Are Prisons Effective? Essay

1544 words - 6 pages

Are Prisons Effective?

Imprisonment; is it beneficial or non-beneficial? This argument is presented from the viewpoint of both sides of this issue. One group, "The Council on Crime in America", is pro-incarceration; while on the other side of this issue, " The National Criminal Justice Commission", is con-incarceration. Both sides have presented their viewpoints clearly and factually.

Those who are for incarceration present their opinions in such a way as to sway the reader toward accepting what they say as the only answer to fight back against the growing crime rate. If the prisoners are locked up in prisons, then they cannot commit crimes. Moreover, they feel that the criminals can be rehabilitated behind bars. Also, they view imprisonment as a deterrent against future crimes. For example, if a law-breaker sees his friend imprisoned for a crime he committed, then the other party will be less willing to break the law and end up in prison as well. Furthermore, punishment itself would satisfy most of society when the criminal is imprisoned.

Prison offers law-breakers a chance to receive drug treatment, educational benefits, and as stated before, a chance at rehabilitation. Also, incarceration costs less than leaving criminals out of prisons because the cost of housing inmates is less than the cost of their crimes incur. Plus, those in favor of imprisonment state that most inmates are repeat offenders that have probably committed many crimes that they have not even been caught committing. For example, some people feel that "low level drug dealers" should not be imprisoned, but these so called "low level drug dealers" usually can be credited with other crimes. Pro-incarceration feels that putting these criminals behind bars will help the public respect and have confidence in the justice system.

Just as those who are pro-incarceration expressed their views, the con-incarceration advocates did also. They stated their opinions, backed up by statistics and facts, on why imprisonment is not beneficial for all concerned. They stated that in some areas, young men consider imprisonment as a rite of passage or a badge of honor. Furthermore, disapproval is expressed about how the government spends more tax dollars housing prisoners than it does on school budgets, libraries, parks and others. They go on to point out that incarceration helps contribute to crime when a person becomes an inmate in prison, he or she must follow "the laws of the jungle". Only the strongest of the prisoners can survive the violent environment in prison. Therefore, when a prisoner is released, he or she takes this violent attitude with them. People such as Joanne Page, who have worked with recently released prisoners, find them shaped by the behavior they learned in prison. Professionals relate their anti-social behavior to post-traumatic stress disorder. They also feel that prison conditions make it hard for the prisoner to make the transition...

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