Looman and Carl (2015) argue that the rate of prisoners to the population is 700 prisoners for every 100,000 people in the United States. This is quite a high figure, and it implies that the cost of prisons and inmate housing is a heavy burden to the governments. On the other hand, the cost of running a prison ranges from a few hundred million dollars to tens of billions of dollars, where these figures are dependent on the size and designation of the incarceration facility, the number of inmates as well as that of inmates. At the same time, prisons have resort to methods of creating revenue and are identified as the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Programs (PIECP). They are a system through which qualified inmates are accorded training and jobs. While the jobs offer a mode of income to the prisoners, the prisons, on the other hand, receive revenue from the products created by the inmates. PIECP has created approximately a hundred dollars for each institution that has the program, with the funds being used to care for inmates.
Since the 1930s, there has been considerable opposition to the idea of inmates working to generate profits. In the same vein, the American Federation for labor has often been at the forefront, and even protested against the programs in 1934. The opponents contend that since organizations were paying inmates lower wages, free individuals were more likely not going to find gainful employment. This opposition resulted in the establishment of the UNICOR by the government with the aim of rehabilitating, inmates through training them for jobs. However, while UNICOR’s creation sought to address the cry by the AFL in the 1930s the opposition against the entire UNICOR program is still high, where it is believed that the government-owned corporation is undermining efforts towards the reduction of unemployment. On the other hand, allegations are rife that the program is creating an environment for slavery within the prison populations, this is as a result to the low wages these prisoners receive in comparison to doing the same job in the free world, which equates it to slavery (Bowman & Bowman, 2014).
Supporters of the Prison industry programs hold the idea that prisons and the prison system are an avenue for positive life changes. For instance, they state that it helps reduce recidivism since it offers an inmate a definite purpose to live. Additionally, they argue that prison industry programs, tend to build the character attributes of prisoners, increasing their drive and determination to do something positive. These two attributes drive and determination enable the development of a sense of purpose within society. As such, an inmate with a defined purpose and goal in life is more likely to be engaged in constructive activity upon release; hence their chances of recidivism are low. The proponents of these programs further argue that the programs tend to reduce recidivism due to the direct improvement of employees self-esteem. Accordingly, increased self-esteem and self-confidence results in heightened self-worth which in turn eliminates the desire of a criminal to reengage in destructive behavior or criminal activity once they are left to join the society. It also helps with the process of reentry (Hopper, 2015).
The programs that should be supported include, educational, recreational, industry and medical care. Rehabilitation of inmates, as well as the reduction of recidivism upon release, depends on the nature of the prisons. This necessitates the need to have Education programs. This is important since a significant percentage of the inmates do not have a basic degree or high school diploma, which makes their successful reentry into the society a farfetched dream. Such individuals lack basic skills, which means that they are not likely to engage in productive activity upon release. As such, due to its place in the criminal justice system, prisons must, therefore, incorporate education programs that shape such inmates. The Industry programs are also a necessity since they help prisoners earn, while at the same time learn skills which they may trade for wages upon release. In the same vein, recreational programs also support the inmates around the pressure of being in incarceration. Excessive has been proved to lower stress, and may equally see an individual sharpen a sporting skill which in turn may help them make a living in the outside society. Finally, medical care programs are necessary since each is entitled to proper health.
The permanent or temporary release of an inmate before the expiry of their sentence, usually on the grounds of good behavior, is known as parole. Parole officers are in charge of observing whether or not the offender is adhering to the set parole regulations. The offenders may be forced to serve the remaining part of their sentence in prison if they fail to stick to the parole rules.
The debate on the abolishment of parole began as early as the 1930s. The groups against parole argued that parole was carried out without putting the safety of the general law abiding population into consideration. In their defense, authorities in the criminal justice system defended parole citing that it helps in the management of prisons, gives offenders an opportunity to make amends in their behavioral patterns and the fact that parole supervision is way cheaper than housing convicts.
Currently, the issue of the abolishment of parole is still under hot debate. The debates are happening with the liberals arguing that the offenders deserve a second chance in the society while the conservatives believe that offenders ought to complete their sentences in prison.
There are arguments that mandatory releases promote impartiality in sentencing while having a general effect of crime reduction. The cases are based on the belief that fixed punishments as a consequence may discourage individuals from indulging criminal activities hence reduced crime. The groups that support mandatory release also believe that it ensures a lack of bias in the process of carrying out the administration of punishments that are behavior altering (Marble, 2018).
Those in support of discretionary release argue that lower recidivism rates are recorded after discretionary releases. Studies have proven that there are generally fewer incidents of going back to crime among individuals offered discretionary releases when compared to individuals released under mandatory release guidelines. Supporters of discretionary release also argue that it motivates inmates to carry themselves in a manner that shows desire or worth of reintegration into the society. Inmates are most likely to conform to good behavior when they hope for an early release.
One of the most critical functions of correctional facilities is having control over how inmates conduct themselves or act. Bars, walls and gates are physical methods of controlling inmate conduct. Parole can also be used as an incentive that will have control or influence on the behavior of inmates. This is because before paroles are granted, a thorough assessment of an inmate’s history is usually done. The parole board carries out an evaluation of the inmate’s adherence to the set rules and regulation during a parole hearing. The parole board also considers the inmate’s active and successful participation in the programs for rehabilitation in prison (Gibbons & Rosecrance, 2005). These determining factors considered before granting parole may influence or motivate inmates to act right since they would
If I were the director of the paroling agency in my state and there is the need to de-crowd prisons and have a lighter prison budget, I would recommend that the legislators consider discretionary releases. These early releases are going to reduce the overpopulation in prisons. Studies have also proven that discretionary releases result in lower rates of recidivism which in turn reduces the number of crimes hence a reduction in prison population and the cost of prison management. However, there ought to be clear guidelines in the granting of discretionary releases. All inmates are eligible but more strict requirements ought to be imposed on inmates convicted of violent crimes.
The parole agency has to be stern but remains reasonable if an individual commits technical violations while on parole. Proper assessments of the nature and severity of the breach have to be made before deciding on a consequence that could be a total revocation of the probation or more strict parole supervision.
Bound V Smith
This Supreme Court Case presents several essential points towards the issue of providing law libraries to inmates. Firstly it is important to note that the court held that it was necessary that inmates be accorded a channel through which they would prepare for court cases, by increasing their legal knowledge either through legal counselor libraries. Failure to do so would be infringing on the inmate’s fundamental rights towards receiving justice (Lehmann, 2014).
The Positive impact of this case was that it increases the inmate’s knowledge on the case at hand, allowing them to prepare for the court sufficiently. At the same time, it helps improve their faith in the criminal justice system given that they have an idea of the nature of their crimes and why it is charged and punished as so. Most importantly, however, a significant number of inmates are wrongfully tried or sentenced, or they may believe so. As such a law library within the confines of the prison system helps improve their chances of ever getting justice (Sambo, Usman, & Rabiu, 2017; Lehmann, 2014).
On the other hand, however, the creation of a channel through which inmates can increase their knowledge on the criminal justice process has seen an increase in court cases, as inmates who feel that they were wrongfully tried file for a retrial. This overburdens the court system which is continuously packed with backlogged court cases. Additionally, some attorneys and lawyers may give false hope to the inmates that they may get a reprieve in the justice system, further wasting the inmates and courts resources.
Bowman, S., & Bowman, S. W. (2014). Color behind Bars: Racism in the U.S. Prison System.
Gibbons, S. G., & Rosecrance, J. D. (2005). Probation, parole, and community corrections in the
United States. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
Hopper, S. (2015). From Prison to Purpose: A Journey to Answering Life’s Greatest Question.
Woodale, IL: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.
Lehmann, V. (2014). Challenges and Accomplishments in U.S. Prison Libraries. Library Trends,
Looman, M. D., & Carl, J. D. (2015). A country called prison: Mass incarceration and the
making of a new nation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Marble, D. (2018). The Impact of Discretionary Release on Offender Recidivism using Survival
Analysis. Corrections: Policy, Practice, and Research, 3(1), 1-14.
Sambo, A. S., Usman, S., & Rabiu, N. (2017). Prisoners and Their Information Needs Prison
Libraries Overview. Nebraska: University of Nebraska – Lincoln.