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Sasha Abramsky’s article, When They Get Out, dismisses the widespread perception that crime has deeply taken its roots to the core of the United States of America due to the marauding criminals of the American underclass as a baseless political myth that does not reflect reality on the ground at all. Using documentary facts and figures, the author acknowledges the concerted efforts made by U.S. security and intelligence agencies in combating various criminal activities such as drug trafficking and violent crimes- a phenomenon that has led to the dramatic reduction in the crime rate across the United States for the last two decades. This has seen U.S. records far much lower crime rates compared to the Great Britain alongside other European nations. It is regrettable though that the fear of the imaginary insecurity in the U.S. has overshadowed the factual realities of the lower crime rates across the great nation.
Consequently, the false politically instigated high crime rates in America have prompted introduction of tougher criminal punitive measures within the U.S. judiciary, prisons systems and other categories of correctional institutions after 1990. In the best interest of the popular political opinions, criminals are liable to serve longer sentences than required in the dehumanizing prison facilities. Conditions within the prison facilities have equally deteriorated to worse following the establishment of segregation units and introduction of 23-hour operating prisons. Additionally, the prison authorities have withdrawn financial and material support given to prisoners in a bid to pursue higher education. This leaves the prison systems faulty in their rehabilitation function since parole programs were also long scrapped off.
The author has done a commendable job discrediting the most popular perception that U.S. is a land widely riddled with flaring criminal activities from the marauding criminals of the American underclass. Systematic discounting of the unmerited fear is necessary for the restructuring of the American judiciary and prison/rehabilitation systems. Proper use of documentary facts and figures from other independent government agencies leaves no reader in doubt that the perceived insecurity in the United States of America is just but a politically instigated myth that lacks factual grounds and credibility. As a result, every single American rests assured that America remains the safest place in the whole world ahead of the Great Britain and other European nations.
Furthermore, the extensive use of first hand experiences and live interviews within the article provides substantial evidences to the major injustices and faults that prevail within the U.S. prison systems. In all aspects of life, the plight of the American inmates is brought into a sharp focus. Typical of American prisons, “the inmates experience untold sufferings in the hands of brutal prison officers as well as leading miserable lives within the supposed institutions of correction” (Clarke, p. 57). The author successfully manage to portray prison as a “hell on earth” for inmates; they are congested in poorly ventilated tiny detention cells, malnourished, exposed to all manner of infections and contagious diseases, and often succumb to ruthless beatings as elaborated by Robert Scullys, an experienced prisoner.
The shocking revelation about the inmates’ conditions within the U.S. prisons attests that rehabilitation is no longer the main focus of the institutions. “Today the policemen are just trained and equipped with the tactics on how to either punish or rather kill the criminals but not how to protect their constitutional human rights” (Kender, p. 67). The ill trained guards and prison officers have a strong feeling that severe punishment, mistreatment and prolonged duration of imprisonment for the criminals could adequately change them for better. According to Sasha Abramsky’s survey of state prison inmates’ 1986 Report, 175,662 and 306006 people were sentenced into more than five years imprisonment in 1991 and 1995 respectively. This reflects the reality in the U.S. society today.
As explained by Sasha Abramsky, it is absolutely true that common unethical malpractices within the U.S. prison systems coupled with lack of proper rehabilitation parole programs are the main factors that propagate an upward trend in crime rates. Hardcore criminals like Robert Scully directly results from the inadequacies and consistent failures in the systems of the judiciary, rehabilitation programs, and prison authorities typical of the American society today. Simply put, American prisons act as a rich breeding ground for hardcore criminals since most serious crimes are committed therein for instance Robert was arrested with a bomb in 1995, developed complicated forms of mental disorder and later murdered a fellow inmate.
Robert Scullys’ account as given in the article depicts real experiences of the prisoners in the developing and developed worlds. U.S. statistics show that “thousands of inmates are hanged, tortured or isolated in prison facilities against the principles of a good and purposeful imprisonment” (Clarke, p.83). Ideally, the consequences of imprisonment could only be positive if it transforms the inmate’s behavior and social life. Abramsky reports that percentages of unreformed inmates getting released from the U.S. prison systems soar steadily- a phenomenon that would jeopardize future security levels in the American societies.
In conclusion, high rates of crime in the American societies are far from reality but politically instigated creations of the cynics. This has led to a prolonged imprisonment terms, severe physical and psychological punishments such as torture of the criminals and elimination of the parole programs from the institutions of correction. All the prison authorities, judiciary, and institutions of correction across the United States should reinforce rehabilitation and parole programs in its societies as a sure strategy to fight crime.