How does our correctional system punish offenders? Essay Sample

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Convicted felons can be punished in many different ways, but one thing is sure it would not be cruel and unusual. Before we look at how we punish offenders we must first understand why we are punishing them. The general purpose behind punishment is to inflict upon criminals some kind of suffering for the crime that they have committed or to protect society from those considered too dangerous to live amongst us. Punishment, a necessary evil, is sometimes required to deter law violators from repeating their crime and to serve as an example to others who would also violate the law. Schmalleger, Frank J. Criminal Justice Today An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (81). After the trial, the court will sentence the offender for the crime that has been committed. As mentioned earlier the punishment cannot be cruel and unusual as The Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits this type of punishment. Some types of punishments are the death penalty, prison terms, and community service.

Staying true to the eight amendment right the punishment must suit the crime. In the United States each state issues the death penalty for different reasons, for example in the state of Arizona a crime where there was first-degree murder, including pre-meditated murder and felony murder, accompanied by at least 1 of 14 aggravating factors would get the death penalty. Georgia, a crime where there was murder with aggravating circumstances; kidnapping with bodily injury or ransom when the victim dies; aircraft hijacking; treason. In the state of New Hampshire, a murder committed in the course of rape, kidnapping, drug crimes, or burglary; killing of a police officer, judge or prosecutor; murder for hire; murder by an inmate while serving a sentence of life without parole would get the death penalty. Around the world there are many different types of prisons. There are a few reasons why imprisonment is a good of a form of punishment. Imprisonment help deters those who would commit crimes. Secondly imprisonment focuses on issuing punishment to the offender, or obtaining retribution from, those who have committed serious crimes.

In some cases it is necessary to protect the public from those who commit crimes. Final and probably the most rewarding reason is; imprisonment sometimes encourages personal reform. Community service is effectively being used in all 50 states and at the federal level as a punishment and juvenile adjudications involving diversion, probation, and parole. This is the act of the offender performing tasks or jobs that benefit their community. The purpose of community service is to hold the offender accountable for the crime they have committed to the community weather it may be graffiti or vandalism. It also provides communities with the human element that can improve the quality of life in public environments, business, and even individual residences. Community service also helps offenders develop new skills through supervised work activities. How does our correctional system rehabilitate offenders?

Prison often changes the mindset of the inmates and before they can be release back in to the community rehabilitation programs are carried out in prisons. The theory behind prisoner rehabilitation is that an inmate is not permanently scared or has a tunnel vision mindset and that it is possible to restore them to a life in which they contribute to themselves and to society around them. The procedure for rehabilitating the inmate would be different for each individual. It would depend on that individual mental state, why they were imprisoned, gender, race etc. Research has shown that prisoners who attend education programs during incarceration are less likely to return to prison in the future if they complete a course which teaches skills in how to successfully read and write. In these cases, appropriate education leads to a more humane and more tolerable prison environment for the inmates to live and the staff and officers to work. {James S. Vacca} Vocational programs have been successful because they are considered a break from traditional prison routines.

They also provide great follow up services for inmates after release. Which method is more effective in reducing crime; Punishment or rehabilitation? Punishment and rehabilitation complement each other. To effectively reduce crime both punishment and rehabilitation must be used. Without Punishment the criminal offender would not learn from his mistakes. Without consequences people would not be deterred from their actions. After punishment is administered and or served only then you can try to rehabilitate the criminal offender. At this point rehabilitation seeks to bring about fundamental changes in offenders and their behavior to reduce the likelihood of future criminality (Schmalleger, Frank J. Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (412)) giving the offender a second chance to a successful and productive life in society. Because the criminal offender has been sentences to some sort of punishment this cause him or her to take a second look at their life and make changes; weather it may be for the family they may have or to better themselves.


James S. Vacca
Journal of Correctional Education
Vol. 55, No. 4 (December 2004), pp. 297-305
Published by: Correctional Education Association
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