Prison Reformation Essay


By: Desarae Driggers

Bernie Sanders had recently made a statement for all of America to hear: “Overall, we need bold change in our criminal justice system. A good first step forward is to start treating prisoners as human beings, not profiting from their incarceration. Our emphasis must be on rehabilitation, not incarceration and longer prison sentences.” I personally agree with this statement because our criminal justice system has some severe problems with it, it’s used for punitive reasons rather than rehabilitative. Prisons in the United States are tearing apart lives and increasing the rates of mental illness in our country. In this essay, I will be discussing the effects that this system has on our criminals and my theory on how it can be improved.
First of all, instead of keeping our justice system as a punitive resource, it should be used to restore the delinquent’s morals and social skills. Each year, approximately 1,500 adolescents are being transferred into adult systems to serve their sentences. I believe that there is a separate juvenile system for a reason, to get the minor help before they go out into the world as an adult to commit crimes, the sooner you can get a child help, the better it is. 68% of prisoners end up getting physical and sexual abuse from their cell mates during the time that they stay here. This is not fair to the nonviolent criminals, therefore, violent criminals should be separated. 61% of offenders are admitted into this system because of drug possession or drug trafficking. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs and since then the use has declined by 82%. So I think if America looks at drug use as a public health problem then it will decrease the frequency of recidivism and drug offenders. I am not saying that drugs should be allowed, when someone gets caught with drugs it should be automatic mandatory rehabilitative treatment time.
In addition, I theorize that nonviolent criminals shouldn’t have to be lead to a life-sentence punishment because we live in a country of freedom. These felons should be able to eventually earn their freedom back. In 2010, The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reported that the average life-sentenced inmate is being denied drug treatment, educational opportunities, and even life-saving medical treatments. This is about 47% of people who were incarcerated for nonviolent drugs, property, and public order crimes. In my opinion, this should not be tolerated. It has already been proven that 80% of prisoners in solitary confinement have experienced hallucinations, hypersensitivity, paranoia, increased suicide risk, and post-traumatic stress disorder. An alternative solution to this issue would to put the felon in long-term treatment, having the mindset to allow the being room for improvement and transformation, not merely punishment.
Lastly, from any observations that you make, you can conclude that the rate of recidivism in our country continues to increase rapidly. This is due to the lack of help prisons offer the felons. Instead of helping the criminals, they place them into solitary confinement until it’s their time to discharge. However, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 85% of drug users return back to the drug life after they’ve been released from prisons. I think this is another result of not providing the person help. Some judges in court may suggest that the being attends drug counseling or rehab, but 70% of the addicts who attend eventually drop out because they are not being supervised. It has been proven that 74% of these prisoners have the ideal thought, “once I am a criminal, I am always a criminal. There is no taking this back because what is done has been done.”, because of this thought they just eventually give up and do what they want. If these fellows were able to earn their individual rights back through getting help then maybe it would encourage them to work hard.
In conclusion, we need to come together as a country to discuss the issues of our justice system and the ways it can be improved. We need to look at these prisoners as if they are going through a difficult battle, and we need to offer them all the help that they can get. We all have to remember that every person has the room for improvement and positive transformation. This is significant because the purpose of our justice system is to deliver justice for all people by helping them to stop offending while protecting the innocent. The benefits of improving this system would be protecting the country’s citizens and lowering the rate of recidivism.