Last Updated 16 Apr 2020

Jails and Prisons

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One of the key cornerstones of the criminal justice system is the correctional system, specifically the correctional facilities. Prisons and jails are examples of correctional facilities that help keep the criminal justice system running smoothly and efficiently. Without these facilities, there would be no place for criminals to serve their sentences, and no one would really be safe. Although prison and jail seem to be interchangeable words, they actually mean two different types of correctional facilities.

According to “Prisons and Jails” (n. d.) website, Prisons are run by the state or federal government officers for adults who are convicted criminals sentenced for at least a year or more, the adults are confined for the sole reason of punishment for crime, and release (parole for example) will only happen after mandatory time is served. On the other hand, jails are run by regional, county or city officers (Prisons and Jails, n. d. ). Convicted criminals sentenced to jail time typically are sentenced for less than a year, but they are not the only people that could be present in jail.

As well as convicted criminals, there are people in jail for protective custody, being held in contempt, or just pending arraignment (Prisons and Jails, n. d. ). Jails contain a variety of people including juveniles, adults, men and women, repeat offenders, and first-time criminals. Jails are very important to the criminal justice system because they hold inmates for a brief amount of time, but they can make a huge impact. They help reform first time offenders, offer many different types of programs, classes, and work releases in order to help a person rejoin the ways of society and the social norms of the community.

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Locally in St. Cloud, Minnesota there is the Stearns County Jail. This jail is divided into several different sections including the Work Release section, the holding cells, medical cells, separation cells, and six different housing units. Within the housing unit there are 108 beds, there are 12 holding cells, 8 separation cells, and 2 medical cells (Jail FAQs, 2012). The jail is in place to hold inmates for up to one year after their final sentencing.

In contrast there is a prison also located in St.Cloud, Minnesota. In this correctional facility there are 981 inmates currently residing within its walls (MCF-St. Cloud, n. d. ). This facility is limited to men only, but is unlimited as to how long a man can reside within its boundaries. There are no work release programs like there is within the jail facility, but instead there are educational programs to help inmates earn their GED, and even help inmates with vocational training in barbering and masonry (MCF-St. Cloud, n. d. ).

Within any prison setting there are two different cultures at work at the same time. The basic culture of prison is the structured rules that are patrolled at monitored by prison guards and staff (Schmalleger,2011). Beyond the basic standards of prison culture there is an underlying feeling of a whole other culture, a subculture, of prison life that goes way beyond the basic standards of the prison culture. This subculture evolves from the prisoners that dwell within the walls of the prison, laying out their own code of “ethics and conduct” so to speak.

The subculture lays out the inmate rules of how to act, and if someone does not follow these rules they can become subject to the subcultures type of punishment. Another aspect of the subculture in prison would be the language and slang used within the prison. Within almost every prison, there is the existence of slang terms that inmates learn, adopt, and use in order to communicate with one another (Schmalleger, 2011). A third part of prison subculture would be the existence of homosexuality.

According to accounts within the text of Schmalleger (2011), right after being brought into prison inmates are sometimes classified for homosexual relations, most of which are brought on by prison conditions not by a homosexual disposition that had existed prior to incarceration. Those who already have had the homosexual disposition prior to incarceration tend to promote their feminine ways in prison instead of toning it back. Violence within prison is quite common. One type of violence that relates directly within the subculture of prison would be prison rape.

Although starting in 2003 there have been programs put in place (PREA) to help put an end to this sort of violent and demeaning act, there is still rape occurring within prisons across the nation (Schmalleger, 2011). More typical violence occurs within prison as well, and most of these fights occur when someone breaks the code of ethics within the subculture of prison. Probation and parole are two positive endings for a person who has been incarcerated. Probation is when a person’s sentence is suspended as long as they stick to certain conditions of an agreement (Value of probation

and parole, n. d. ). Violating the conditions of this agreement can result in the person being brought back into incarceration to serve the rest of their sentence. Parole is when a person is allowed a conditional, early release from their prison sentence. In order for a person to be able to receive parole, they need to appear before the parole board (Value of probation and parole, n. d. ). Parole and probation do a lot of positive actions for the criminal justice system and the community.

Within the criminal justice system having these in place makes it so that there is less chance for prison overcrowding, while also reducing criminal socialization and chances of repeating an offense. Within the community these programs help keep families together, while also improving the chances of a successful rehabilitation (Value of probation and parole, n. d. ). The entire correctional branch of the criminal justice system is a very complex one, with intricate factors that are circumstantial within each specific correctional facility.

Violence exists within the correctional facilities, but with the availability of parole and probation violence rates might diminish. The only other way to truly get violence rates down is for prison and jail guards, officers, and wardens to monitor subculture activities, behaviors, and “norms” in order to keep prison violence and rape under control. Without the guidance and help of the correctional facilities, no criminals could be rehabilitated successfully and the public would not be safe.

Jails and Prisons essay

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