Reviewing Offenders And Criminal Punishments In Prison Criminology Essay


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Firstly, insufficient preparations for the release of an inmate in modern prison may lead to the increase of recidivism rate. In recent years, some of the modern prisons start offering correctional programs such as skills learning programs and education programs which old prisons did not have. However, most of the prisoners are still set free directly and lack of basic life essentials, which includes residences and job opportunities. In this case, the stress from homelessness and joblessness may coerce the inmates into going back to prison. For example, A research which studied the prison system in Queensland points out that the current aftercare services in accommodations and employments cannot meet the needs and fail to eliminate the anxiety and depression of the inmates after their release (Walsh, 2006, 109-133). Besides, the shortage of aftercare occurred in United States as well. Rodriguez and Brown reported that 30 to 50 percent of the parole inmates in Los Angeles and San Francisco were homeless while 20 percent of release prisoners in New York City were living likewise without stable accommodations (2003, 2-3). The result of insufficient preparation shown above is the rising possibility of re-offending. For instance, a study which examined more than 48,000 released prisoners found that the inmates using the shelter after their release had a higher rate of re-imprisonment. Thus, it suggests that homeless among inmates is a crucial factor of recidivism (Metraux & Culhane, 2004, 1). This is supported by Korn, who interviewed a number of male inmates in Australian prisons and published a collection of these interviews. He observes that among the 50% of prisons who have been incarceration before in New South Wales, the most common reason for recidivism is that without familiarity, personal possession and habitation out of the jails, inmates are likely to return to prisons where they are familiar with (2004, 169-170). Consequently, scanty aftercare for the released prisoners is still a weakness of modern prison for it cannot help the prisoners go back to public community and may even boost their rate of recidivism.

Secondly, most of the modern prisons assign prisoners to different security levels corresponding with their level of risks but this method may increase the rate of recidivism of the high level inmates. The majority of the modern prisons around the world have classifications of different security levels in order to manage and monitor the inmates easier. Nevertheless, this security label could probably raise the opportunity of the criminals for re-offending. For instance, in an experiment conducted by Camp and Gaes, randomly chosen inmates are evenly assigned into security level I and level III prisons respectively. Surprisingly, the result of the experiment shows that the group which is sent into higher security prison has 31% more rate of recidivism than those who are sent to lower security jail (2009, 139). The reason for this could be related to the prison environment and the mental experience of the inmates. According to Chen and Shapiro, inmates in lower security prisons are offered significantly more freedom of movement and opportunities to contact with other prisoners and the outside world (2007, 7). In this case, Camp and Gaes argued, the major effect is that inmates in harsher prisons tend to suppress the misconduct in the period of imprisonment and express them after release when they have fewer limitations and richer target environment (2009, 155). Taking account of peer influence, which includes meeting offenders and growing the experience of violence, Chen and Shapiro concluded that higher security prison cannot reduce the rate of recidivism, and many even increase it (cited in by Camp and Gaes, 2007, 2). In support of this, Camp and Gaes reexamined it and get the same result (2009, 155). Thus, classifying prisoners in the modern prison system is not an appropriate way to deter crime but possibly to promote the rate of re-offending.

Lastly, modern prison exerts hardly any threatening force on criminals. One of the primary goals of the prison reform is adding penalties to the prison system to enhance the minatory force. However, this goal has not been achieved since the reform was committed. Henry examines the criminal history of the prisoners in the United States in 1997 and found that 76% nationwide inmates have previous convictions and 59% of them have more than two convictions (2003, Internet). Another study done by NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research also supported this conclusion. It reported that the non-aggravated criminals who had been sentenced to prison have more chances of re-offending than those who did not (2010, 6).The possible reason for these unexpected results is that the threatening force of the prison is too weak to prevent offenders from committing crimes again. Henry states that the greatest proportion of convictions is related to irrational criminal acts like violence and drug abuse, which are the result of personal problems. Thus, those inmates are not likely to be deterred by the modern prison because they tend to ignore the potential cost of sentences to prison (2003, Internet). This is agreed with the study finished by NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, who concludes that consistent with previous studies, the results illustrate that the incapacitation effect which means the impact of the action of physically removing the inmates from the society to reduce crime is far beyond the deterrent effect (2010.1-6). Therefore, the purpose of prison reform is failed to be achieved because it is been shown that the threatening force of modern prison is too weak to prevent the crime and recidivism.

In conclusion, although the modern prison system is widely used around the world, some major problems still exist. One of those is that inadequate preparation for the life after release may lead to the increasing of re-offending. Moreover, different levels of security division could make the higher security inmates suppress their misbehaviors until their release could raise the chance of recidivism as the same result of the reduction in threatening force. Therefore, considering the facts which are shown above, it could be argued that the modern prison is not an effective form of crime deterrent.

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