Free Ineffectiveness of Incarceration Essay Sample


The criminal justice system is mainly meant to ensure that justice is served to the culprits and victims of criminal activities. From time immemorial, the major correctional method for most countries has been incarceration, or confining the criminal offenders in a jail. The basic objective for which the facilities are availed is to reform the criminals and cause them to change their behavior. Although this is the major behavior, the punishment of the individuals can also be considered as another duty of incarceration. However, a major concern has been raised by different parties. For example, it is said that incarceration leads to recidivism. In other words, the criminals tend to get back to the old behaviors, for which they had been imprisoned. This has been blamed on the structure, administration, and situation of the prisons. This essay has dealt with the effects of prison structures and administration on recidivism of individuals as well as the discriminatory characteristic of the criminal justice system with reference to incarceration.

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Recidivism Caused By Prison Systems

As explained above, recidivism has been mentioned as an effect of incarceration. First, it is important to understand criminals and how they develop their criminal behavior. This can be guided by reason and the research that has been done by other people on the same issue. Therefore, one should discuss the thinking and notions in the minds of the criminals, so that it becomes simple to make a decision on the steps that should be carried out in favor or against them. This is a notion that has been utilized by Dr. Stanon in his work. He has explained the criminal mind and outlined the various issues that have been thought to increase the rate of crimes and the subsequent repeat of the same crimes that someone commits. There are different reasons why crimes are committed. For example, they might be caused by family problems, mental illnesses, ignorance, or divorces. However, the truth of the matter is that there are people in the world who have these problems, yet they are not involved in various crimes that occur in the world. This does not mean that they are not in a position to commit the crimes. Instead, it only means that they are people who have chosen not to be on the wrong side of the law. In short, the people who get involved in crimes do not have any excuse because most of the crimes that lead to imprisonment are crimes of commission. If it were omission, it would be possible to argue that these people did not have the ability to perform certain duties of which they are expected.

Owing to this fact, one can see that every citizen has the right and ability to be in terms with the existent laws. If everybody were a criminal, this world would be the worst place to live in because everyone would be trying to gain from the misfortune and problems that they cause in the lives of other people. The work of the criminal justice system is to ensure that this does not happen. Criminals notice the fact that other citizens cannot do what they do. They choose to take advantage of this fact. They con and lie to other people for personal benefits. In some cases, they use force to acquire the wealth of certain individuals in their society. This is a fact that has to be punished by the law. It is clear that people fail to abide by the rules set to serve their selfish gains at the loss of the security and comfort of other citizens. This is a selfishness that should be remedied by the use of the necessary attention and seriousness. The major work of the criminal justice system is to ensure that they restore equality among the citizens of any nation. This is the basic definition of justice and fairness. However, the criticism of the current administration, existence, and management of prisons raises the need to discuss the effectiveness of incarceration in the reforming of behaviors of the criminals.

The expected effects that are to be derived from the imprisonment of criminals are different from the ones that are evident. To begin with, there is need to consider the reality in the prisons. People expect that the prison’s major aim is to rehabilitate the individuals. However, it is just only in writing. In real life situations, this is not the case. Instead, it seems like a platform over which people can be punished. This is achieved by the use of harsh conditions. This may be seem as justice for individuals who were the victims of the crimes. However, it is vital to consider that most of the criminals are sentenced not for life. Most of their sentences require the convict to come back to the world and interact with people. The offering of justice during the sentence is paramount to doing the same after the convicts have left their respective prisons.

Protecting society from the people who have come from prison is mandatory for any government. Prisons’ structure programs the minds of these individuals in a way that they believe in things that can be disastrous to the society because they are shown and trained to deprive other people of basic things in life. Such behavior is caused by the treatment that they have to face in the prisons. In such conditions, criminals become schemers. They come up with new methods in which they can commit their crimes. They become better criminals, since they feel that the criminal justice system has sidelined them and failed to cater for their most vital needs. In a bid to retaliate, they come up with plans through which they can achieve their criminal objectives when they return to their life in society. The harsh conditions to which they are subjected only prove to them that it cannot get worse than it is. They have to ensure that they make the best out of the time they are back in society. In short, they put more thought into the crimes for which they were convicted. Most probably, these are the crimes that earned them the sentence. By the final consideration time, they end up committing the same crimes and recruiting other members of society who qualify to be reliable accomplices. Therefore, apart from engaging in the same crimes, they recruit more members, an aim that is the counter result of what is meant by the imprisonment.

Recidivism can be considered for the individuals that have already been in prison. However, it can also be considered for those who got away with the crimes. According to research, less than 2% of the burglaries that happen in the world end up unpunished. Most people would think and expect the criminals to see the general conditions of prisons and be afraid to commit the same crimes. However, the criminal mind works in a different way. Some of these criminals do not have the luxury of a conscience. Instead, they are reckless and they do not care about what happens. It is this risk that makes them excited and willing to commit the crimes. The major cause of this is that the risk of punishment is extremely low. With a method such as incarceration, there should be efficient methods, aided by technology, to ensure that the risks suffered by the criminals are significantly high. This is the only way through which these criminals can be deterred from the activities that they are involved in. It is the only way through which those who are caught become a lesson to the rest of the people. This is why incarceration has been largely criticized. A method such as probation includes reduction of freedom for dthe criminals and increases the ways in which the individual can reform.

When the criminals are sentenced to be in prisons, they are expected to reform so that they can blend in with society. This may be seen as ironic by some people because the individuals are expected to blend with society, yet they are expected to reform away from it. When someone has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison because of a certain crime, he/she is expected to come back to society after this time and blend in. This is impossible to achieve. This individual only learns how to live under harsh prison conditions. In addition, the law in the prison environment does not favor taking care of the inmates. This means that they can hurt each other. In some cases, some of the inmates suffer irreparable damage. Such individuals do not feel like they are in a correctional facility. When they come back to society, they barely recognize anyone. Some come back to find a strange world if they do not have a committed parole officer. The last thing that they remember is the crime that got them into the prison. Therefore, they resolve to be criminals, but they take greater care to ensure that they are not caught. This shows that not only do prisons favor repetition of crimes, but they also generate better criminals who can hide well from the hand of the law.

With the assumption that prisons are majorly meant for the punishment of crimes, there are some facts that can prove it as the wrong method. The first thing is that these systems do not have ways through which they can accurately decide the prisons that would be most effective, if an individual were taken there. A perfect example is that of Mike Tyson. When he was young, most of his friends engaged in crimes. At a time, Tyson was convicted to attend the federal prison. For him, this was just like a grand reunion. He found his friends, some of whom were closest to him here. People just sat in the cells, as idle as ever. In addition, he could not be attacked by anyone in the prison environment. Owing to this fact, one can see why the prison did not scare him. From this time, he became an individual who would show a high degree of recidivism. During his life, he has been involved in other crimes. If the major aim of incarceration is reforming, it has not worked for this individual. This is just a representation of the people who have been to prison. Although some may suffer harsh conditions, there are others who have a good time there. Therefore, they are not afraid of repeating the same mistakes. In any case, incarceration makes an inmate a better and more dangerous criminal in society, especially due to the current reality in the prison environment.

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Research has shown that the people who get into prisons everyday are similar in number to those who get out. This goes to show that the system does not discourage the commission of these crimes. First, most of the prisoners that are released come into the world with numerous diseases. Some of them could be as deadly as HIV and AIDS. The major challenge is that these prisoners are not diagnosed before they are released into society. They are only let out and expected to join society as reformed people. However, the attempts to be reunited with society are normally unsuccessful. The result of this is that these criminals return to prisons. The major cause of this is that in prisons, the inmates are not divided into groups, according to the crimes that they have committed. Instead, they are heaped together and all of them are treated as if they have committed the same crimes. For those who had committed more serious crimes, this becomes a great platform to interact with the others and have a great time. As for those with less serious crimes, they feel that they have been treated unfairly. They take this reforming process casually and fail to adhere to any teachings that they receive while in prison. Furthermore, it is difficult to try to reform the activities and behavior of any person without, first, considering the crimes that he or she committed. In the end, the prisons do not function as correctional facilities. They just harbor hate and resentment for the system, which is a major cause of recidivism.

The allowed use of prisons in the world has often been misused by different world tyrants because they use prisons to satisfy their own political interests. Instead of offering fair trial to the people they wish to imprison, some of the dictators choose to take them to prisons indefinitely. The other way they can do this is by using their influence in the court to make sure that such people receive a sentence. A perfect example was that of Nelson Mandela. When South Africa was still under colonial rule, Mandela was unfairly sentenced to life. This court decision was later rejected by the world and proven wrong by the fact that Mandela became the president of this nation. When Mandela came back, his children were all grown up. He also had grandchildren, whom he had never met. Actually, he was separated from his wife, with whom he had lost touch during 27 years of his imprisonment. Apart from the fact that Mandela was a peaceful and sensible person, there was hate in his heart. He had the right to hate the colonial rule and plan against them. This is what happens to most people who are imprisoned wrongly. They end up choosing to commit the crimes for which they are convicted. This shows the extents to which prisons can also be used by dictators and deprive the people of their rights.

Discriminatory Outcomes of Incarceration

Some sentences can be made equal for both genders. In addition, there are sentences that may show discrimination in some cases. For example, a sentence that may take more than ten years may be normal for men because their responsibility may not be as demanding as that of a woman. However, for women, this may be a different case. For example, a woman may have a child, and it is the child who shall have a fair share of the punishment. Even if a woman is a criminal, it does not mean that her children do not need their mother. Instead, they are still needed in the lives of their children. The roles that they play in the lives of their children cannot be replaced by other people. There should be provisions in the criminal justice system that allow such cases to be treated separately. This way, gender discrimination can be avoided in ways that will not favor the repetition of unlikely and unwanted behavior in society.

The other issue that comes up with regard to gender is the transgender people who are involved in the prison system. There have been numerous stories of how these people suffer in prisons. A perfect example is that of a woman that was taken to a men’s jail, since she looked like a man. In addition, she had not committed a crime. She was just considered an immigrant. While in jail, she was molested by the male inmates. When she came out of the prison, she could barely explain her identity. She explained that she could not recognize the person in the mirror. Her entire being had been rubbed off from her life. She felt left out by the criminal justice system for not considering her gender closely just because she was not a citizen with a name that explained her gender. These are some of the ways, through which incarceration has brought about discrimination in terms of gender. Although these may not be seen as an important or significant problem, it has caused many questions on the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

In real life situations, racism is a problem that society has always tried to eliminate because it demeans people from a certain race and causes them to be defensive. This has been controlled in the world, although it has taken a long time. The major reason as to why this has been possible is that most people have seen the problems and atrocities that have come from racism. It is also due to the policies and laws that have been instituted against the same. Even so, this does not apply as the same scenario for the prisons. These people are put in prisons and let there to deal with their own problems due to lack of funds or the mere negligence of management of some prisons. The result is that inmates belonging to one race have a clear platform to seclude and treat members of the other race in a way that suggests that they are unwanted. The disadvantage is that there is no one to help these individuals. As a result, the individuals end up becoming aggressive, since this is the major behavior, to which they have been subjected. This interferes with the reforming process. The prison lives of these individuals become all for nothing. They are just people who are punished for the crimes they have done and who wait to be thrown back into the same society into which they could not fit. This is dangerous for innocent civilians who would assume that most of the people that are not in jail are less dangerous.


In the recent past, suggestions such as probation have been made in the bid to replace incarceration. The major reasons for this have been explained in the essay above. The essay has also explained the discrimination that is caused by the use of prisons to offer justice to the people. With the advancement of time, amendments and changes continue to be made in the criminal justice systems in the world. It is the hope of society that this shall lead to the development of new ways, through which incarceration can be made more of a reforming system, apart from one to offer punishment. This is the only way, through which it can be made more effective. However, the present system does not satisfy these requirements. It is the reason as to why it has been identified as a problem that needs quick attentionion the attempt to offer a remedy.


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