Free Impact of Female Incarceration to the Community Essay Sample
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Incarceration is one of the forms of rehabilitation and punishment for committing crimes. Prisons are institutions that are designed to house inmates securely usually on long term basis. Offenders who have committed serious crimes are imprisoned for extended periods which in some instances may include lifetime (Clark and MacCreigh 60). Prisons segregate female and male inmates. The facilities, including those that hold women, are divided into complex arrangements of custodial levels, having most dangerous criminals separated from the less dangerous crooks.
Statistics shows that there has been rising number of female convicts in recent past. Changing roles of women in the society may be one of the underlying reasons for this increase. For example, due to equality at the work place, more women are held responsible for offenses such as economic crimes. Although women inmates are not as dangerous as the male counterparts, they still pose significant threat, and that is why prison authorities also use sophisticated equipments to help track their movements to ensure that they conform to the prison terms. Besides, they also place armed guards on towers placed in strategic positions to help deter inmates from attempting to escape.
There is a difference between a prison and a jail. Mostly, a jail is a facility that is run by a local authority, and it’s a place where adult offenders are confined. Unlike prisons, there are no different jails for men and women. Confinement in a jail is usually for a short period, usually less than a year. Jails are also used in housing individuals temporarily. Persons housed temporarily in a jail include: individuals on trial, witnesses who are in protective custody, offenders awaiting extradition to other jurisdictions, the parole violators, and children awaiting their transfer to juvenile prisons. There are other striking differences between prisons and jails. One is that in prison, there is an inmate culture since prison populations don’t change as much as those of jails do. This culture makes female inmates have a sense of belonging which is dangerous as it may not make them feel remorseful for the crimes they had committed (James and Bruton 100). Unlike in jails, educational and vocational programs are offered in prisons to assist in self advancement during rehabilitation. Women inmates undergo vocational training which enables them acquire skills such as weaving and bakery. These skills earn them gainful employments when they get out of prison, and they are therefore able to meet their basic needs. Again, most prisons have amenities such as exercise facilities, and offer services such as medical care and counseling. Lastly, while jails may consist of single buildings with cell blocks, prisons usually occupy several hectares and are surrounded with high perimeter walls.
Among the most serious crimes which attract harsh penalties are murder and treason. A significant number of female murder convicts are jilted lovers. Before individuals are imprisoned, they are tried in a court of law which is the institution mandated to evaluate whether one is guilty or not. Apart from imprisonment, other punishments include fines and probation. Depending on the seriousness of the offense and the age of an offender, a judge sometimes sentences first time offenders to supervised release (probation) instead of imprisonment. Prisons are sometimes referred to as penitentiaries due to believe that while in prison, offenders may study the Bible and become remorseful thereby deciding to reform their criminal behavior. Reform rate among women convicts, especially those with young children, is higher than that among male.
Historians have found evidence that prisons existed in ancient Rome and Greece. One of these evidences is the discovery of Mamertine Prison in Rome dating 7th century BC. It had been constructed under the city’s sewer and consisted of vast networks of donjons. Its basic use was the incarceration of criminals and political dissidents of both sexes in miserable conditions so as to discourage vices in the society. Although prisons existed during ancient civilizations, their widespread use especially for extended imprisonment began during the 15th century AD. Before then criminal offences against the citizens and the state were handled privately based on the law of retaliation.
As noted earlier, the number of female offenders was small, probably because they were entirely “owned and controlled” by males. In the period before the 15th century, revenge mainly involved maiming and physical torture (Clark and MacCreigh 60). For example, religious authorities and governments applied corporal punishment on wrongdoers, while death sentence was commonly handed down on serious criminals. Among the female crimes for which death penalty was applied include sexual immorality and witchcraft. However there were some authorities that misapplied death penalty even when offenses were trivial. In North America, colonialists patterned their methods of punishing basing on those found in Europe. They freely used the death penalty which resulted in the execution of so many offenders, male and female, for a wide variety of crimes. They also utilized a wide variety of pain infliction, such as whipping and branding.
The first prison in the British Colombia was constructed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632. It was simply a wooden building which was designed to hold a minimum number of criminals. It held both male and female, but in different cells. Presently, it is the government that usually constructs and operates the prison systems. However, due to increased number of convicts over time, governments have involved private corporations in the construction of prisons. These private prisons are run for profits, just like any other business. However, governments whose convicts are held in these private prisons pay a certain amount per prisoner per day. Again, private prison facilities obtain their power over the inmates from the government which necessitate greater government control over them than other private businesses.
Female imprisonment has been effective in areas like crime prevention, protection of the society, retribution against offenders, and inmate rehabilitation (Michel 9). Imprisonment also assures justice in a way that facilitates the reintegration of these women offenders into the society after their sentences. It helps act as deterrence to other females contemplating on committing crime. The emphasis placed on these goals depends on the objective aimed at by a jurisdiction. For example, in Scandinavian countries, offender’s rehabilitation and reintegration is emphasized, while in the United States of America greater emphasis is on societal protection. The difference in the objectives that every jurisdiction has arise as a result of the experience that each has on the different ways of reforming prisoners’ behavior. The difference in culture is another factor that helps explain why jurisdictions emphasize on some imprisonment objectives over others (Carlson et al 235). For example, imprisonment in Germany stresses on strict discipline, which is a reflection of traits associated with the German culture. This makes the administration of the German prisons to be rule oriented and military-like. Consequently, inmates in Germany are strictly controlled than inmates of other places in the world, e.g., until recently, visitors were not allowed into German prisons.
Today, the managements and operations of prisons are faced with many difficulties. Among the most common one is overcrowding which leads to several secondary problems such as increased prisoners and advocates litigation. Among the rights of an offender, and especially women, is a speedy court proceeding. In several countries therefore, there have been strategies to reduce prison overcrowding in order to enhance the quality of service offered. Some strategies include having policies that guide the officials in the criminal justice on how to deal with the accused before and also during sentencing. These policies are called the front door solutions. Other policies involve what is called the back door solutions which includes strategies aimed at reducing the inmate population by releasing them early. An example of a front door resolution is greater application of diversion. Diversion is where prosecutors suspend the prosecution of a case temporarily for duration of time when the offender should meet specific conditions like remaining drug free or employed (Carlson et al 230). If these conditions are met, the charge may be minimized or the case be entirely dropped. Supporters of the front door solutions urge more utilization of probation and more recommendations for leniency by prosecutors. They also suggest that the courts should emphasize community service, restitution, victim compensation, and fines as the main punishments, instead of incarcerating. Other front door solutions applied include greater application of plea bargaining for young mothers; confining imprisonment to the most dangerous criminals; allotting judges a specific number of female imprisonment spaces to enable them reorganize their sentencing priorities; and decriminalization of certain offense that does little harm to the society to constrict the range of offences for which criminals can be imprisoned .
Among the most favored back door resolutions to overcrowding is to use selected jails as holding facilities for prisoner overflow. In America, various Federal and state prisons contracts large jails to assist in holding some of their prisoner overflow for a certain per prisoner-per day fee. Through this program, local jails in America hold about 3% of all prisoners many of whom include women (Diiulio and John 20). Other back door suggestions include moderating the qualification criteria for parole or early release so that the mother’s role in raising her kids is maintained; altering the parole conditions to discourage violations; entrusting the governors and other officials with the shortening of sentences of certain offenders based on issues and facts on the ground which courts generally don’t consider; using more intensely supervised probation for some serious crimes involving females; and extending the number of community programs (James and Bruton 100).
Due to a rapid increase in prison population, as an improvement measure, there are some governments that seek to decrease their prison expenditure by involving private corporations in the operations of prisons. However, privatization presents new challenges. For example, these corporations bribe the politicians and the judiciary so that they can facilitate imprisonment of more female and for longer terms in order for them to remain in business. This might cause social breakdown, especially when women with kids are sentenced to lengthy prison terms. It also raises several legal, moral, and ethical issues (Michel 10), e.g., if an offender should not be allowed to benefit from her criminal activity, why should the corporations benefit? Should we encourage prisons-for-profit undertakings in our societies? There is a legal dilemma whether a private enterprise should legitimately have the authority in sanctioning female offenders. Critics of privatization argue that it is only the government that can have authority in handing down punishment on offenders. They add that imprisonment is exclusively a function of the government. It’s also challenging because we cannot hold the private enterprise officials entirely accountable for their conduct in relation to prisoner discipline and management. Another fear is that profit motivation might cause administrators to overlook violations of women rights (Vogel and Brenda 15). The administrators may also exploit prison labor unlawfully, or even harass women sexually.
Despite criticism, it has been noted that sometimes the private sector runs prison activities more effectively and smoothly than the government do, and at a lower cost. This is because government organs’ reliance on sluggish legislatures makes them less efficient as approvals for implementation of new policies takes extended periods. Moreover, privately run prisons can negotiate more effectively with other private enterprises to ensure reliable supply of necessary goods and services for the offenders (Vogel and Brenda 20). Moreover, the creativity of the private sector can be harnessed so as to ensure that the women inmates are taught latest skills in the job market.