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News Misconceptions About Prison Life

  1. Nov 28, 2003 #1
    "Most people who are in the prison system will get out, they will be somebody’s neighbor and they will have gained nothing from their time in prison except the knowledge that “it’s you or me” because that’s the way it is in our prisons. They have removed most of the educational programs from our prisons because the tax payers don’t want to throw away good money on worthless criminals. They have no counseling, nothing to help them change whatever it was that got them where they are in the first place. Is this what we really want?" "Misconceptions About Prison Life" By Jeanette Doil

    The Eighth Amendment of The Bill of Rights for the Constitution of the United States: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." The very way prisons are operated today is a clear violation of this amendment.

    Prison life today is the complete forfeiture of freedom for a certain period of time; sometimes the remaining days of one's life. Both violent and non-violent people are mixed together in the prison population which violates the Eighth Amendment because the potentiality for violence against non-violent offenders strongly exists. Furthermore, given the present conditions, those given life sentences without the possibility of parol would be better off if given the option of execution by the method of their choosing. But what about those with the chance of eventually leaving prison and returning to society?

    One of the things strongly lacking in prison today is personal discipline; self imposed discipline. This is the discipline that makes you try harder and work more intensely then you ever thought you could. Sadly, prisoners lack both the incentive and ability to develop this themselves. Consequently, discipline needs to come from outside themselves. The best source of external discipline comes from United States Marine Corps boot-camp seargants. Prisoners need to be treated the same as new recruits when they step off the bus into the prison yard for the first time. It needs to be made clear that until they are released, the "system" will not allow them to continue in their present state of disorder. Once the prisoner accepts their new found source of discipline, they may "graduate" to learning a trade or completing an education. Various forms of counselling must also be provided in order to keep them focused on their path to rehabilitation. The right of the prisoners to peaceably assemble must be forfeited in order to prevent the formation of groups detrimental to the process. This would also prevent the smuggling of drugs into the prison as the corrupt corrections officer would no longer have a "market". The problem with prisons today is that they only serve to foster a continuation of the human condition that leads to incarceration. With all this discussion and funding of homeland security, it would seem logical to start with America's prisons as a means of improving the safety and security of every United States citizen.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2003 #2


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    Excellent. I agree. Though we must beware of excessive brutality for brutality's sake.
  4. Nov 28, 2003 #3
    The 'boot camp' idea is a good one. As someone who has experienced Parris Island, I can tell you that it tends to work, although you have to have very strict controls. I would see every juvenile detention facility run in this manner, because that is the best shot we have at changing a person's path in life.
    In fact, I agree with pretty much any prison reform that stops treating incarceration as simply holding and punishment, and starts rehabilitating criminals. Since every criminal cannot be held indefinately, isn't it important to make sure that they can be reintegrated into society as productive citizens?
  5. Nov 29, 2003 #4
    Good luck finding a politition to support prison reform. For almost thirty years the debate has been limited to a question of "are you tough enough." Our polititions have been all too eager to do whatever it takes to keep from being seen as soft of crime. This has lead to longer punisments and loss of the means for a prisoner to re-educate themselves.
    Usually, the only people that are willing to work for prison reform are those who have found themselves involved with the system as a prisoner, or as a family member of a prisoner. Nobody wants to listen to the ex-cons and the families loose some of their zeal once the relative gets out.
    Every aspect of the prison system needs reform from housing the prisoners to training the guards. It's time to stop getting tougher and start getting smarter.
  6. Nov 29, 2003 #5


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    Great, but who is going to pay for such a productive prison system?
  7. Nov 29, 2003 #6
    Every time someone plans on 'getting tough', you can count on them having no f---ing clue what they are talking about.
  8. Nov 30, 2003 #7
    We can pay for a prison system that works toward rehabilitation, or we can continue to pay in terms of the crimes of recitivist criminals. I'd bet recitivism is far more expensive in the long run.
    Either way, we pay.
  9. Nov 30, 2003 #8
    Absolutely! It costs much less money to stop the problem on the first incarceration, than it does to house a repeat offender...not to mention the costs of the multiple arrests and convictions.
  10. Dec 2, 2003 #9
    Actually I read somewhere that boot camp-style juvenile detention centers are equal or worse than conventional juvenile detention centers when it comes to rehabilitation and likelyness to reoffend.

    It follows, in my opinion. I can't see how some loud mouth, overbearing, jackass with a stick up his ass yelling in my face is supposed to make me less likely to commit a crime.
  11. Dec 2, 2003 #10
    There are five times as many mentally ill in the US penal system than in hospitals. Los Angeles County Jail and Riker's Island in New York are the de facto largest mental institutions in the US.

    Without effective social services to challenge the revolving doors of jail and prisons, there will remain an underclass that knows little but stealing and assault, mixed in with unfortunate petty criminals. (A man in DC has been locked up for over a year for spitting on the sidewalk!)
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