It is a proven fact that once someone from a family is imprisoned, family connections and relations become weaker. This means that every time someone is imprisoned, their family will not necessarily disperse, but grow apart. Prison systems in the United States should be reformed because medical care is lacking, guards are not getting the proper training, and prison programs (for drug rehabilitation, GED/college, and reintegration) are not available or need funding.
Prison reform was started in the early 1840’s by a woman named Dorothea Dix. Dix started this to improve conditions of the mentally ill. This mostly affected the prisoners with mental illnesses and defects. One of the first prison reform groups actually started inside of a prison. An important court case involving prison reform is Hudson v. Palmer. This case was about being harassed and violated with unnecessary shakedowns. To fix the problems, prison reform has reduced recidivism rates by implementing programs for the inmates and the penal system has slowly become more effective. We are still dealing with this problem today due to guards being corrupt and not going by the book, prisons are not being monitored as well as we’d like.
There are a few programs available to prisons that are very beneficial. “To prepare offenders for return to their communities and reduce recidivism, inmates are provided opportunities while incarcerated to address health needs and develop life and work skills. Correctional facilities may offer inmates substance abuse and mental health treatment, and some institutions offer educational classes such as literacy classes, English as a Second Language, parenting classes, wellness education, adult continuing education, and library services.” Prisoners are being released after long periods of time and are not being correctly reintroduced into society, these programs will successfully help inmates reintegrate into society. “In most cases, inmates who do not have a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate must participate in the literacy program for a minimum of 240 hours or until they obtain the GED. Non-English-speaking inmates must take English as a Second Language.” In some cases, prisoners might not be up to par educationally due to maybe a bad upbringing so programs are provided to help them get their GED’s and maybe study another language. This matters because society would want inmates to change so in order to help them do so, programs would help them be more of an abiding citizen. This might reduce the incarceration rate of many families in the United States.
Medical attention in our prisons today are lacking because inmates are not receiving the treatment necessary to help improve their health. In an article based on medical aid in prisons, it states that “Each day, men, women, and children behind bars suffer needlessly from lack of access to adequate medical and mental health care.” Although medical aid is funded, it is not really provided to the ones who need it the most. People are brought in entitled to it yet are not even thought about when incarcerated. “For inmates with chronic or acute medical conditions, the Bureau operates several medical referral centers providing advanced care.” Only the people in dire need get the medical attention that they need, other people they do not take so seriously. This matters because although other inmates that are not in critical condition might not be in such dire need, they can still be in pain and should be cared for no matter what the circumstances. Neglecting inmates would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Recidivism is when an ex criminal is reconvicted of further criminal offense. ”More than 65 percent of those released from California’s prison system return within three years”. It is proven that recidivism rates are lowered when attending programs that reintegrate an inmate into society. “According to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) about 68 percent of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison.” Without these programs being implemented, recidivism rates will not decrease and would probably increase. Inmates could potentially be imprisoned for a long period of time and with all that time isolated from others, other than when they’re fed, they could possibly lose their sense of communicating. With programs regarding reintegration, people will eventually not need to be trained outside of the prison system but rather inside the prison system.
Management in prisons is enforced by prison guards and they are not doing such a good job at what they are hired to do. “In North Carolina, newly hired prison officers usually get just one week of orientation before they’re put to work.” A big problem in prisons is poor training. Guards are trained to a minimum before actually working inside of a prison. When working inside those prisons with minimal training, the average person would expect problems. Guards are often persuaded to be on the prisoners side because their low sense of morality. Getting hired to become a prison guard is so easy now that even gang affiliated citizens are getting hired and sometimes even supplying inmates with drugs and weaponry. “Despite millions of taxpayers’ dollars spent in the past year to increase safety in prisons and lessen contraband, bad prison guards — some corrupt, some indifferent, some sympathetic to gangs or in gangs themselves — are working to ensure the efforts fall flat, say more than 60 former and current inmates interviewed by The State Media Co. and their advocates.” The employers of these prison guards are obviously not taking their job seriously because they are not running backgrounds on who they are hiring and that’s causing more and more corrupt prison guards to get hired. This is important to prisons because if inmates are getting their weapons from corrupt guards, that means they are responsible for some of the non-corrupt guards death for actually doing what was right and having morals. In the future, if employers start acting now, there would be way less corruptivity in prison systems and less deaths on the prisons guards because then there would be no way of getting weapons unless they take advantage of the prisons safety hazards.
Another thing in need of reform is the cash bail system. People struggle to make bail because they are not as wealthy as the next person. “In the United States, poor defendants often remain in jail because they cannot afford to pay the cash bail, while wealthier defendants go free because they have cash on hand to pay their bail. Because this system is so unfair, some states have already taken steps to eliminate it.” The cash bail system is so flawed that some states have removed it entirely. A lot of the time, real criminals are the ones with the wealth and often make bail but the ones that are falsely incriminated are poor and can not make bail. It is a very unfair system. “Originally, bail was supposed to make sure people return to court to face charges against them. But instead, the money bail system has morphed into widespread wealth-based incarceration.” This is a prime example of how flawed the bail system is. The poor and people of color are usually the targets for who to frame because those are the people who are usually not able to make bail. This is important because pretty soon, criminals are going to be the ones with money and will never be punished for their crimes unless the courts are willing to reform the bail system.
Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing punishment that is considered unacceptable due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person subjected to it. “When a man named Almighty Supreme Born Allah was held at a Connecticut prison in advance of his trial on drug charges, officials there locked him in solitary confinement and forced him to wear leg irons even as he showered.” In this situation, he was not supposed to be in solitary confinement due to him being a pretrial detainee. They violated his constitutional rights without hesitation and were not really punished for it for using the excuse called “qualified immunity”. “According to evidence and testimony at a federal civil rights trial, far worse things were happening at the prison than inmates strolling around during a lockdown: A mentally ill man on suicide watch hanged himself, gang members were allowed to beat other prisoners, and those whose cries for medical attention were ignored resorted to setting fires in their cells.” Despite inmates not getting the treatment they are entitled to, they are not getting treated by guards and other inmates correctly either. Guards often let inmates bully other inmates for the fun of it. A usual occurrence that happens between inmates is “gassing”. “Gassing” is when one inmate throws their feces at another inmate. This mostly happens when guards let it happen because it usually is not possible without the help of a guard. This is important because making this an often occurrence can maybe lead to the death of an inmate if taken too far. In the long run, prisoner abuse, if reformed, will help taxpayers save money because cases regarding prison abuse are usually won by the inmate and they win compensation or a good settlement.
Although a lot of people might believe drugs are the big issue in the crime region, they are getting the wrong idea. People need to focus on the violent crimes because that is what makes up over half of the prison population. Criminals convicted of a non-drug related crime are getting less harsh punishments because that is not their priority. Most people that are being arrested are being arrested for drug related crimes that are not serious. They are sentenced and placed in prisons and prisons get too crowded due to unnecessary convictions. Instead of letting the real criminals go because of overcrowding, release the ones that are there for a crime that should not be worried about such as possession of a drug.
In conclusion, prison is in need of serious reform because the way the system works is outdated and lacking in morality and prisoners do not deserve the way inmates, guards, and doctors treat them.