An Introduction to the US Criminal Justice System

Topics: Prison, Criminal justice, Crime Pages: 5 (874 words) Published: May 26, 2015
Running Head: FINAL ESSAY

Final Essay Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
Kaplan University

Professor Lagerwall
January 13, 2011
Final Essay Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
The correctional system in the United States plays a major role in the criminal justice system. The correctional system is responsible for punishing individuals that have been found guilty of a crime. The main form of punishment is incarceration in either a prison or a jail. The correctional system is also responsible for rehabilitating offenders and preparing them to become productive members of society upon their release. By punishing and/or rehabilitating offenders, the main focus of the system to keep society safe. Once an individual is found guilty of a crime, they are sent to the correctional system. Based on the type of crime and severity of the crime, the correctional system determines where an offender will serve their sentence. Most violent and repeat offenders are sent to prison, a place of confinement for the punishment and rehabilitation of criminals (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). The purpose of prison is to keep the offenders away from society and make them pay for the crime that they committed. While in prison, offenders have little freedom. They are told when to eat, when to sleep, and when they can go outside. By having such strict rules, the hope is that offenders will learn discipline that would benefit them if they were released back into society. These rules are also a necessary part of the correctional system. With so many offenders incarcerated, it is necessary to have order and control within the prisons. America has the world's largest prison population as well as the highest incarceration rate (Dutta, Sunil). The correctional system and its facilities have a large responsibility when it comes to controlling the prisons and the offenders. While offenders are in prison, it is the hope that they can be rehabilitated. There are programs in prisons designed to teach offenders how to become productive members of society. Prisons offer 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to help offenders addicted to alcohol and drugs. These programs have been proven to work as long as the person is willing to work the program. By offering these types of programs, the prison is treating the offender for what is more than likely the cause of their criminal activity. By treating the problem, they are also helping the offender to gain a better understanding of their disease and get it under control. Along with 12-step programs, prisons offer other services to offenders. If they chose, offenders can take classes and obtain their GED while incarcerated. The hope is that with a GED they will be able to gain employment when released. Rehabilitation is an important and necessary function of the correctional system. Offenders that have the opportunity to take advantage of these programs have a better chance of turning their life around and, upon release, not going back to their old ways. Punishment and rehabilitation are both effective ways for reducing crime. When the offenders are punished, they learn that there are consequences for their actions. They do not have the ability to do as they please and not pay the price. Rehabilitation is effective because it helps the offenders change their ways and learn valuable skills and discipline necessary to become law-abiding citizens. An example of a skill that can be learned while incarcerated is braille production. There are currently more than 35 prison braille programs, in 27 states, providing much-needed educational materials for students who are blind and, at the same time, offering both male and female offenders the chance to become qualified braille transcribers (Lacewell, N., & Faris, H. J.). By learning a skill such as braille transcribing, offenders gain knowledge and...

References: Dutta, S. (2010, December 30). How to Fix America 's Broken Criminal Justice System. Christian Science Monitor. p. N.PAG. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
Lacewell, N., & Faris, H. J. (2010). Transforming Lives One Cell at a Time: One Disadvantaged Population Helps Another and Everyone Wins. Corrections Today, 72(4), 44. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
Prison. (2010). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
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