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The United States Criminal Justice System is a system that mainly focuses on keeping communal control. It has various elements that combine efforts to ensure that there is fairness for wrong doers and victims of criminal acts and it allows law breakers to be prosecuted fairy in the court of law. The main key theory that is essential in the US justice system is the fact that no individual is guilty until the laws have found him guilty of the offence committed. Criminals in US courts are, therefore, accorded fair and just trials. The laws upheld in the system ensure that wrong doers are not abused or given any form of cruel treatment.
The criminal justice system was set up in the United States many years ago. It has been there in history with its main task being to look into the safety of the citizens. During the colonial era, this system was influenced by religion and the presence of various philosophers. From its formation, the system has been used to ensure that there are checks and sense of balance upheld in the system. To evade the existence of authoritarian rule, the founders of the system ensured that not one individual holds all the power over the state and handling of criminals in jail (Kosof, 1984). It appointed some group of peers to interpret the laws and the punishments for the criminals. The task of ensuring that there are checks and stability in the structure worked to ensure that fairness existed in the society. With the advancement in technology, the system has become more refined than it was a long time ago. There is an establishment of detailed, definite, and standardized laws to govern the entire US criminal system. There are well stated punishments for every offence committed and all the judges facilitating trials need to punish the offenders according to those laws. The existence of prisons in the United States has been an issue that has raised so many questions; it is not clear whether it brings reforms, rehabilitation or is a form of slavery.
This research analyses the task of prisons in the United States. It looks into the current conditions of prisons in the United States under the current US justice system and various programs set up in the society and in prisons to lower rates of recidivism in prisons today. All this is assessed putting into consideration the fact that prisons fall under the US justice system.
There are five major components that depict the US criminal system. When a crime cannot be solved at local law enforcement level, then, it is passed to the next stage. The initial section of the scheme is the local law enforcement stage. At this level, when a citizen witnesses a crime being committed, he or she reports to the local authority. The police force at this stage is responsible for ensuring that the law breaker is brought to the hands of the law. There are some crimes at this stage that can be resolved by the police together with the offender. These cases include those of over speeding.
The second component of the system is court trial, which deals with the offender, once he or she has entered the legal system. The facts and evidence, collected for the case, are presented to the prosecutor who makes a decision on the case. The prosecutor decides whether the violator should be brought to court for trials.
The third component is a court case, where the case is presented to the judge. If it is a minor offense and the accused is guilty, then, the judge passes a punishment for the criminal. A major offence may involve taking the case for grand jury that will get both sides of the case and determine the fate. This is the fourth component. The last component is one that deals with decision making and punishing of the offenders.
Prisons in the US criminal systems are meant to be places, where law breakers and other offenders are confined in, so that they may take the necessary corrective measures. Many concerns have been raised over the main task of prisons in US justice system. There are so many people in jail, in the United States. This issue questions the main idea behind imprisonment. American prisons have been given various terms by various stakeholders. Some call it a rehabilitation centre or a place for reforming those who do not follow the laid down laws. Others name it as a place, where one losses his or her dignity for life since they are branded criminals for their life. Being named a criminal or someone who violates the law is not a term that just comes and goes away without hurting the person being termed by it. Offenses are always put on record, and, for dismissed charges, they will always be on record. Failures of the US justice system that has led to prosecution of the minority and subjection to imprisonment have, in most cases, led to the occurrence of recidivism and various atrocities in youth prison centres, especially those, situated in New York. These prisons are today under tight scrutiny for their use of force in a claim to reform. It has been evident that the prisons in the United States do not do much to ensure rehabilitation of criminal offenders. These questions have come up regarding the nature of treatment that the inmates get, while in prison. Some examples of such treatments are the fact that an inmate has his teeth removed because he went to get another portion of cookies. There are various other centres that have been identified for their use of force and their failure to provide the necessary counselling to the inmates or set up a program that looks into the needs of the inmates.
There are no health programs, tailored to provide mental health diagnosis to some inmates, who might have been imprisoned due to undiagnosed illness. Statistics states that most of the youths, who are in incarceration in America, have had a mental illness, psychological issues, while others have had developmental disabilities. People, today, are not surprised by the extent, at which growth of the US prison population is increasing.
There exists a department of criminal justice in the US, where prisons fall under. The bureau of prisons is meant to ensure safety of the community by making sure that law breakers and other offenders remain confined in an environment, where they are controlled, or in community developed facilities, where they are secure, and where they are provided with relevant programs that ensure their reformation. Prisons are also meant to ensure that offenders become law abiding populace. There are many inmates in the United States, and most of the imprisoned citizens are either blacks or Hispanics. These inmates are normally taken to work in various industries for minute allowance. Prison sector has become like a booming business for the rich who have greatly invested in the sector. They do not worry about striking workers, meeting workers insurance or vacations for their workers. This is because the inmates are always available; they are available on time and do not absent themselves from work due to family issues. Those who try to demand a higher pay are locked up in isolated cells.
There are around 2 million prisoners in state, federal and private prisons in America. Research has shown that America is singled out as a nation that leads in the imprisonment of its own citizens; it is a nation that has imprisoned most of its citizens as compared to any other nation in the world. There are so many reasons that are given to explain the trend of the rising prison population in the United within the last 10 years. This is because, in 1972, the prison population in the US was 300,000 but it has risen to 2 million by the year 2000. First, the private leasing of prisoners to work for tycoons has increased the rates, at which citizens are imprisoned (Western, 2006). Prisons in the US depend largely on the income, brought in by these prisoners who get work. The rich organizations that benefit from the cheap labour from prisoners lobby for longer periods of imprisonment for those who have broken the laws. This is because in so doing they get more and more workforce for their industries. They also earn a greater profit since the prisoners are poorly paid. In America, therefore, the prison industry is fastest growing industry with its investors being those who want to earn from oppressing the poor. It is well armed with facilities that any other industry posses. It has advertising sites, investment houses and food supply companies.
Prison labour in America started during the time of the slave trade. The idea of hiring out prisoners started after the civil war. Its aim was to see the continuity of the slave deal in America. There are a range of companies that are in operation within the prison; these companies are allowed to hire prisoners as their workforce. These companies include Boeing, Compaq among others. The profits, generated from the prison industry, have been rising tremendously. Prisoners who are hired out receive a minimum pay and in other prisons, they are not paid at all.
Programs, which seek to reduce recidivism in modern prisons
With the current trend of enslavement in the United States, many citizens have forwarded their concerns, regarding reforms in the prison sector. Prison population has been expanding at a drastic rate. The increasing number of prisoners in America has made it impossible for the existing prisons to hold. Many have focussed their efforts on setting up rehabilitation centres for the offenders. This brings down recidivism and decrease the number of the offenders in prison (Rabiger, 2003). There are several programs that have been introduced in the modern prisons to check the role of prisoners in reforming an individual and reducing the rates of recidivism. The first program deals with how to look into the livelihood of a child being born to a mother in prison does not end up being a prisoner. Questions have been raised over whether spending life in prison at an early age affects later life. These programs have been improved by ensuring that a young child does not stay in the same cell with other prisoners but they have their own cubicles, where they stay with their mothers. This ensures that they do not witness what is going on in prison.
The other program that has been introduced is a mediation program that ensures that both the victim and the offender meet in the presence of a go-between. In this meeting, they forward their concerns on what led to commitment of such an offence. They also give reasons that led to the criminal act. This program, then, is shaped up to find a lasting resolution for the problem. The other program is the establishment of boot camps to replace juvenile prisons that are in existence. The eligible group for these places was a group of young people who have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. They exchange the years of imprisonment to those in boot camps. In some of these camps, educations programs are started and classes that aim at reforming drug addicts. This program is preferred to modern prisons.
There are also various faith based programs that are started to look into motivation of inmates and change of behaviour. These programs aim at reducing the rates of recidivism. The prisons that have these programs are mostly for rehabilitation. There is also a program that ensures that inmates take responsibility of training a dog that will guide the blind. This instils some sense of responsibility in prisoners. There are other programs that include introduction of education programs for the inmates; allowing the prisoners to acquire their conjugal rights; drug therapy programs for the drug addicts have been set up since the highest number of prisoners is drug addicts. These programs need to be improved regularly to meet the needs of the prison population and ensure that it meets the main goal of prison of bringing reforms and rehabilitation.
Prisons in the society, as a whole, serve as a place, where a criminal gets the necessary punishment for crimes committed. With the current justice system in place, prisons have been given various other roles to play. This includes being a rehabilitation centre and a place, where correction is administered. After completing the period of punishment, an individual is released to the society. It is, then, necessary to set up reintroduction programs that enable the individual to fit into the society. Women, drug offenders who have been released to the society after completing their term need to be taken through a program that helps them to realize the importance of taking up the values that are appreciated in the society. Taking an individual to prison serves as an act that takes a person from the normal societal operations. The essentiality of reintroduction programs to introduce an offender from prison to the society has been discussed. The main task of community building programs is to help a person to be able to associate with a particular group of people in the society who will serve as a corrective tool for the criminal. Strange behaviours have been shown by the inmates, who have just been set free from incarceration. They may be rude, anti-social or have extreme behaviours. Imprisonment contributes to these behaviours, but it may not be the only reason for such behaviour. A just released inmate should, therefore, be taken through a program that aids in reintroducing the individual to the society. This is through teaching the individual various ways of tackling traumatic proceedings in their lives. In this program past stressful moments that led to the incarceration of a person need to be handled and one is advised to prevent the reoccurrence of the event in the future. This is, therefore, a program that prevents recidivism in an individual once released to the society.
Prisons should also have programs that are tailored for those who are almost being released to the society. These programs include organizing faith based programs, where those who are almost completing their term in jail are taken through with an aim of reintegrating them to the society. It is also essential to take the prisoners through an education program that most likely leads to securing a job. When being released, the inmates should be advised on various places, where they can be employed, or the prison industry should secure a job for the released inmate. This reduces the possibility that drug addicts will return to their acts due to poverty.
The public should be aware of various crimes, being committed in the surrounding. Various awareness programs should be set up to teach and create awareness among the unsuspecting public on how the crimes are committed and how they should prevent themselves from being victims of the offences. This is mostly for drug addicts and sexual offenders. The public should also add up in one method or another to the programs, introduced in jails that are focussed on preventing recidivism in the society. The public should also be taken through various counselling sessions on the criminal activities that are carried out in the society. This is because any person can fall a victim of any criminal activity.
Many of the prisoners are released to the community every year. The situations, under which they are released, do not allow them to continue their survival in the society. Most of them come out with disabilities that do not give a chance to get employment, buy food or take care of their own health. Without support from their fellow communities, they end up in recidivism. Under current law in the United States, prisoners, once released, do not have the right to use any of the nation’s benefits. This act increases recidivism. A new approach that has been introduced is the introduction of recidivism act that allows the offender to access all the benefits that every citizen enjoys, once he or she has been released. This act also leads to successful reintroduction of an individual to the society. The availability of community interventions that look into the likelihood that an offender will be able to access the societal resources after his or her release serves as the best tool that protects society from acts of recidivism. This program also involves equipping the just released inmate with the necessary tools and resources to be able to be productive in the society.
Many organizations and individuals in the United States have come out to speak against the nature of prisons in America. It is not patent whether it serves as a rehabilitation centre or a place for reforms. The high number of prisoners is recorded in America more than all other countries in the world. The inmates in prisons are depicting the existence of racial segregation as most of those imprisoned and hired out at cheap rates are Hispanic and blacks. The prisoners should be accorded an opportunity to be a part of various programs that are aimed at correcting. The existence of such programs in the United States ensures that the prison population that has been on the rise decreases. The Government of the United States should also look into the current conditions of the inmates and put up several measures to look into the possibility of giving the inmates rights similar to those of other citizens. These rights include the right of fair payment and other rights that a common citizen enjoys. Fair justice system should also be applicable to prevent the occurrence of ill treatment of the inmates. It is evident that some of those who are imprisoned are treated with harm, and, in most cases, they end up with disabilities. Upon release, they may not be able to work like any other citizen, and this act raises the chances of recidivism. The main purpose of prisons should be re-examined and dealt with to ensure reduction of crime rates and imprisonment. The situation of the current prisons in America questions the US justice system.