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Prisons (or correctional facilities) are systems for crime control. Prisons together with the police and court system form an indispensable part of the criminal justice system of any nation. Although sentencing and penal systems vary across countries, the fundamental purpose of sentencing is to prevent criminal behavior by ensuring citizens respect the law (McKay-Panos, 2016). Sentencing aims at contributing to a just, peaceful, and safe society. Offenders are often sent to prison due to specific national purposes and principle guideline offered by the constitution (Looman & Carl, 2015). Sometimes the goals of a case can have an adverse effect, and as such, the philosophies of sentencing provided to a judge are used to determine the best wat to achieve the purpose of disposition.[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
In recent years, prisons and court systems have been the center of public focus. Recent studies have shown that most countries use the prison system fraudulently. Mona Lynch, a social scientist and professor, is cited saying that prosecutors used the law punitively to form a targeted warfare against minorities (Rodriguez, 2016, para. 2). Trends indicate that the public disapproves of the prison system. Most people feel that prison systems do not ultimately serve to rehabilitate people. Similarly, there are contentious debates on the effectiveness of in creating a just, peaceful, and safe society (Rodriguez, 2016). [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
The impact of sentencing can be discussed with regards to factors like prison population and a country’s outlook on its justice system. Lynch (2016) asserts that countries need to refrain from over-reliance on incarceration and look at other correctional programs, mostly for youths.
Are Prisons Effective?
A prison is a facility where the state authority forcibly confines inmates as a form of punishment (Welch, 2013). Prisons are as a result of criminal justice systems. The earliest records of the penitentiary date back to the 3rd millennia BC (Welch, 2013). Major ancient civilizations used the concept of prisons as a way to detain incarcerated people. In those ages, prisons would act as detentions for offenders or presumed offenders until sentencing to death or life of slavery (Welch, 2013). Prisons have morphed into correctional facilities working with the concept of rehabilitating and reforming criminals. Prisons are used to hold convicted or suspected offenders, but on rare occasions, they are used as political correctness tools for detaining political prisoners and enemies of the state.
Canada has two types of prisons: the federal level used for holding inmates serving more than two years, and the provincial/territorial prison for holding individuals serving two years or less (Goff, 1997). Canada has a low incarceration rate compared to other industrialized nations. Canada holds 116 per 100,000 people compared to U.S. 702 per 100,000 (Griffiths, 2014). Canada’s criminal system is responsible for ensuring the safety of prisoners, which explains why the country has invested highly in correctional facilities that seek to improve the life of offenders (Griffiths, 2014). Today, Canada has approximately 215 facilities ranging from federal to provincial prisons (Goff, 1997). Trevethan and Rastin (2004) report that most incarcerated people in the Canadian prison system are black or other minorities who are in most cases drug addicts. Additionally, the majority of the inmates are men, and they sometimes undergo psychological breakdowns (Trevethan & Rastin, 2004). The Canadian criminal system considers factors such as the severity of an offense or the level of danger to the society as the determinants for a sentence (Griffiths, 2014). Although the criminal justice system means well in its purpose to reform offenders, there is no clear answer on its effectiveness[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
According to the Canadian criminal code, a sentence must be proportional to the gravity of the crime and the preconditions under which the offense was committed (Correctional Service of Canada, 2016). Also, the penalty must be least restrictive to achieve the purpose of rehabilitating and reintegrating the individual. Sentencing should promote a sense of responsibility in the inmate as well as allowing the prisoner to acknowledge that they have made a mistake and are willing to change for the better. Prison offers one a chance to be monitored and mentored for them to change to law abiding citizens. Similarly, punishment helps influence the character of an offender (Duguid, 2000). Sociologists argue that the courses offered in prisons have a positive effect towards the thinking of a criminal. In Canada, these courses mostly constitute skill development and basic adult education. Sometimes, inmates have tutors talk to them about religion and family life (Griffiths, 2014). [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Theories of deterrence claim that sentencing might deter other people from committing the same crime. Critics, however, point out that individuals who hurt others might also do so inside prison walls. Deterrence, however, works in societies since most persons who see the harsh penalties seek to live a more peaceful life (Ashworth, 2010).
According to Ashworth (2010), theories of retribution work on the concept that criminals will achieve a proper balance if the punishment causes a high level of misery. In this case, retribution can instill fear, and this reduces crime. Although there are no accurate numbers to support the claim, there is an agreement that treatment approaches in the prison system have proven useful (Ashworth, 2010). Community-based programs have dramatically led to few criminal activities in Canada, thus reducing re-imprisonment. Additionally, restorative justice has been central to ensuring that inmates are back to their mental health by the time they leave the system (Ashworth, 2010).
Incarceration has adverse effects on individuals and their communities. The ineffectiveness of prisons in preventing crime and the socio-economic effects on societies in countries such as Netherlands, New Zealand, and Germany have led to policy changes that can be felt by other nations (Ashworth, 2010). As Griffiths (2014) further confirms, incarceration is not an enough strategy; however, arrest and punishment can be deterrent. Most inmates hail from minority communities and broken families, implying that some of the prisoners become comfortable in prisons. For small time offenders, extended periods in prisons have proven to be risky since they are exposed to high-risk offenders who then teach them how to commit other crimes (Griffiths, 2014). Some Canadian prisons do not fully carry out their provisions, thus the purpose of sentencing is not fully utilized (Looman & Carl, 2015). Another cause for alarm on the prison system and its effectiveness is the prevalence of prison suicide. Looman and Carl (2015) add that many imprisoned white males commit suicide, a case attributed to rampant prison violence. Furthermore, the rising costs of maintaining correctional facilities is an increasingly worrying trend. A research by QMI Agency and Thibault (2014) indicates that as of 2013/2014, the cost of housing an inmate reached an all high of $2.7 billion. From the figure, it is apparent that these institutions struggle to hold and care for the incarcerated.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
As the prison population grows, the services and the infrastructure required also expand. The prison industry involves the private sector that benefits directly from the jail system. The results has seen prisons morph from criminal justice institutions to institutions that offer cheap labor. As such, big corporations have decided to target the marginalized communities for petty crimes to ensure that they stay in business. From corrupt free point of view, imprisonment would work to reduce crime and consequently instill peace. Although the ineffectiveness of prisons is evident, it is imperative for the justice systems to seek alternatives to sentencing. Eliminating prison systems and replacing them with humane and efficient systems can prove helpful.
Ashworth, A. (2010). Sentencing and criminal justice (5th ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Correctional Service of Canada. (2016). Serving time.
Duguid, S. (2000). Can prisons work? The prisoner as object and subject in modern corrections. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.
Goff, C. H. (1997). Criminal justice in Canada: An introduction. Scarborough, ON: ITP Nelson.
Griffiths, C. T. (2014). Canadian criminal justice: A primer (5th ed.). Scarborough, ON: Nelson Education Limited.
Looman, M. D., & Carl, J. D. (2015). A country called prison: Mass incarceration and the making of a new nation. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Lynch, M. P. (2016). Hard bargains: The coercive power of drug laws in federal court. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
McKay-Panos, L. (2016, January 5). Prisoners and work. LawNow.
Rodriguez, I. (2016, November 16). ‘Targeted’ injustice: Why prosecuting the war on drugs needs serious reform.
Thibault, E. (2014, March 18). Federal inmate cost soars to $117Gs each per year. Edmonton Sun.
Trevethan, S., & Rastin, C. J. (2004). A profile of visible minority offenders in the federal Canadian correctional system. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.
Welch, M. (2013). Corrections: A critical approach (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.