Examining The Prison System And Penal Institution Criminology Essay

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Prison system, a penal institution, is a part of whole process of social rehabilitation. Furthermore, the prison system tends to monopolize and being the dominant in all form of confinement. Before the 18th century, imprisonment was the one and the most important element in the elements of punishment. Its purpose is to deter, and reform the offenders who get into prisons. By having retribution on the offenders, it also provides the protection to society by locking up the danger contributors. In addition, the use of imprisonment has been changing. The first change is that its role is in managing public order problems. Where short term confinement help to reduce the tensions, avoid trouble and provide confidence of the public, long-term confinement can help absorb violence offenders. The second change referred to the transformation of the nature of penalty inflicted. The moral and political purpose of penal sanctions has been shifted. Penal codification allowed the establishment of the new morality. Spierenburg(1991) argues that the combination of codes of legislation and new morality, however, was not possible until the end of the modern era (as cited in Matthews & Francis, 2006).

The use of prison was being coercive penalties whereas the time as corporal punishment and death penalty were being abolished. In 2004, Prison Reform Trust, the prison population in England and Wales was at 77, 004 which has 2, 603 increase on the year before. In February 2008, the significant record of prison population was 84, 681. Ford stated in 2008 that the Prison service declared that the system is full for the second time in eight months and that time court cells were used to confine the excess prisoners (as cited in Carrabine, Cox, Lee, Plummer & South, 2009, p365). As in the case of United States, the growth of prison imprisonment was predictable that it raised continuously in the future (Blumstein, 1995). The prison in the state of Ohio as an illustration; there was less than 10, 000 offenders who are incarcerated in 1975. By 1994, the figure was stood at 40, 784, which is quadrupled (Matthews & Francis, 1996). Instead demonstrating the number of being imprisonment, prison overcrowding can be measured in the way that compares the number of prison beds with the number of inmates in a given day. In 2003, the occupancy rate in prison was 121.5 percent, 112.4 percent and 135.7 percent in Hong Kong, England and Wales and Belarus respectively. Nearly half the countries and regions suffered from prison overcrowding (as cited Dammer & Fairchild, 2006, p280).

Scope of essay

As the trend of prison being overcrowded, it comes to a question that whether prison makes bad people worse. In 1990, a White Paper noted that imprisonment 'can be an expensive way of making bad people worse' published by the United Kingdom. The overcrowded prison was regarded as inhuman and degrading system. From just questioning about do the prison effectiveness to rehabilitated prisoners, this essay will evaluate whether prison makes bad people worse in the light of prison overcrowding problems, from the beginning of reasons why people are in the prisons to aftermath of prison term in term of psychological, physical and behaviors impacts of the inmates.

Who got locked up?

From the very beginning, it is important to look into the reasons why people getting in the prisons. Here are some arguments of the disparity in prisons, police subculture, and of those who in prison, drugs offenders take a large proportion. Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1992 shows that drugs offenders were 24.9 percent of the inmate population; the figure had increased to over 50 percent a decade later and over 60 percent by 1994 (as cited in Matthews & Francis). Many of them do not have previous violence record and they are simple drug abusers, and they pose little danger to the public safety. This indicate that a growth in population in prison because of the boom in drug offences. Among of whom, are youngsters, were believed with poor economic and social conditions, such as low self-control, fail in academic level, weak family links (if any) (Mattrew & Franis, 1996). In the views of police subculture, evidence demonstrated that stereotyping and bias of police officers further worsen incarceration rates. In US, the extreme black-white difference in imprisonment rates results in blacks had higher official crime and imprisonment rate (Matthews & Francis, 1996). America's imprisonment is observed as a form of class and race rather than a simple crime control strategy (Lynch, 2007).

Lack of privacy and personal space would also be the source of inmates' stress. Personal space refers to the amount of space that does not expected to be shared. Individual rooms have sixty square feet per person whereas inmates have to share a dormitory room with sixty squares feet (Gaes, 1985). Obviously, there is not sufficient or even no personal space for them. Furthermore, privacy refers to the length of time can stay alone. Increase in numbers of beds with limited space; it is hardly to imagine they still can stay alone; If do, that can only be allowed during the night. The remaining time has to be with other inmates.

The stress of overcrowding included idleness and fear would lead them to turn off all unwanted interaction and stimulation, noise. Different persons have their own way to cope with the stress, some may withdraw, some may aggress or depressed. However, the mentioned ways cannot enhance their health (Cox et al, 1984).

In 1994, 274 inmates were killed by other inmates in Venezeula jails (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006).

The Correctional System

In order to cope with the limited space in the overcrowded prison, it is important to add bed space which can store up a large amount of prisoners. This process, however, fail to classify the prisoners. In others words, it will focus on the availability of the space and ignored the suitability of security level and programs on the prisoners (Cox et al, 1984). Disregarding of this process leads to the slow exit to the correctional systems (John Howard, 1996).

Resources re-allocation in overcrowded prison

Accordingly, when the prison is becoming overcrowded, the allocation of recourses will be affected seriously. This is to say, there is a demand on the bed space. If the number of beds is enlarged, the same space and resources of the prison will be decreased. Not just having impact on the training and rehabilitation programs, but also the facilities and materials which they would share in Prison, such as washroom, television, etc (John Howard, 1996). The reallocation of resources further limits the works of correctional officials and increase the potential for violence. The lack of medical care will increase the spread of disease and cause the death of inmates. Because of the poor prisons system, the identification of the persons who in need of counseling, treatment for the emotional, psychological problems is fail to devote (Cruz, ??).

Lack of space for activities will lead to physical harms. More, there would also be poor sanitation, scarce of edible food, cramped calls and clothing shortage (Carrabine, Cox, Lee, Plummer & South, 2009). According to Johnston (1991), the unavailability of facilities would result in violence problems, as conflict will be occurred for completing the limited resources (as cited in John Howard, 1996); the inmates will be less co-operational and more social withdrawal.

To illustrate the poor conditions of overcrowded prisons, in the time after collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan, about 3,500 former Taliban fighters were confined in Shibarghan prison which built for 800. After the Red Cross visited the prisoners, some of them were sick (or died), with dysentery (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006, p.281).

In July 2000 at Arkalyk prison, forty-four prisoners attempted mass suicide in protest of conditions by report (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006).

About 100 prisoners were estimated who died in Nairobi jails from some diseases that can be prevented and treated (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006).

In September 2000 in Russia, approximately one out of ten inmates infected with tuberculosis, with more than 20 percent of sick inmates being suffered from multi-drug resistant strains which would danger the public health (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006).

Interaction with inmates

Thirdly, it refers to the people who are in Prison. Apart from the views that would be influenced by the system, the inmates also have an impact on the prisoners. In regarding to those who were in prison, as stated at the beginning, drug offenders took a large proportion within the prison population. Furthermore, by the logic of deterrence, criminals in incarceration should result with more serious offences. However, research showed that the serious offences have declined while the less serious offences have risen; and it showed the representation of minorities and poor (Lynch, 2007).

By the views of learning theories, prisoners can learn through the interaction with inmates. This build up their confidence by improving the techniques of committing crime through the communication with other inmates for their further offences and this would help recidivism. Furthermore, overcrowded prison provided them with a long duration and intensity with the inmates which can strengthen their internal social network. By the differential association theory, when they prone to the criminal social network and the criminal offences will be reinforced. Therefore, after they are released from prisons, they still have high opportunities to stay with the line of criminals. Again, because of the length of duration and interacting with inmates (especially those with a violence records), collective frustration and stress will result in rebellion. Brazilian prisons have witnessed a number of rebellions and jailbreaks upon the reason of overcrowding; a riot is carried out in 2004 at Benfica detention (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006).

The grief is that there are neither spaces nor resources for providing training, work, education opportunities as there are too many prisoners to cope with.

There should be classification which to match the needs if the offenders with appropriate program. Classification was begun in 1930s. Correctional Department has the authority and responsibility to assign inmates to institution where they can participate in the types they need. The objectives of the classification are to diagnosis of case problem, prescription of classification to specific programs to meet the diagnosed problems, induction and orientation of inmates to the correctional system and medical examination, quarantine, and treatment of new inmates (Pursley, 1991, p493).

By Marxism, the correction authorities refer to the bourgeoisie whereas the offenders were proletariats. Living in a crowded prison, with poor conditions of environment, some may even received torture, such as tied up without being able to move in North Korean prisons (Dammer & Fairchild, 2006), the mental and psychology status of the prisoners is being seriously affected. Having the long term suppression, with the sense of authorities losing 'the control of a significant number of prisoners, in a significant area of the prison, for a significant amount of time' (Useem & Kimball, 1989), there would be and at least fewer prisoners involve collective protest, such as stop eating or working.

Being imprisonment and aftercare

Because of the overcrowded prison, the resources are being re-allocated. There should be academic program range from courses for illiterates to college extension. However, overcrowding fail to address the basic education needs and related vocational training of prisons, and thus those who are released either illiterate or functionally illiterate. Once they were released from prison, it is difficult for them to reintegrate the society based on their education level. Lack of some technique in working makes them fail to find a job in the society. In this way, they probably associate with criminal acts for their daily needs and recidivism occurred.

Apart from the education level, there will be also labeling effect on the re-offence rate. After the spending the life in prison, released offender still carries the name of 'prisoner' or 'offender'. This society response lead to limited opportunities for the ex-offender to get back into society, and continued criminal acts will be seen as the consequences of restricted opportunities for the acceptable behaviors that followed form the negative response of society to those defined as offenders (Schmalleger, 2006). The current system created recidivism and thus produced the 'revolving door' criminal justice system. All things together generated extremely high recidivism rate.

With intention of prison crowding reduction, the parole system has been carried out. The parole system, however, found itself in a double bind. On one hand, in regarding to the overcrowded prison, prisons beds and parole revocation had to be treated as precious resources. On the other hand, in Texas, the attention from the media, pressure from political and concern from the public on the release of dangerous felons and the "revolving prison door" (Kelly & Ekland-Olson, 1991;petersilier, 1999).

Evidence suggested that among persons paroled in 1986, 20 percent of those rescinded and returned to prison within the first six months (Kelly & Ekland-Olson, 1991).

In the process, prison population rises continuously, and more offenders are required to be on parole supervision with limited services and programs for solving the the scarcity of resources. The intention to reduce prison crowding result in aggravation of what came to be called the revolving door cycle: prison-to-parole and back-to prison.


Alternatives and solutions400

When the position of prison elevated, alternatives are developed in relation to reduce the overcrowding problem, such as custody, day fine, suspended sentence, probation, and community service.

Because incarceration has a highly cost that put one offender imprisonment cost between US$20, 000 and $30, 000 per year. An alternative to this expensive practice is intermediate sanctions. It is less severe than imprisonment but more restrictive then probation (Cox & Wade, 2002). The sanctions included home confinement, electronic monitoring, boots camps, and fines.

The prison population continued to rise and the riots and disorders occurred throughout the 1980s. In early 1980s, the Conservatives introduced a 'short sharp short' regime into detention centers for young offenders (Cavadino & Dignan, 2007). Boot camps are a good illustration for the regime. The camps are with the basis of physical education, physical work and discipline which can 'shock' young offenders to stay away from criminal behaviors and the sentences of boot camps usually 'short' that less than six months.

Apart from the intermediate sanctions, community corrections programs also as an alternatives of the incarceration. It included parole, probation, work release centre, and other community-based programs. The advantages of such program are maintaining the contact of the offenders with the communities and their families. However, these programs emphasizes on the restitution rather than punishment, and of course, the cost spending on the community corrections programs is less then incarceration.

There are also therapeutic treatment centers which focus on specific behavioral changes, such as drug-related and alcohol-related behaviors. These centers will provide with a structured treatment but with a shorter stays, of 120 days. Apart from the major treatments mentioned, the centers can also deal with violence and anger management.

In order to achieve the reduction of incarceration, the idea of privatization of prison is brought up. It should be noted that it is not a fresh idea that agreements between prison authorities and private entrepreneurs were common during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. For the privatization of prisons, on one hand, it is the best way to reduce cost and to construct a new design of prison, with better quality of environment and management techniques. It is believed that private correctional service can operate more efficiently. On the other hand, prisoners' rights organization question about