How successful is the U.S. Incarceration system? Society has its own system of punishing crime. Criminals found guilty within this system are put away from the society for varying periods depending on the crime committed. Imprisonments are always justified by tenets to either of these two philosophies which are protecting the society or public; rehabilitating the prisoner. The system has long believed that the offender is put away thus enabling a safer society, while at the same time ensuring rehabilitation. However purposeful study into the success of the incarceration system reveals otherwise.
There continues to emerge evidence that prisons do not actually work as believed. Statistically it has become apparent that those states that inject the highest budget for law enforcement to cater for facilities such as prisons, parole and probation and courts have correspondingly highest levels of crime (Lichtenstein and Kroll 17)
The United States of America has the highest rate of crime and yet boasts the highest number of incarceration facilities. One obvious reason would be that people referred to these incarceration systems quickly learn new criminal skills and therefore when they come out crime continues to plaque the society in which they were drawn from and that just explains the incarceration system 's failure to liberate the society off crime.
Illegal drugs, street crimes and varied forms of violence have virtually locked people in their homes in fear. These crimes pose a most serious threat and for politicians their ruin lies with how soft they talk and act on crime. The whole society therefore immerses itself in choruses of voices to demand that the society's justice system get tougher on the offender.
**Wakefield says this concerning the positivistic mode of inquiry that "Too much attention is given to changing the criminal and not enough to changing the system. This therefore does not provide us with a conception of human rehabilitation but it only perpetuates the established order" (4).
A more compelling case can be put forth, one advocating that the society's justice is a direct requirement for the public's safety or security. However a critical scrutiny of incarceration system which is mooted as an avenue of social justice needs to be carried out.
U.S prison systems have their features structured along racial and economic bias. Therefore endeavoring to understand how racism and economic bias play a part in the prison systems will give important insights as to why these incarceration systems are not after all protecting the public(Lichtenstein and Kroll 18)
The society losses from 'white collar' crime far exceeds the economic impact of all burglaries, robberies, larcenies and car thefts combined (Lichtenstein and Kroll 20)
However on assessing the course of justice in this scenario this class of criminals is far less likely to go to jail than criminals of colour. This point to the racist structure within the incarceration system in the U.S. The likely conclusion here would also be that prisons may not be reserved for the dangerously violent criminals. This then would imply that the incarceration system may not necessarily guarantee public safety.
National statistics will indicate that the rate of imprisonment for African Americans stands at nine times more than that of the European American.
Racisms continue to be dominantly evident within the correctional facilities in the U.S to the point of affecting the prison terms handed down to offenders. African American offenders will land sentences that are about twenty percent longer for similar offences committed.
Economic instability and related hardship due to factors such as unemployment and illiteracy have negatively impacted families as people within families resort to committing economic crimes. The number of women in prison continues to rise because of this fact most of who are put away because of economic crimes. Many of these are African American women.
The Joint Economic Committee of Congress in their sitting in 1976 arrived at the conclusion that it was unemployment that caused criminal behaviour (Lichtenstein and Kroll 23).
We therefore can infer that as more poor people become more marginalized economically the number of economic offenders increase and their number in prison is likely to increase
Mass incarcerations continue to weigh down on the economy while the offender is only kept away but not rehabilitated. New prisons and other correctional facilities are being built at the expense of improving the social welfare systems and creating more employment opportunities.
With these mass incarcerations have come what is known as the prison industrial complex. While the development of these correctional facilities is now being privatized, the corporate world is now looking to prisons for cheap labour. This approach however is only working to magnify the mass incarceration problem by impoverishing and devouring the social wealth that would have helped to alleviate the economic strain on the inhabitants that lead them to commit economic crimes.
Incarceration system failure is further compounded as many offenders upon release from this facilities live lives that are isolated and in other cases traumatized. This is as a result of the social ills that are evident within these facilities. Many of these offenders are physically violated and will always suffer in secret. Rape and sodomy are used to subject them to physical and psychological trauma an effect that affects them in their whole lives.
These abuses are normally carried on by the prison security agents or fellow inmates with the knowledge of the prison security agents.
These periods in the incarceration systems may cause trauma that will even affect the very families of those out of prison (Parenti 184).
It is therefore evident that incarceration systems in the U.S are not meeting the objective based on the two fold philosophy of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating the offender.
The conspicuous economic and racially biased structures on which the American incarceration systems are built literally work against the very same victims of crime. The clearest illustration draws out the fact that the racial and economic discrimination reinforce each other in these incarceration facilities.
The ever soaring incarceration rates point out that hostile impact of the economic dislocation of communities of colour (Lichtenstein and Kroll 24).
Not withholding it can be concluded that all these forces have a profoundly negative effect especially so on the society's or community's ability to propagate family life.
Davis points out the fact that just by segregating or discriminating against people labeled as criminals, the incarceration systems in the U.S are systematically strengthening and covering the racially oriented structure of the U.S economy.
It is therefore a very critical and truthful assertion that for the incarceration systems of the U.S to bear forth the desired effect, a number of issues must be addressed. The biggest of these issues would involve the unwinding of perceptions that may likely be stemming from the post slavery perceptions that were carried over and incorporated into the incarceration systems. The fact that the larger percentage of those within these systems are of the African American race clearly lends to the fact that perhaps a total overhaul of the system may be the only solution in place to again begin to benefit from a balanced and positive incarceration system. However this will require a lot of sacrifice and political goodwill to be achieved. A positive and beneficial incarceration system should be one that is economically, socially and politically acceptable by the society. While the task may be a huge one the first step is one of acknowledgement that the society is subtly racial and this mindset continues to affect many aspects social, political and economic in the U.S.
Having agreed to this fact then an attitude change must begin to be developed that can be able to eventually dismantle the racial and economic bias that have made these incarceration systems ineffective.
A drastic realization is likely to result in manner of reduced spending on law enforcement issues and a more socially secure society with reduced crime rates. A social justice system which in the eyes of all is just is likely to reduce the incidences of crime within the society thereby offering the much needed hope within.
According to this study therefore we can understand that the incarceration system in the U.S has seriously failed to achieve its initial intended objectives. An overhaul must be effected and other alternatives explored because the same prison systems have now become social, economic and political drain outs.