Prison System and the Society

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Prison System and the Society

Prison System and the Society



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The criminal justice system in any society is anchored on a belief that prison will not only punish offenders, but correct them so that when they re-enter the society after serving their terms, they would have been reformed. Therefore, locking them away, and denying them certain rights and freedoms is thought to deter not only them, but also other members of the society from commission of crimes. On this score, prison is therefore beneficial to the society.

However, there is a growing mass of evidence to suggest that prison is failing to reform inmates and keep crime rates down. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (2006) reports that about 62 percent of all prison inmates who are released in the United States, are again rearrested within three years. Gaynes (2005) blames this situation on the fact that the society is in most cases ill prepared to welcome the released inmates through support structures such as job programmes and counseling services. They therefore have to face a hard life which may force them into crime to make ends meet. On the other hand, exposure to violent criminals coupled with the psychological trauma that comes with incarceration may end up hardening the criminals. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (2006), most of the nonviolent offenders will not be nonviolent by the time they reenter society. What this means is that the safety of the society which was to improve as a result of prison, is compromised the more.

It is therefore clear that the society cannot rely on prison walls alone to correct the inmates. The society should play an even greater role at reforming the inmates, so that at the end of their prison terms, they are able to quit crime. Gaynes (2005), is of the opinion that the society should provide the assistance prisoners need to fit back into the society. This support should be offered during and after incarceration. This assistance may involve visiting the inmates during their terms, offering counseling services, drug treatment and training in job skills. These kinds of services are sometimes difficult for the authorities to avail at the prison. This may perhaps call for the criminal justice system to be more aligned towards community based sanctions rather than incarcerations (Gaynes, 2005).The community will therefore play an active role in not only reforming, but also helping the criminals turn over a new leaf.


Gaynes, E. (2005). Reentry: Helping Former Prisoners Return to Communities. Baltimore: The

Annie E. Casey Foundation.

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. (2006).Custodial and Non-Custodial

Measures. Vienna: United Nations

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