Punishment vs. Rehabilitation within the criminal justice system

Topics: Prison, Crime, Criminal law Pages: 8 (2985 words) Published: April 13, 2014
I. Why did you pick this topic?
If you were bullied in school as a child, then the "best years" of your life may have felt more like an endless, living nightmare. There is no shortage of social predators trying to boost their self-esteem or status at other people's expense. Now imagine a school of hard knocks where the concentration of bullies is much higher than their victims. That's what life may be like for many a convict serving time in prison. How impossible is it to not become hardened and detached under the constant threat of victimization? It's hard to imagine that reform is part of that equation when one's very life is at stake. Yet that is one of the impressions that we on the outside have of why criminals are in prisons: so that they will get better. But do they? In effort to make society appear to function properly, we have to close our eyes to many contradictions. Ironically, many are found within the justice systems. We have all witnessed lawyers so hungry for money and advancement that they will protect criminals from incarceration at the cost of the next innocent victim. Another area of justice to which our eyes are closed are the prisons where convicted criminals do their reparation. Some main reasons why criminals are sent to prison are:

To separate a bully from his next victim — whether it be a robber from the jewelry store, a rapist from women, or a drug dealer from his addicted customers, etc. As punishment and revenge for the crimes a bully has already committed against his victims. To reform or correct the behavior and reintegrate a bully back into our respectable society. The first reason — to separate a criminal from his/her next victim — is the proper use of social seperation for keeping the public safe from further harm. The second, using imprisonment as a form of punishment and revenge is a misguided use of justice, because revenge turns the punisher into the bully possibly even the murderer, if a death sentence is carried out. So basically we have a load of people within a free society acting out violently with the same emotions as those which are causing our prisons to fill up with offenders. As you can see, the justice system is hypocritical. My greatest concern, is how can incarcerating a criminal rehabilitate them; that being locked in a cage surrounded by other criminals can somehow lead one to become a better person. Imagine yourself trapped twenty four hours a day for a span of two to twenty years in a prep school populated only by those who have beaten, robbed, stolen, murdered or raped others out of rage, hatred and some other psychological imbalance. To add insult to injury, the world outside fears and hates you, maybe even wants to kill you. You have to work your way through the system by serving time so that you can eventually graduate to being released among those who fear and hate you because you are not an ex-con. Are prisons truly designed for rehabilitating criminals? How can a tense, selfish, survival-based atmosphere promote a more empathetic and emotionally balanced human? Given the constant negative reinforcement, it is almost impossible. In fact prisons so more by helping educate beginners in crime to become even better criminals. That's a poor investment for the future of our community. A huge shift must take place if the Department of Corrections actually intends to correct the troubled one. We must find methods and programs which not only heal the wounds and troubled minds, but which helps them understand that crime begins with an attitude that we take toward others. II. How has literature viewed this issue?

Most people may think of prisons as nothing more than facilities where criminals are incarcerated and deprived of their freedoms while serving a sentence that has been assigned as punishment for an illegal act they committed. While this is true, the concept of imprisonment is also intended to have a rehabilitative effect on inmates. The basic idea of...

Cited: Cadigan, Brian. "Correcting Our Flawed Criminal Justice System, One Private Prison at a Time." The
Bottom Line UCSB. N.p., 11 May 2011. Web. 09 May 2013.
Dutta, Sunil. "How to Fix America 's Broken Criminal Justice System." The Christian Science Monitor. The
Christian Science Monitor, 30 Dec. 2010. Web. 07 May 2013.
Vedantam, Shankar. "When Crime Pays: Prison Can Teach Some To Be Better Criminals." NPR. NPR, 01
Feb. 2013. Web. 07 May 2013.
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