Do We Really Need Prisons Essay
DO WE REALLY NEED PRISONS The simple meaning prison is a place for the confinement of persons in law detention, espicially people who are convicted of crimes according to The American Heritage of the English Language (2000). The history of prison almost as old as history itself. At first, prison were not used as a punishment but as a place where people who were sentenced to capital or corporal punishment were kept for a short period of time. But as the time passed, it turned into a legal punishment.
Today, imprisonment is the harhest punishmet a criminal is given except for death penalty and there are over nine million people in prison today. In todays world, imprisonmet is the most common punishment that is given criminals. Therefore, it has an important mission to achieve which is to keep society working regularly and to provide people with safer lifes. The main functions of prison in society can be divided into four. The first function of prison is retribution. The prison system aims to punish criminals and make them pay back for the harm they caused by locking them and limiting their freedom.
The second function of prison is incapatitating which means seperating criminals from society thus preventing them from further crime. By doing this it is aimed to maintain a safer society. Thirdly, the prison system is there to deter people from commiting crimes. Prison have to be a warning to society to show that there are consequences for law breakers. Last but not the least, prison aims to rehabiliate prisoners and make them a part of society. As can be seen in the previous paraghraph society gave prison system important missions which are retrebution, incapaticing, deterring and rehabilitation.
However prisons are not capable of achieving this missions; therefore, the prison system should be removed. The main reason why it is necessary to remove the prison system is that it is not working as it is planned to do and that it is not capaple of achieving missions which are given to it. Although, it is true that the prison system is effective on punishing criminals, it seriously lacks in maintaining other functions. Firstly, the prison system is aimed to protect society by blocking criminals from commiting further crime. However, seperating criminals from society is not enough to do this.
According to Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council (2005) , currently there are more than 2 million people in the USA are in prisons and only 3% percent of them will stay there lifelong. The rest 97% percent will stay there for a limited time. Then they will be released. Not only will they be free, they would also be more dangerous and violent because there is corruption in prisons which also provides enough reason to close all prisons. According to Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council (2005), 75% of prison inmates were seriously abused and only 10% of them received formal treatment.
Being in prison environment can make any person turn into a dangerous and violent man who is full of anger and hatred. As a result, after being released, criminals will return to society more dangerous and violent than ever. Therefore, imprisoning is only a short term solution for protecting society. On the contrary it has serious long term implications. The second function that the prison system lacks is deterence. Prisons were supposed to deter potential offenders from criminal activity, encouraging more constructive pursuits.
With the tools society has, it is hard to measure the effect of the prison system on deterring society. However, it is a fact that there is areason why punishments are getting longer and tougher in recent years in America. It is an effect of increasing crime rates. This increase shows that prisons are not enough to stop potential criminals. Thirdly, prisons are not capable of rehabilitation of criminals. The definition of rehabilitation is the restoration of someone to a useful place in society (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, n. d. ).
With the prisoning system it is aimed to fix criminals and make them a functioning part of society. However, it is proven that prisons are not capable of rehabilitation. After five years of research, Glasser revealed that almost 80% percent of criminals are not rehabiliated (1969, p. 8). This research shows that rehabilition in prison or rather lacking of it is a serious problem. According to Why cant we reform our criminals? Renew America (2005), “70% percent of all criminals are re-arrested within three years of their release from prison.
Infact, of the few programs that have shown any detectable positive effect on their participants, the best result was a mere 10% reduction in recidivism. ” (para. 3). It can be conculuded that the prison and the rehabiition systems of it are not useful. In addition to lack of rehabilition, prisoners have to face serious problems like abuse, bulliying, forced labors and so on. Therefore, they are not healing but getting worse. Another reason why prison system should be removed is that, the prison system is economically detrimental. The statistics shows that one year of ne criminal in prison costs $22. 000 in USA and the total cost of the prisons in USA is more than $32 billiona year (Fortunato, 2004, p. 7). This affects every citizen in the society, because the taxes they pay are spent for people who harmed them. Currently, USA government spends more money for the prison system than the education system. If prisons are removed, the money spent for them can be used for more useful tasks like education, health care, science and so on. It is a fact that in addition to wasting billions of money, prisons also waste human resources.
Currently an estimated 9 million people are imprisoned worlwide (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, n. d. ) . This means task force of 9 million peope is wasted. Instead doing something useful and working for sake of society, these people stay locked and do nothing. In addition to them anybody who has a job related to the prison system like cops, guardians, prison doctors and so on spend their energy for nothing. Some people may argue that prisons should not be removed because of its function of retribution.
According to them, victims of criminals deserve to see the people who harmed them behind the bars, punished. Hoewver, it is an invalid and emotional argument. It is true that it can be satisfacting to see criminals get what they deserved but it does not good to anyone, not to the criminals, not to the society and not to the victims. It does not fix criminals nor teach them to be a honest citizens. On the contrary, it makes them abused and damaged, thus more dangerous and harmful to society and to victims. Also it does not heal victim or does not give what they lost.
Another argument of the supporters of the prison system is that altough there are major flaws in the prison system; it should not be removed because it is the best system society has today. However, it is not true and there are more logical options than prison system. Accoding to Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council: Charting the Safe and Successful Return of Prisoners to the Community (2005) only 30% percent of the criminals are so dangerous that need to be extracted rom society. So, there is no point in putting the rest 70% percent to prisons.
Instead they can pay for the harm they did by working for sake of society. There is a system called as community service system in which criminals undertake rehabilitative programs and work in the community. Also, there are different punishments specific for a type crime. For example, recently in USA, drunk drivers are made to put ignition interlocks to their cars in order to prevent them from drunk driving. There are many different crimes because of this it is only logical to have different kind of punishments which are related to crime thus educative for criminals and useful for society.
For more dangerous criminals, there are always rehabilition centers in which criminals can receive psylogical and medical treatment in order to heal. To conclude, it is not logical to keep prison system since it is not working. The system does not function properly. While it was supposed to incapatitate criminals, deter potential offenders from commiting crime and rehabiliating criminals to make them part of the society, it only punishes and damages criminals and makes them more dangerous to society.
Also the prison system is an expensive system and it requires too much human resources. Therefore, the goverment should remove the prison system and replace it with systems which are ecomonic and more focused on rehabilition of criminals instead of punishing them. References Evans, P. & H. (2005, March 12). Why can’t we reform our criminals? Renew America. Retrieved April 10, 2012 from http://www. renewamerica. us/columns/evans/050312. Glas er, D. (1969). The Effectiveness of a Prison and Parole System.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Retrieved April 10,2012, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=454758. Prison. (n. d. ). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Prison Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council: Charting the Safe and Successful Return of Prisoners to the Community. Council of State Governments. Reentry Policy Council. New York: Council of State Governments. January 2005. The American Heritage of the English Language. (2000). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.