everywhere? Take people who harm others intentionally. That would be a crime. While choices that only affect yourself Are one’s own fault and you can choose to punish yourself if you want. This sounds like people just need to be responsible for themselves.

  14. I think that the problem is prisons aren’t doing their jobs. The “criminals” are getting sent back almost right away back to prisons. You can say “they will never learn” but if you look at how much come back that number can be minimized somewhat by changing the prison system. I don’t have any exact ideas but, they make prison seem like not such bad of a thing. That’s a problem yes you don’t have any “freedom” because you’re in a prison but, you get to see your family and a lot of times you get out earlier than expected, and they get 3 square meals a day. Again I don’t know exactly what to do but I believe that something needs to be done.

    1. Agreed Colton, what’s going on now is not working. It may be a deterrent to many people who do not ever go to jail, but I think it’s because people who don’t go to jail generally know right from wrong and use judgment. I like the idea of a unique punishment for each person.

  15. I have personally seen that label destroy people from within. Corrections really isn’t Corrections. It’s more like taking steps down in society. When you take that step down its not alot of hands willing to help you up. That’s what will keep the cycle moving. I’m all ready labeled this, I can’t stand on my own, so they revert back to crime.

  16. I can agree that the current correctional system that is put into play is not working. This will be the first time that I will be putting forth a solution, so don’t laugh. As it is stated in the article, two thirds of the convictions have occurred because of the new laws that have been put into place. A simple solution would be to educate. The obvious error, is that the some people just do not know the new laws that are in effect now. The next step will be to inform the convicted the error in their ways, so that way they can spend the knowledge to the people around them. This does not only stop ignorance but it will light a spark in wanting to know what laws are being passed.

  17. I agree that our correctional system is flawed. We tend to label ex-felons as who they are because of their past records. Most crimes have occurred because people aren’t aware of the new laws that were put forth. People need to know about these laws. It’s the governments job to inform us but it is also our job to stay informed.

  18. I can agree that our correctional system is not working. As in the article, only a large portion of convictions happened because people don’t know the laws. I agree with Bryanah Green because if people don’t know, then they won’t stop engaging in criminal acts. People should stay informed with the current and upcoming laws so the correctional system functions properly.

  19. This was a very interesting article but I’m going to disagree with the statements. The first thing that I disagree with is that America’s correctional facilities do work. We cannot think that just because someone went to jail means that he/she has learned something from it. Many criminals such has thieves and home invaders or robbers will fall into their line of dirty work, I can agree on that. But, this does not show the performance of the correctional facility. It’s also up to the person to do right and to learn that doing bad things is not the way of life. As for the labels part, I do agree that we SHOULD have labels on the criminals depending on what they do. Such as child molesters and home invaders or even murderers the public should know who they live by or even next to. Same with jobs. If I ran a business I wouldn’t want a murderer or thief in my business. I shouldn’t have to fear my surroundings around me without knowing who is and isn’t a murderer. I know that I can’t pick a random murderer on the street but if I knew that my neighbor killed a person or stole something, I can move or take necessary action to keep my family safe. Tell me what you think of my counter argument. This was a good article!

    1. So Andrew, are you saying that a person cannot change, repent for their crimes, and not repeat the crimes again? Based on your comment, it seems to me that you are implying that a criminal is always going to be a criminal no matter what. Diversion programs for youth tell us a very different story. When kids go through programs teaching them lessons about right from wrong, much of the time they change. I honestly feel that if the correctional system changed how it did things, we would see a much much lower rate of recidivism. I really do believe people, even those who commit crimes, can change for the better of themselves and society.

    2. Sorry Andrew, but I could cite a plethora of research studies that would disagree.Yes crime has decreased, but a very small portion of that can be attributed to being “tougher” on criminals. As a thought experiment, I would like you to put yourself in the shoes of a criminal. Let’s imagine you are 21, so you have no significant savings. You get arrested for carrying 30+ grams a weed and subsequently charged with a felony (Illinois law). You do your time and decide weed isn’t so great and definitely not worth doing more time for, so you turn over a new leaf. This sounds great, but there’s a problem. Let’s assume you’ve been alienated by your family and can’t rely on them, so you have to make your own way. Because of your felony, you almost certainly will not get a job. You can’t take refuge in school because there are no student loans for felons, You are also ineligible for welfare, public housing, and food stamps. At his point, your options are rather slim- live homeless, kill yourself, or regress back to drug dealing and eventually prison, because there at least you can count on three meas a day and some stability. Do you see the problem here?

      1. I have to disagree with your statement, regardless of age or status with your family, no matter what the circumstances there are many different solutions that someone can go to before they fall into dealing drugs. There are many churches who are understanding of people falling on hard times and try to accommodate that person with either the pastor for the night or someone else willing to open their homes. There are shelters that take people in no questions asked and offer them a meal and a place to rest for the night. A more specific example, Kohl’s is a large corporate company with many stores nation wide that hires people through another company that helps get people jobs to come in and help with inventory. In today’s America, we have so many charities asking us to donate to them, Goodwill that tries to sell reasonable clothes to those with lower income, so many opportunities that if someone felt that selling drugs was necessary. Also, people on welfare sell and buy their coupons, they also do not require you to do drug test, and do not keep track of what you do or don’t use. You just get the same amount of money for the same about of items listed that you can use. Unless you get a Link card, even then so many stores have started taking Link cards as a form of payment that you can literally buy ALMOST anything you want with them, the bill doesn’t say what you bought, just where you spent the money at. Certain jobs do hire felons and public housing is more for low income families, not individuals, the government just assumes that it is easier to take care of yourself rather than yourself and young children,

  20. I do agree that the system is flawed in many ways. However, I believe the article is looking at the law in the wrong way. I would like to comment on the quote from the article: “doing wrong isn’t exactly wrong. It can just be something that is outside the norm of the current society”. The people in correctional facilities for long periods of time are in there for reasons that would seem wrong to any sane person. Rape, mass murder, armed robbery, gang banging etc. are a few reasons that people may be put in prison. Putting them in prison is mostly to get them off the streets (away from innocent people) and make this world a safer place. Only a fraction of the reason that they are in there relates to rehabilitation of their deviant ways. Many people will not change and will continue to participate in criminal acts even after they have been released (a statistic provided by the article itself). Spending resources on correctional programs is a waste when considering that the people who are in prison will probably not change. They are adults and do not have to have their hand held in the walk to being a better person, it is an internal fight that some people cannot win. You must give the legal system at least some credit with how they deal with the problem of dangerous people.

  21. It’s clear that the author has recognized the problems that lurk within our criminal justice system. However, not offering any solution for the problems listed comes off as though they are just complaining. I’m sure that if they had done more research, they would have seen that recidivism rates are in fact declining due to recent programs being enacted.

  22. I agree and disagree with some of the statements in this article. I definitely agree with the statement that society gives these people who come out of correctional centers a bad name but there are reasons for that. Most likely reason because they have done something that’s illegal, but that also goes along with something else I agree with. People find things that are “bad”, things that are not the norm. There are the main bad things that I think everyone can agree with. The part I do not agree with is that correctional facilities do not help the people inside learn anything at all. There are definitely people who come out differently and their lives are different. Sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it’s negative. The problem is that for the most part society shows the negative.

  23. I would agree to a certain point that the system is flawed. It would really depend on the crime to me. Prisons are definitely over populated and especially with prisoners who are convicted and held for non-violent crimes. When non-violent crimes come into play I believe the justice system does nothing but fail in that area. We absolutely need to spend more efforts in helping non-violent criminals getting back on their feet and not coming back to prison. In the other hand, if there is person who kills children, rapes, molest or any crime comparable to those crimes, than that criminal should most defiantly rot in prison for the rest of time to come. In those many cases, people should be put through the system to take its course on their lives. The non-violent drug crimes are the people over crowding the prisons and are the people that are suffering from this failing justice system that arrests and hold people based on the ability to pay bail. It is a way to make money but most of those drug related crime people are involved in just that, a drug incorporated life. Meaning, that most of the time these criminals can’t afford to pay for bail let alone buy essentials while in jail. They than take over the life of a prisoner and know nothing more but trying survive. When thrown back into the world, these people can’t get jobs unless getting a chance-giving employer who can see they are trying to change. The impossible part than, is if convicted of a felony drug charge. No employer ever hires a felon because it doesn’t give you some explanation time. It most likely just gets you tossed into the “no” pile. All of this is where the justice system fails, on their methods of convictions on crimes that shouldn’t be taken so harsh and real crimes that aren’t prosecuted harsh enough.

    1. I agree with your comment a lot. I believe that our laws should state that if you commit a non-violent crime related to drugs or theft, then you should not be sent to jail. An appropriate punishment would be a fine, drug treatment, probation and community service. But now the question is how are we to deal with people who commit horrific, violent crimes? Do you think we should provide them with some sort of therapy or do you think they should just be left to rot in a prison cell for the rest of their lives? Do you think that once someone commits a terrible crime, they are no longer able to repent for that crime and become better people?

  24. I find this article interesting as I did not know taking people out of society would actually increase them from doing more crimes. If that is the case then what is the solution? If someone does something bad- they cannot just stay I the society creating fear among others, I believe they need to be taken away to some sort of consequence or discipline so they know what they will be facing when they do it again. And I do not mean the same consequence- it should be more stricter each time they do it again and that should prevent them from committing crimes again because they know what they will be facing. I think that the jails/prisons are too laid back since the criminals have the full time shelter, food, services, they should not have. If a person know they cannot get that service out side they should not have it at jails/prisons because then it would encourage them to do more crimes to get the service they need in there (such as education, rehab, food, friends, and much more). For some cases it acceptable but it should not be that open to them. It would just justify the increase rates of criminals committing crime.

  25. I do not agree with the second half of this article. I do not have any knowledge on correctional facilities, how people get into them and who exactly gets into them, so I have nothing to say about the first half. The second half on labeling however is false. Child molesters, rapists and murderers should most definitely be labeled. It is more of a right for the people around them to know what they’ve done and are capable of maybe doing again than it is for the offenders themselves to have privacy. It sounds awful to say but it is for the benefit of the people living around them. If I knew there was a child molester in my area, then I would keep an extra close eye on my children. Some may argue that labeling will take some rights away from the offenders but that is part of the punishment. The offenders will have to live with their mistake just like a child or adult will be scarred or a family will forever lose a member.

    1. I agree with your point that child molesters, rapists and murderers should be labeled. These are horrible crimes and the people that commit them should be punished. Personally, I would not feel safe around them no matter how much rehabilitation they are said to have. It appears that the mandatory sentences for what are considered non-violent crimes are unfair. And the legal system is not always fair for lower income people. Celebrities that commit crimes like DUI’s are let off while the average person pays high fines and serve jail time. If the legal system that puts offenders in jail were to be overhauled I think it would certainly help with the prison population as well.

  26. In this day and age more and more states are turning to private prisons as a means to help save money. In doing so the states have actually added to the problem of an increasing incarceration rate. The reason behind this is due to the fact that if the states do not fill up the beds in the prison they have to pay a fee. I agree the prison system in the United States is run to much like a corporation and less like the help these people need. How can grouping criminals together possibly be good? After all, all it takes is one bad banana to spoil the bunch. The same can be said with people. The system starts at an early age with more and more schools grouping misbehaving students together to “help the good students” but end up exposing the kids that are misbehaving to worse and leaving them out in the cold.

    1. I really liked your comparison about bananas and misbehaving students. I feel as if state legislation should get rid of the prison quotas all together. What could possibly be the point of having a minimum number of citizens sent to jail? I feel the same way about policemen having to hit a quota of how many people they need to pull over. It is simply ridiculous. I think they should start thinking about prison in a completely different viewpoint. It should be used as an organization to help criminals get back on track with their lives, instead of just having their minds rot in a cell all day.

  27. This is a fantastic article that analyzes, what I feel, is one of the most pressing problems in our society. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate, per capita, in the world. This is an embarrassment, especially in comparison to countries like N. Korea, Russia, China, etc. America has around 4% of the world’s people, and 25% of the world’s incarcerated. Nearly half of young adults have been arrested by the time they turn 23, and I personally have met a man charged for murder when he was 11. Incarceration in the U.S. is absolutely out of control. “Corrections facilities” don’t focus on corrections, they focus on punishment. Punishment, I might add, that violates international law- for example solitary confinement. The focus of a prison should be to get the criminal to see the error in his/her ways, then prepare them to go out into the world and stat anew. This could not be farther from reality. Felons carry a black mark on their records that makes it nearly impossible to get a job, makes them ineligible for welfare, student loans, public housing, and food stamps, etc. Often times, starting again and trying to contribute to societal welfare is not even an option, which is why felons have extremely high rates of recidivism, homelessness, and suicide. Our prison system flat out doesn’t work, and it is getting worse.

    1. You are right in stating that the United States have a high, if not the highest, incarceration rate in the world. But this also has to do a lot with the fact that most of children are not being educated in the right way. They don’t learn the difference between right or wrong, but more of what you can or can’t get away with. They learn at an early age how to play on people’s emotions and they learn when and where and who they can get away with. In order to get things to change, we would have to break that cycle of having kids see what they can get away with and start showing them that they are going to get caught no matter what the age, sent to a juvenile center and if not scared straight then they would more than likely be back and soon sent to prison. They don’t want to see the errors in their ways but think that they can get back what was not given to them however they want. My job now catches more juvies shop lifting than anything, and they get a felony for going over a very high threshold, put there buy the law. And when I tell them that the police and their parents are coming, you can see the view who are legitimately scared, and the others that just do not care. It all starts at home and at school of how they are taught, once they reach whatever their state is the age of adulthood, they are no longer need someone to hold them by the hand, they get what they get. As far as welfare, jobs, and public housing goes, it all depends on the individual, the circumstance, and the family status, you can’t just group the single male felons in with the single mother felons that want to do better, because there are things and places they can go to become law abiding citizens again.

  28. The problem is that there is so many things driving the prison system, but sadly rehabilitation is not one of them. Powerful wealthy people don’t even see prisoners as people, just dollar signs. The people in the government would rather lock up minorities than deal with what led a person to commiting a crime. It’s quite possible that if we spent the money that is being wasted on private prisons on revitilizing communities then we wouldn’t even need all these prisons. Truly attempting to rehabilitate the prisoners is pointless because the connotation of a felon is that they are bad forever. We all know deep down that some people can change, but we have to provide them with a fair shot to get a job, apartment, etc. without being discriminated against so that they have the chance to change. We are taking a person who struggled with life and therefore committed a crime, then after serving time making them have to work harder than ever before against impossible odds to get back to normal. We should be making it easier for them so they don’t look for shortcuts like breaking the law again.

    1. I completely agree with your comment about how we should be using prison as a tool to help prisoners integrate back into society and be responsible citizens. It’s counterproductive how we take an individual, lock him in a cell for an extended period of time, and then expect them to go back to society as a changed person when all they did was rot in a brick building where they had time to grow anger and resentment. I think a probable solution to this would be to make sure all prisoners apply at an agency that helps prisoners merge back into society by helping them get jobs. What do you think?

    2. Austin, I agree with your statement because some criminals do in fact change. Like you said, I think that many don’t change because they don’t get the chance. They are just thrown into another harsh reality trying to build from nothing. If they had already struggled from before, chances are they need more guidance and instruction afterwards too.

  29. You bring up a lot of good points. We do label people who have served times as felons or ex-cons. This only makes it harder for them to even try to become normal like the rest of us, as many workplaces will not hire people with a criminal history. With that labeling, most of them end up committing crimes again. It is somewhat their fault that they do so, but I also feel the blame also lies on correctional institutions. In prison, you don’t learn anything that will help you when you are released. Since you are labeled a former criminal, you face discrimination everywhere.

  30. I think the subject of this article is extremely valuable and our government needs to restructure the way in which criminals are handled. So many people are incarcerated in America but if 2/3 of them commit crimes again after release its obvious there aren’t enough measures being taken to make sure they don’t return. Many countries in Europe have a much more progressive model for the treatment of criminals which ensures a lifestyle shift in those who are imprisoned. America needs to improve its system and treat criminals ethically. Just because they made a wrong choice doesn’t mean they should be devalued.

    1. Joshcoco, I agree with you and many others that America needs to come up with a better way to treat criminals. It seems as though every other country, but America, knows what to do with those who have gone to prison. Though some people just never change, I think they all deserve second chances. Big or small, they all commit various different crimes and it is not fair for all of them to be perceived the same way.

  31. I think the problem with our prison system is that many private prisons are focused way too much on profit rather than the prisoners themselves. I think the only solution to the problem is to eliminate all the major private prisons. You must be thinking “Well, then what do we do with all the prisoners?”. Since many prisoners are only doing time for nonviolent crimes like drug use and theft. We should provide them with rehabilitation in the form of therapy or drug treatment rather than locking them in a cage. They should also be required to take part in community service so that they give back to the community after committing a crime. The prisoners who have partaken in more serious or violent crimes should either be transferred to another prison or be placed in a psychiatric hospital if need be. If you take a look at Norway’s prison system or Sweden’s prison system, it is much more productive and focuses on the needs of the prisoners rather then just isolating them all day in a cell. I think the main problem is that America’s prison system focuses too much on punishment, when it should be focusing on rehabilitation so these prisoners can have a successful and happy life outside of prison.

  32. I highly agree with the statement that putting people behind bars doesn’t help rehabilitate the person that’s being incarcerated. This is because the continuous labeling of criminal or felon. The people who get put behind bars for example for selling drugs, end up being convicted and put in prison for a couple years but when they finally get out they are unable to get jobs or are able to provide for themselves or get a shelter over their head, so back to selling drugs they go. This is bad because they will eventually get caught again for doing the same thing they got put into prison for. Nobody wants to be associated with a person label as a criminal or felon in the occupational industries so the way the system is set up there is no real way out of prison because you are always going to be stuck to your past whether its a mistake, or you being at the wrong place or the wrong time, your record stays with you and follows you through your lifetime.

    1. I agree with you. How do you think this should be solved? Do you think that the criminals incarcerated for selling drugs should have the opportunity to get their arrest taken off their record after a certain amount of time? Should they be granted probation and given a fine instead of being sent to jail?

  33. Jails where initially intended for people who needed to be locked away from society because they would induce serious harm upon it. This is not what jails are being used for currently. People adapt to the prison lifestyle, then come out not knowing anything about how to handle the real world anymore. They will probably commit the same crimes and end up in the same place because they don’t know how to act differently. The solution to this is likely to reintroduce them slowly back into society, and not just throw them back into the world. Corrections facilities are currently inadequate in their methods.

  34. The legal system isn’t the greatest but with a better legal system means more money for the citizens to pay in taxes and people already think the taxes are high. So when in question would you rather spend more money or better education or prions people would tend more to better education. Yes the legal system is flawed and populated with first time offenders or people who keep doing the same offensive and ending back up there but the inmate should want to change and nobody can do that but themselves yes the system should help them but they need to want to change for them themselves first and foremost.

  35. One interesting thing to note is that previously, those incarcerated within our prison system were able to receive a formal education, which is proven to reduce drastically the amount of previous offenders landing back in prison once they are released.

    No longer is that the case, with all but several federal programs having been cut, thus removing any chance for an inmate to improve while they serve their sentences. This has lead to an astronomical jump in repeat offenders taking up space in our jails, because we as a society have accepted the norms of privately owned prisons and their unethical practices. They have no intention of trying to improve society, they just want to hold people behind bars like animals and make a pretty penny doing it.

  36. I take issue with the statement that, “it can just be something that is outside the norm of the current society.” What does that mean exactly? That if a person commits murder it is just outside of what society thinks is acceptable behavior? What about rape? It mentioned in great deal in other areas of this blog that rape is wrong. Saying that these acts are just outside of the social norm is ridiculous. I would not want to live in a society that these things were the norm. Would you? While I will agree that the corrections system is flawed, I would rather have a pedophile locked up in those walls then roaming the street. I believe that there could be better programs that could help non-violent offenders to change their ways. But if you kill or rape someone, lock them up and throw away the key!

    1. I totally agree with you T. I would rather not have those who commit serious offense like that on the street, able at any moment to recommit a crime. While some people shouldn’t be in prison, a lot of them should be. And even though some ex-felons end up becoming repeat offenders, to let them out in the first place just shouldn’t have happened. But I think in one of your sentences meant than* not then. I wouldn’t want that pedophile to be locked up and THEN be roaming, I would rather have them locked up THAN roaming. Huge difference, and totally matters especially in court and while trying to prove a point to keep them locked up. Sorry for being the grammar police :”)

  37. When we talk about “correction” there is supposed to be specific help put in place, if these people incarcerated wish to become ingrained back into society. But the problem is we do not have one system that works for everyone. Not all criminals are the same, and my solution would be to insert more types of institutions that are set to house less severe, less violent criminals, that don’t necessarily qualify for a minimum security prison. However, when society caters to those who have done wrong, it takes priority away from citizens who uphold the law. Society should definitely label criminals, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “people arrested for new crimes”, but why should a criminal be given the same opportunity as someone who did not break the law, regardless of circumstance. If it turns out you were falsely accused, then no it should not, if you (not the taxpayers) pay for rehabilitation and counseling then I could see it. If you commit a crime, regardless of how silly it is, or how much you disagree with it, it is the law, and you deserve to be removed from society. It’s a punishment. No one wants to be taken from his or her home, and that is the point. Its not supposed to be a place that you want to return to, and that is how you become self-rehabilitated. Prisons should maybe be stricter because the return rate for prisoners is insanely high.

    1. Most of the return rate are people who are homeless that have no where else to go, they know that if they thrown in prison it ends up being a roof over their heads, meal in their bellies, and warmth during the winter. That is when most crimes start to rocket, but you are correct that prison is supposed to be a punishment and you should not want to return. Some people who commit crime but is not severe enough to be put in a minimum prison usually get jail time, which is different, or community service or house arrest. So we do sort of have other options instead of prison.

  38. I fully agree that the current correctional system is flawed. I don’t believe that anything positive is accomplished in prison, as how stated in the article, a majority of inmates eventually find their way back into their cell. I’m not sure exactly what the answer is, but I know that there are steps that can be taken to help those incarcerated understand and learn from their mistakes. Providing adequate education to inmates cam drastically decrease the chance that they return to prison, as it opens their minds to new ideas and gives them hope to succeed after being released. I think that the removal of the criminal from society is a good thing however, I just believe that what happens after that removal needs to be looked over and changed. Removing the wrong-doer only covers the problem up, while education and rehabilitation can solve the problem for good.

  39. I completely agree that the current penal system is incredibly flawed. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, not to mention that it is yet another form of systematic oppression against minorities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 3 African American men will go to jail in their lifetime. These “correction” facilities are a disgusting joke, and the judicial system that sends the convicts there isn’t much better. A black man caught selling weed (and not like selling pounds I’m talking about a half ounce at the most) will get sentenced to prison for 7 years, while a man found guilty of raping an unconscious girl at a party is released from prison after 3 months. Despicable, and just one of the many issues surrounding this topic. The other main issue in my opinion is as the author pointed out the fact that these prisons are only a temporary fix to the problem. Most people released from prison will end up returning, meaning that the so called “corrections” occurring with the establishment is not effective what so ever. I, like the author, am not sure as to where to begin the process of reforming the penal system, but I think one beneficial step in the right direction would be mandatory psychiatric counseling for all inmates, to provide them with a safe space to vent their issues and give them an opportunity to work through ways to better themselves and their situation. However, I’m not very educated on what the logistics would have to be to make something like that happen and raise the funding to support it.

  40. I agree with this article in saying that someone being put in prison is only a temporary fix. I can relate with this one more closely because I have an uncle that has been in and out for years. Except, he is lucky because he always has a home when he comes back. Unfortunately, thousands of prisoners released from jail have almost no way of finding a job and providing for themselves. A lot of times you will hear them say that they prefer to stay in jail because it is better than facing the real world. I believe that instead of them being corrected on their mistakes, they are just there for the punishment. This system that we identify with has no real way of restructuring prisoners, especially if they always go back.

  41. I feel like there are parts that I can and cannot agree with this article. While prison is a rough place to be in for certain individuals who happen to be down on their luck and got caught for something dumb. I still feel like it is something that our society somewhat needs. Yes, they could change the way prison is run and I am sure other things, but for the most part, I would not want to live in the same neighborhood as someone who killed, raped, molested, or robbed. While sexual offenders do have to make themselves known to potential neighbors, have a requirement to meet as to where they live and have to register online. They still need to go to jail for the vile act that they committed, you can’t reward bad behavior with just a slap on the wrist and say. ” Now don’t do it again…” we have rules and laws placed for a reason, and if you break them for whatever reason, you should still know that there are going to be consequences and you have to take responsibility for your actions. And it does start with kids, you have to be able to teach them right from wrong so that they know. Time outs I personally feel are ridiculous, while they work for younger kids, I feel like once you hit 6/7 you should be spanked. They are still going to make mistakes, and most of those mistakes do not require a hard spanking, I learned fast growing up what was wrong and right and that if I did something I wasn’t supposed to do my mom was going to grab the closet thing to her.. I feel like I turned well, my younger siblings however, since the timeout was enforced, have turned out to be sassy, do not care where they throw their temper tantrum, or what comes out of their mouth.. Although hitting someone is bad, I feel like as a kid its more or less the equivalent to “jail” to them, and they learn not to do the wrong thing. But that’s just my personal opinion.

  42. I agree with everything you said about a person being labeled. Also, how society “believes” they know how to deal with people who break the rules. Now obviously some individuals may come out of prison different because they realize that life is not a life they want to live, but not everybody will. It is true that a lot of these people who are released from prison after serving time end up going back within the next couple of years for a totally different crime. I believe that the government should focus more on the people who are not one time offenders but the individuals who seem to be committing crimes over and over.

  43. Prisons are a system that have been existence since the beginning of time, The fear of negative repercussions of your actions was a very controlling factor in the past. Unfortunately, that has become a thing of the past. Our system is now watered down, in the larger cities, for some neighborhoods being imprisoned is the rule instead of the exception, the stigma of being a felon carries weight instead of embarrassment. Instilling pride and self respect into our society would be the best possible solution. Unfortunately, this cannot be done through the government, it has to start at home. Respect for our family, elders, friends, teachers, law enforcement has to be established and brought back into our communities and into America’s homes.

  44. Currently I do not believe the prison system is succeeding in some of its primary goals such as rehabilitation and prevention of future crimes. My dad worked in the DuPage county jail for about 15 years and never once did I hear him talk about prisoners bettering themselves in jail. However, I heard countless stories of misconduct and inmates returning time after time. I think that in today’s society the only solution people see is jail or prison and it has failed tremendously in doing what it was designed to do. In order to correct these errors there needs to be a better system. Try community service instead of immediately turning to jail. Maybe make the punishment more personal. For example, say someone stole $1,500 from a local store and broke a window to get it. Make them pay the owner back with interest and make them fix the window themselves properly. Prison and jail are not the only answer for crimes.

  45. It is true that the criminal justice system is not “correcting” prisoners but rather educating them. By that I mean that throwing people who have committed a crime in with hardened inmates is like sending an offender to criminal college. While there is a real need to keep dangerous offenders off the streets, sending people to jail for minor offences pushes them further into the criminal lifestyle rather than rehabilitating them. Privatizing prisons contributes to the corruption of our criminal justice system because there is a monetary gain to be made off prisoners, potentially increasing the incentive to send people to jail. If we want to end this cycle we need to start before a criminal offends. That is, we need to ensure young people have safe community centers and activities they can participate in instead of being drawn into the criminal life style. It is underprivileged kids who are at the greatest risk of partaking in criminal activities, so we must ensure there are programs to keep them off the streets and prevent them from offending in the first place.

    1. I agree with the fact that prison can serve as a “criminal college”. Inmates who have committed horrendous crimes can strongly influence those with petty victimless crimes. I believe that the structuring within the prison system should be different. They should separate the inmates based upon the crimes they committed to prevent further influence. For example, rapists, murderers, and people with life sentences would be separated from those with a pettier drug charge.

  46. Being a criminal justice major I’ve learned about many aspects of out system. The system is mean to rehabilitate yet many of the individuals who go through the system come out worse than what they were. Being in the system makes it hard to rehabilitate because once out in the real world the individual has to resocialize themselves (time depending). Also they are unable to get jobs therefore they resort back to criminal behaviors.
    So what exactly is the prison system’s function? To strip away the freedom of individual, objectify them, and bring in more money for the state. Hearing so many stories regarding prison over popluation just further shows how our system is not for the people but in favor of the government.

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