Corrections: Past and Present
Punishment in the form of prison sentences, form an integral part of the current United States justice system. The previous system within which the prisons were used to house individuals unable to pay fines, or awaiting trial, if it had been allowed to exist to date, would no doubt have led to a situation in which there was not only overcrowding, but also numerous injustices to those accused of minor crimes (Fellner, 2006). Housing individuals even for very small crimes would serve to perpetuate the labeling theory and serve as an injustice a huge majority. More so considering that concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, which play an integral role in contemporary society would be massively abused, more so if those awaiting trial were held in the same place as those who have been tried and found guilty (Barnes, 1921). The prison system also provides an opportunity through which rehabilitation, and rehabilitative services can easily be offered. Sticking to the old system would not only have brought about a situation in which the prison systems were easily open to undue abuse and easily distorted the main reason behind the concept of denying an individual, or one found to be guilty their rights to freedom. Conversely, the existence of the current systems of incarceration serve two aspects of justice that the old system as it was, definitely would not accomplish: the prison sentences act as deterrents to future criminals, as well as serve to remove the dangerous criminal elements from society, and preventing any further participation in crimes, by the individuals identified to have been culprits (Langan & Levin, 2002). The system as currently exists, also provides an opportunity for the correctional approaches and any rehabilitation engagements to be applied uniformly to the incarcerated individuals.
Barnes, H. (1921). The Historical Origin of the Prison System in America. Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 12(1), 35-60.
Fellner, J. (2006, November 30). U.S. Addiction to Incarceration Puts 2.3 Million in Prison. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/11/30/us addiction-incarceration-puts-23-million-prison
Langan, A., & Levin, D., (2002). Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Demond J. Lemieux
Demond raises valid arguments that the existence of prison sentences is the only sure way of ensuring justice. Indeed, although the prison sentences meted out to the criminals are usually in order to punish them for their wrongdoing, these sentences also usually serve as deterrents to any such future behavior. While it does follow the principle of retributive justice, it does fall in line with what the justice system mainly aims to accomplish, if due to anything; the simple fact that it removes the criminal elements from society preventing any further engagement in criminal activities as already stated above. Indeed Lemieux’s claim that some rehabilitative programs do not work is very valid, as a huge majority of such programs are hinged on the ability of the perpetrator to seize the initiative and genuinely want to change, a question that is more often than not unsuccessfully pursued.
Christine Morgan’s arguments are very succinct and aptly capture the importance of the prison system as it currently is. The current arrangement has served to eliminate the unnecessary use of excessive punishments such as the death penalty, and made punishment proportionate to crimes committed. Morgan also highlights the important role of deterrence that the system plays, not to mention the level of retribution it offers, especially to those who are affected by the crimes committed. She also seems to agree with the main concept of incapacitation, in the sense that prison terms as they currently exist, deny perpetrators the opportunity to commit further similar crimes, as would otherwise be possible in the past, following the payment of fines as would previously be required by law. I therefore, agree with a majority of the arguments posted by Christine Morgan.