Prison Study

This is my first post for the semester. I hope we can cultivate at least a bit of positive social chatter about the topics that emerge. But first, a couple of logistics:

Please know that I will delete any posts that disparage another individual’s comments.  It’s okay to disagree with another’s post, but we must all respect one another in our disagreements. Thanks.

Check out this ARTICLE published back in 2014, which basically summarizes a lot of the material we’ll be covering this semester. There’s a great deal in the small piece to consider. What stands out most to you and why?

20 responses to “Prison Study”

  1. Paxton Bergin says:

    In my opinion we as a society should offer treatment courts more frequently to nonviolent offenders. I am a firm believer that punishing someone without explaining what they did wrong AND without giving them alternative options to fix their actions just generates more problems. For example if you punish a child and put them in timeout for something they did and refuse to try and correct the problem when they get out of time out they will continue to repeat the same behavior that landed them in time out. We need to take the child aside and explain to them “hey you cant do ____ because it hurts other people, instead of continuing to do that let us try to do _(something else)_.” The same same goes for people who are incarcerated. We have to give them opportunities to correct their actions. By giving adults the same chance it allows them to get the treatment they need, but also rather than being locked up they can go see their families, which may help to prevent future criminals ( their kids). This could possibly prevent nonviolent offenders children from being incarcerated because they are able to be at home and be a parental figure to discipline their kids and teach them using their own mistakes as examples.

  2. Sydney Hanick says:

    Some of the things that stuck out to me in this article are when the author touched on how many children have fathers in prison. Growing up without a father figure can taint a child’s economic, social, behavioral, and mental growth. Now taking into consideration that 1.2 million children have incarcerated fathers can ruin a society all in itself. The second thing that struck me was that this country has become so numb to putting people in prison that it has become unclear to tell the difference between maliciously criminal and mentally ill. Many mentally ill people struggle so bad that they self medicate using illegal drugs or excessive alcohol. The equation of a mentally ill person and any substance that changes the chemical balance in the brain is a recipe for disaster. We need to take the money normally used to prison these non malicious human beings, and put it towards rehabiliating efforts.

  3. Michael Brody says:

    What stands out most to me is the finding in the National Research Council’s report. The report’s findings piggyback on similar findings/questions that other scholars have posited: to what extent does imprisonment reduce or deter crime, if at all?
    I find it hard to believe that our country continues to place such an emphasis on incarceration, especially for nonviolent offenses.
    On the flip side, taking into account politics, the private sector along with people’s lax, customary view on imprisonment–it becomes easier to understand why the U.S. has a prison population of 2.2M.

  4. Katie Bucher says:

    The part of the article that stood out to me was the truth that our prison system sets our prisoners up for failure within the prison walls and upon release. Unfortunately, prisoners only have each other as company. This creates more of a risk for crime after release because ideas, lifestyles, stories, and contacts are passed on to each other. This makes it nearly impossible to live a normal life after release. It automatically sets prisoners up for failure because they are not learning how to live a normal life. Their lives are repetitive, boring, and mundane. They are not learning to better themselves and are not taught the skills to become a better person and learn from their mistakes. There is not rehabilitation offered to the people who need it most. Those who have mental illnesses or addictions are not treated properly and are not given the opportunity to work through their troubles. We continue to have our prison population grow without looking for different alternatives that could actually help with re-offending, reducing crime, and rehabilitation.

  5. Alexandra Heather-Jaeger says:

    What stuck out to me the most was the report from the National Research Council stating that because of highly populated prisons the crime rate was lower is actually a false comparison according to research. You would think that it would be a easy comparison for those two to be a cause and effect situation. If prisons were over populated and crime rates were down it would make you think that all of those who committed the crimes would be arrested making crime rates go down. Another thing that stuck out to me is the fact that as a country we are so stubborn in our ways to keep people incarcerated that we are over filling our prisons when there are people in there that are old, ill, and have committed non-violent crimes that could be released and put back into rehabilitation programs to go back into society. But we treat prisons as a business opportunity by creating for profit prisons so that people can make money while others are in jail not being productive members of society.

  6. Jessica Kaemerer says:

    Like some others have stated already, what sticks out to me is how criminals are being set up for failure as soon as they commit a crime. I understand they broke the law and they deserve some sort of punishment but prisoners are being let out into the society after their sentence is served and they have a very difficult time getting back on their feet. Most of the time they have no place to go and no source if income which more than likely will steer them towards a life of crime again. Also, prisons are extremely overcrowded with some people serving long sentences even for non violent crimes. Our criminal justice system needs to take a step back and reevaluate who deserves lengthy prison sentences and who needs to be put in a rehabilitation facility.

  7. Seth Daellenbach says:

    Like some of the others have said above, throwing someone in prison and expecting them to change there behavior is straight idiotic. The last paragraph of this article really stuck out to me and I really hope we start to make these changes. Recidivism is a major problem in the United States that must be fixed. I am a strong believer when it comes to rehabilitation and offering services and education to people who just want a second chance at life. Obviously, some people refuse to obey the law no matter what, but there are many good people who are locked up when they shouldn’t be, and in many cases could be a productive member of society if they just receive the tools that weren’t necessary available to them earlier in life.

  8. Kelsey Schoenherr says:

    What surprised me most, was the listed statistics – 2.2 million people imprisoned in the U.S. That is just absolutely ridiculous to me. It really tells you something about our society and the way we are running our country – like Alexandra stated, the U.S is stubborn!
    I don’t understand why there is such a strong influence on incarceration when it’s clearly not deterring people from committing crimes. Like others have mentioned, there needs to be a program that helps prisoners transition back into society, and there also needs to be a better way of making sure people who have committed non violent crimes aren’t being locking in prison right away.

  9. Kasey Miller says:

    What stood out most to me were the statistics. The numbers really represented how big of a problem we have in America. The Raegan era was the point in time where they presented the “tough on crime” objective, and ever sense then the prison population is sky-rocketing. 2.2 million Americans behind bars is unfathomable, yet that’s where we are standing. We are incarcerating so many individuals for such a long time due to mandatory minimums. So in that sense we have a large number of non-violent offenders who are spending years in prison, if not their lives. In some cases they were probably convicted of a small misdemeanor drug charge, but sense it was their 3rd strike the judge has to give him the mandatory minimum that is in place. If we release the mandatory minimums for these drug charges and leave it up to the judge’s discretion, I do believe we will have less non-violent offenders beyond bars. And with taking away these mandatory minimums and having these individuals not incarcerated for so long, then in the long run it saves us money. Taxpayers no longer have to pay that $30,000 a year for them to sit in prison for the misdemeanor crime that they may have been convicted of.

  10. Elizabeth Jackson says:

    If we looked at the financial portion of this article, we could bring up the point that our tax dollars are being used for all of this. It costs $30,000 an individual per year to be housed in prison. This money could easily be flip-flopped into government programming for incarcerated individuals to transition into society without the prison time. The amount of money that could be re-purposed would be considerable to encourage this in all prisons. Our incarceration rate is highest in the world, and some of these individuals have families to help support and kids to teach, like the article stated. There would be so many benefits for families and people in genera if finances were directed towards a different method of punishment and guidance for illegal actions.

  11. Tim Dies says:

    This article points out the sad reality of the prison system in today’s society. With the number of prisoners having quadrupled in the past four decades it is clear to see that this was caused by the political landscape. The rhetoric used in politics claiming we needed to be “tough on crime” has put us in a situation where we now realize we were wrong about crime. Instead of being “tough on crime” we should have been smart on crime. We should have looked at what the benefits and consequences of being “tough on crime” were and should have realized that arresting people for minor offenses and putting them in jail isn’t a good strategy to stop crime. Instead of punishing criminals we are punishing families by breaking up households and allowing many children to grow up without fathers which puts them in a cycle without good role models leading them often to a life of crime. We need to, as the article says, educate criminals in the “reformed prison of the future” to help and show inmates how they can become a functioning member of society. Without these changes, the prison system will continue to be a place of loss and hopelessness.

  12. Shannon Lefebvre says:

    The number of people that are incarcerated, 2.2 million, is absolutely outrageous. I can’t believe that we are locking up this many people and half of them haven’t even committed a violent crime. The punishment you receive should mirror the action you have done. This does not seem like the case in the modern prison system. This causes so many problems such as over crowding in the prisons, tax money going towards people that don’t deserve it, and many other things. If the inmates that we are paying $30,000 a year for were released, that money could be spent on bettering our economy or helping build America back up.

  13. Trenisha Battiste says:

    The number of people that are incarcerated has become quite ridiculous. some of these people don’t even need to be in jail but because of many three strike laws, it has placed people in jail for life for a petty crime. all they keep doing is wasting the tax payers money by having somebody in jail who probably only needed probation. taking these father and mothers away from their children because they broke the law. sometimes parents break the law to help there kids because they have no one else to look too. there are so many changes that should be done in the prison system. like for one they need to put all the non-violent offenders on probations. Leave the harden criminals in prison away from civilization. violent criminals can make non-violent criminals act a certain type of way then they end up being violent when they eventually get out. That’s all because of the system and how they mess people lives up for a minor crime.

  14. Paige Zimmermann says:

    I think the numbers made a huge impact. Having so many people now incarcerated along with so many children having a father incarcerated really has a strong relation in my eyes. Children need a father figure in their life for proper and healthy growth and having their fathers be in jail or prison doesn’t help them. Yes, some of the children likely have different father figures in their life, but many of them may not. I think we need to utilize treatment courts and work on different ways of trying to deter crime and really decide what is worth rotting away in prison for. Seeing people sit in prison for possession of marijuana but them letting a rapist get off easy just doesn’t seem plausible in my eyes. We need to weigh the cost and benefit of each person in prison.

  15. Mason Fleury says:

    This article made me think about prisons and jail sentences in a different way. There are a few key points that really stuck out to me in this article. The first thing being that 2.1 million families are living without a father. Without a father, families struggle to stay afloat not only financially but mentally as well. Without a father figure, children have a hard time understanding what is right from wrong and have a hard time adapting to the world around them. In most cases, a family that has their father in prison will end up having its children follow in a similar path because they do not have that figure in their life to guide them, which leads to even more families without their father. Another thing that really struck me is the comment made by Judge Posner. We throw people into prison as if prison is a trash can, making prisoners a pretty expensive piece of trash in return. Rather than dismembering these people from society, I agree that we should teach these people how to act in the real world. Everyone makes mistakes, some bigger than others, but we should not treat these people any less than what they really are; that being human beings. Jails should be used to help make society a better place, not to be used as a trash can that ends up costing tax payers thousands of dollars a year.

  16. Tyler Smith says:

    This article spoke a lot of the brutal and honest truth about the U.S. criminal justice system. I agree with the article when it mentioned that overcrowded prisons are not the reason for the reduction of crime. I feel that overcrowded prisons would only make things worse for a lot people, especially locking up non-violent offenders with violent offenders. Prison is meant to reduce crime and the likelihood of that person committing a serious crime again, not to make that person into more of a criminal than they were before. I really enjoyed that the article provided some quotations from that of Pope Francis. “Pope Francis proposes that prisoners—through reparation, confession and contrition—should be able to return to society.” This idea by Pope Francis reminded me a lot of restorative justice, the focus on rehabilitation between not just the offender, but the victims and the community as well. As a country we need to focus more on rehabilitation. Prison is not a place for addicts and those struggling with mental health as well as those for who are nonviolent offenders. I believe that those convicted of a crime who serve their sentence and are then released back into society do not learn the full impact that their crime took on those in the community. Often times they accept the stigma of being a criminal and then just continue to break the law because that is how they see themselves. Those who serve their sentence need to take the time to heal and fully reintegrate back into society.

  17. Adam Earle says:

    As I read this article, I enjoyed the thinly that were said by the Pope. I think that here in America, we need to revamp our criminal justice system. Here in America, I don’t think that we focus enough on getting our criminal rehabilitated. I feel that many of our criminal would get and stay out of jail, if they had a good job and a support network. Incarceration has become too much of a money make process and I feel it os l border of being corruption

  18. Brandon Layber says:

    It is absolutely astonishing that one in every hundred adults is incarcerated in the United States. Not only is it a shame that the United States has such a high amount of incarcerated civilians, the amount of money it costs to house, feed, and provide services for inmates comes from tax payer money. The whole “tough on crime” focus on crime is stripping fathers from their families, and people away from their community, isolating a large portion of inmates who do not necessarily need to be locked up. I find it interesting that prisons are now available to be privatized. The privatizing of prisons seems to me like a business venture where costs are cut and profit off of criminals coming in only benefits the owner. What I find most problematic is the social aspect behind mass incarceration. It is reported that as much as 2.1miliion fathers are incarcerated currently. Those kids lack a major guidance in their lives that in turn might cause them to end up in the same place as their father.

  19. Ivan Khamenka says:

    I think as I read the most interesting thing was how many people are in prison. It says about 2.2 million or 1 in every 100 adults. Now to me thats either an issue with how we punish or choose who goes to prison. Or society as a whole is “screwed up”. “Families bear the consequences of incarceration. In the last two decades of the 20th century, the number of children with incarcerated fathers in the United States shot up from 350,000 to 2.1 million.” Was also a statistic that really stood out to me. Overall, I think this was a very cool article.

  20. tiarra merrill says:

    Criminal punishment in the United States is raising extensively, we have incarcerated more people than any other country in the world and I think this is becoming a problem. We as a society should feel disappointed, this should raise questions within the law rather they are doing their jobs right. I believe law enforcement incarcerate individuals based off violent crimes, a lot of people that are incarcerated are not because of drug offenses. Its becoming out of control and our prisons are over packed. I see prisons being an “economic engine” because society want to obtain their status in society. We incarcerate all these individuals yet they don’t help them make a better living for themselves, the criminal justice system does not fund reforming prisoners when they are sent to the corruptive environments that are supposed to “reform” these individuals. I see why our rate of imprisonment is skyrocketing because they have to have a certain amount of inmates placed in these facilities as well.

    The law is always changing, but I don’t think for the better, our system is so messed up to where I do not blame the lawyers, jury, or judge for the convictions of innocent people. The system should be to blame, they need to do better with these laws. If we were to let these individuals out early it could cause for the percentage of inmates to decrease. It also does not make it better when the most individuals that are incarcerated are African Americans. They are taking away from their families this just adds on to all the problems that African American families faces.

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