The Prison System 1 The Prison System Carrington M. Nye University of Phoenix The Prison System 2 The Great Prison Rivalry, between the states of Pennsylvania and New York in the 18th century did have an impact on the prison system of today. Torn between straight punishment and rehabilitation, the two states rivaled one another to see which prison system worked the best; much as these two factors are in debate even today. Back then, it was the Quakers that thought rehabilitation would benefit the prisoners and society, while the new America was still under a great influence from her home land of England, where prisoners were simply punished, nothing more. Prison overcrowding was one of the major issues of our earlier prisons, much like today. The difference between now and then: Today we now have privatized prisons to take some of the slack away from those run by the Federal or State governments. Whether or not one believes that privatized prisons are a blessing or a problem, it is true that they do help ease overcrowding, they ease the taxpayers burden, and they make money all at the same time, by making their charge work while they are housed there. Not to mention being able to keep violent criminals off the streets longer, which are all very good reasons why all prisons should be privately held, in my personal opinion, but that is neither here nor there. For what reason therefore may private prisons be a bad idea? Jenni Gainsborough the director of the Washington office of Penal Reform International stated [That] “Because prisons are very labor intensive institutions, the only way a company like CCA can sell itself to government as a cheaper option than public prisons while still making a profit, is by using as few staff as possible, paying them as little as possible, and not spending much on training.” (Gainsborough 2005). This is one persons opinion however, and although Ms. Gainsborough is highly qualified to give an opinion on the subject The Prison System 3 matter, hers is not the only opinion out there. “Careful studies by the U.S. Department of Justice‟s National Institute of Justice and others indicate that if anything, private prisons are of higher quality than public prisons.” (Alexander Tabarrok). The words that stand out in the quote above, which first appeared in the Pasadena Star News (California), are “careful studies”. Other words to the wise from this same article, “Private prisons not only have lower costs than public prisons: by introducing competition they encourage public prisons to also innovate and lower costs.” Yes, get rid of the monopoly, which most Americans take issue with anyway, and then promote competiveness, which always brings lower costs: what is wrong with that? What has caused the prison population to grow so much? Many might state that due to the “War on Drugs” in the 1990‟s, prisons have become the home of offenders that might have been released on probation or given lighter sentences in the past, like mother‟s who have become mules to make more money to sustain a form of life for their children. Others might simply state that crime fighters have more tools today to help them do their job and get their man (or woman) more often than they did in the past when the biggest technological advance was the fingerprint. All of these are reasons for why prisons have more inmates than ever before, but the real and true reason is because people will always do things that will get them locked up and taken out of our civil society to either dwell on their sins or to at least keep them away from those of us who are not like them. Rehabilitation may truly work for some, but never enough to think that it is a good idea and to throw millions of dollars at a broken issue. The Prison System 4 Prisons are there solely to punish and to segregate. The people in a civil society do not want to walk on the same sidewalks as criminals, they do not want to shop at a store with their children where a armed robber may show up and kill people or use violence to get what they want, they do not want their children even going to school with „bad‟ kids that should be separated from the rest in juvenile detention centers. Rehabilitation, like earlier stated is a bonus, not the reason for prisons in the United States, nor should it ever be the reason, mainly because it simply does not work most of the time. The Prison System 5 References Gaines, L., Miller, R. L. (2006). Criminal Justice in Action: The Core. (3rd ed.). Retrieved from Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth. ISBN: 0-495-00305-4. Retrieved February 26, 2010 from Axia College, Week Seven reading, CJS 200 Foundations of the Criminal Justice System Privatization Would Benefit the Prison System. Jeff Becker. Opposing Viewpoints: America's Prisons. Ed. Roman Espejo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Private Prisons Harm Inmates. Jenni Gainsborough. At Issue: How Should Prisons Treat Inmates? Ed. Kristen Bailey. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.
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