Alternatives to Incarceration
Provision of sustainable security in the society should be a collaborative endeavor between the government and social institutions which form the community. The government has a legal authority to mitigate crime activities through the criminal justice system, a factor that leads to incarceration.
On the other hand, social institutions such as the family, church, and learning institutions play the ultimate role of instill reliable character and behaviors to members of the community as a tool for promoting social acceptable conduct in the society (Reisig, Cole, & Clear, 2008). According to psychologists, the development of character traits on the young generation is mainly based on the surrounding environment. This is because the young engage in copying and adopting the behaviors of other in the community.
Nevertheless, social institutions have failed in ensuring an environment that can promote reliable character among members. Such has been blamed for inhibiting the process of effectively fighting crime in the community.
The author seeks to give a discussion on the question; why should we expect the correctional system to be able to accomplish so much when so many other social institutions have failed? When family, school, and churches are unable to inculcate law-abiding behavior. Why should we be surprised if the correctional also system fails? Possible solutions to the problems affecting the effectiveness of American correctional system will also be given.
The American correctional system effectiveness
The American correctional system has been blamed for its failure in ensuring sustainable reforming of criminals to reflective compatible character and behavior in the society. According to its mandate, the correctional system is marked with the responsibility of incarcerating crime offenders as a mechanism for instilling behavioral change from crime activities.
Nevertheless, numerous research findings have evidently shown a high rate of recidivism into criminal behavior by criminals upon release from correctional facilities (Conis, & DeLisi, 2009). Indeed, such findings indicate that victims from correctional facilities are more likely to engage in more serious criminal activities than before their incarceration.
Numerous factors have been closely attributed with this failure of the American correctional system. First, the system is faced with the problem of addressing individual needs of criminals as a potential drive to committing crime in the society (Western, Weiman, & Pattillo, 2004). As an example, the criminal justice system of American has received for failing to appreciate the psychological requirements of drug related crime offenders as well as mentally impaired criminals.
According to psychological evidence, imposing punishment on drug abusers and mentally impaired victims serves no more than torture. This is because these individuals have their reasoning and judgmental capability compromised.
This has the implication that crime offenders who have mental or drug abuse history can only be effectively corrected by engaging them in resolving their psychological problems first. This has nevertheless, been a major failure in the American correctional system. True from available statistical evidence, drug related crime activities are the leading source of prison population in the American community (Conis, & DeLisi, 2009).
In fact, this statistics indicate that an estimated over 40 percent of prison population in US is comprised of convicts of drug related crimes. Despite this fact, the correctional system has invested limited resources in establishing rehabilitation rather than incarceration facilities.
Another factor which has been associated with the failure of the American correctional system is poor influence among inmates in the correctional facilities. The Federal Bureau of Prisons as the federal agency responsible for administering prisons has been quite efficient in appreciating the need to categorize prisoners depending on their crime.
Based on this reasoning, the agency currently operates five security levels of correctional facilities in the nation which accommodate victims depending on the level of security needed (Western, Weiman, & Pattillo, 2004). Such facilities range from low security prison camps with weak or no fenced perimeters to high secure prison marked with wall reinforced double-fenced perimeters and high prison guard to inmate ratio.
On the contrary, it is commonly asserted that conviction and sentencing of criminals remains the decision of the criminal law courts. Just to be appreciated here is the fact that court trails in the nation are based on the due process procedure clause of the constitution. On the other hand, this constitutional provision bases its decisions on facts presented and the strength of defense given by the defendant in the case (Western, Weiman, & Pattillo, 2004).
This has the implication that such decisions are subject to error. Indeed, available information has claimed of numerous incidences of unequal conviction for priority criminals. This is because these criminals have been through the system several time and effectively identified the numerous escape loopholes in the system.
Based on the above reasoning, the process of categorizing criminals in the correctional facilities based on court judgments remains a major setback to qualify security needs and mitigate poor influence among convicted crime offenders (Conis, & DeLisi, 2009). This is because the process leads to accommodating of various levels of criminals in the same, a factor which promotes crime behavioral influence to first time offenders. Such is the reason behind the claim that victims of imprisonment potentially engage in more serious crime upon release from prison.
Therefore, the failure of American correctional system can be closely attributed to lack of an efficient mechanism for identifying and group criminals depending on their crime gravity and required correction strategies.
Over the passed three decades, the America correctional system has witnessed a high rate of increase in the number of prisoners held in its correctional facilities. This has no doubt been the source for numerous social and political concerns on the problem of overcrowding in the prisons (Meares, 2007).
On the other side, overcrowding is to be blamed for increasing facility strain, thus leading to poor living conditions for inmates. According to psychological principles, character is build through persistent instilling of ideas in an individuals subconscious mind. This means that given long-term inhuman conditions imposed by prisoners, they are only bound top develop an attitude of less value for life and others in the society.
In addition, numerous research findings have identified a close link between prisoner and prison guard behavior based on correctional facility conditions. It is no doubt that correctional facilities are marked with sense of authority from the prison guards forcing inmates to feel powerless and depersonalized (Wilson, 1993). On the other side, pushed against the wall, human beings are bound to fight back.
This implies that the harsh condition imposed on prisoners in correctional facility is a potential cause for law defiance mentality among prisoners. Such attitudes are bound to be transfer to the community level by inmates upon their release, an element that negates their ability to respect law and order in the community.
Social institutions as failures in inculcating law-abiding behavior
Sustainable behavior among the young generation is based on the influence brought to them by underlying social institutions in the society. This is based on the fact that at birth a child is purely innocent, only to development attitude and character with time. It is due to this reason why most criminal behaviors in the community are blamed to poor family influence on the young members of the community (Reisig, Cole, & Clear, 2008).
Family violence in the society is one of the numerous reasons for the failure by parents in promoting law abiding behavior among children. This is because such practices leave parents with limited time to monitor and address behavioral issues of their children.