Prison Reform, We Need Change

Last Updated: 28 Jan 2021
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In today's society, we’re facing many changes. Our own family, neighbors, and countrymen are afraid of many dangers that influence their lives. In America, we have somewhat of a low crime rate as far as murders, having a rating of twenty-four of sixty-two countries. Although our drug offense rate is number two of sixty-two, in the categories of rape, assault, and kidnapping, the United States tops at number one. We find ourselves asking, why? How did this nation accumulate such high numbers of these crimes? We point our fingers to prisoners and those who are or were convicted on the street.

But we aren’t considering how they got that way in the first place. Everyone grows up with a role model, parent, guardian, some kind of example or someone they look up to. Studies show those who had a childhood involving physical abuse, neglect, or molestation would re-enact those actions, onto someone else. The society needs to change itself. People who sexually, physically, and emotionally abuse their children need to be rehabilitated or put through a program. When a person endures such abuse with no counseling to alter that mind set, that is when they begin to have criminal behavior.

If we made the society a better place and properly handled the people who commit wrongdoings, incarceration rates would decline enormously. U. S. prisons are a breeding ground for violence. We’ve seen what people look like and act like after they’re released from prison. Most inmates get tattoos and maintain a prison mentality. That mentality is having respect, including violent acts when disrespected, and being tough. How is someone supposed to change for good when they’re held in isolation, segregation, or population?

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When a harmless person is admitted into a prison, especially a high security one, they are prone to become violent. The effects of feeling and being held down instead of being pushed to be a better individual have mad inmates very violent people. If you treat someone like an animal, especially a prisoner since they’re confined to small cells, they’re going to act like one. The history of prisons and the inmates who maintain a certain reputation, and recruit other criminals to be like them, have also been a problem within the system.

So many gangs within the prisons have restrained many prisoners from becoming better individuals. Once a prisoner commits an act of violence onto another, their sentence and punishment is often increased. When an inmate doesn’t join or follow the gang life once they enter, they become targets with no defense. It has been increasingly hard to prevent these gangs from going on, that acceptance of them has become necessary for survival in jail. Some inmates are incapable of change. Statistics report almost half of the people in jail have a mental illness, most are not aware they have.

So for those people, a positive change and rehabilitation will be harder to overcome. How is a person supposed to want to change and become a proper citizen when they are emotionally and physically suppressed? Of course a person needs to be accounted for their actions and be punished. But to maintain focus in a negative direction, will do no good within prison walls. To provide a stronger encouraging opportunity to change for cons will give them the option of being a citizen again, instead of residing to prison “hard life. Not only do the guards and gangs within the prisons affect the possibility of reform, but the people outside of the prison. If prisoners were given positive feedback for a good deed they performed within the walls, acknowledged for the good things or steps taken towards a better life, the idea of full reform would be very possible and effective. The environment in prison is so harsh, and sometimes life threatening, it makes it hard for a persons mind to be taken off the idea of just surviving.

When you place an inmate sentenced for a drug offense in a cell next to someone sentenced for several murders, of course they’re going to become self-defensive. This creates fear in the harmless inmate, causing self-defense and that leads to violence. To prevent anything from happening, prisoners resort to being accepted by gangs – that’s how the violence, gambling, and trading rises and continues. A man by the name Michael Santos has been serving time, in prisons of all levels of security, for almost twenty-five years.

Since 1995, he has found several habits that will make a prisoner successful, and has been teaching many classes to other inmates. He states this in an article he wrote, “I lived this program and derived a sense of fulfillment in showing others how such habits could enrich their lives, assist their prison adjustments, and prepare them to emerge successfully. ” The habits he encouraged were: being proactive, begin with the end in mind, take first steps first, seek first to understand then be understood, think win/win, synergize, and continuously sharpen their approach.

Successful inmates created their own opportunities for growth through positive adjustments. They understand the importance of bringing meaning to their lives despite prison conditions. In Michaels classes, he focused not on being released early, but enriching their lives in the present, despite the limitations of confinement. Although those withheld in federal prisons are not given the possibility of early release or probation, these habits should be set in lower level prisons. If we taught these classes or provided more of these programs, the success level of transformed prisoners would increase.

Another reason we need to push for reform is the financial factor of imprisonment. We taxpayers pay more than sixty billion dollars a year and that number will continue skyrocketing. Unless we set programs in our prisons and rehabilitate offenders successfully, our rates will remain the same and our money will be spent on housing these criminals. If we put more effort into hiring better correctional staffs and provide more rehab programs, we would be housing a lot less criminals. Our tax dollars could be spent on improving our communities, schools, government, and providing healthcare for our country.

If three prisoners were released, two of those three would return to prison as re-offenders within three years. This fact should bring attention to everyone that our prison system is horribly failing with rehabilitation of prisoners. Of course the mind sets inmates have in jail often remains once they’re released. If they lived such a way for a year or many years, regardless of the crime, it would be hard to change that person of their habits. That is why we need these programs and classes activated in our prisons.

These classes would bring motivation, inspiration, show inmates the positive side of confinement and focus on becoming a successful individual upon release. A prison should be a place for improving one’s self after committing a crime, not for corruption. We know it will take a long time for such programs to become effective, but as long as we take small steps towards improvement in our prison system, we’ll see improvement in crime and imprison rates. Not only must we establish reform in more prisons, but we must improve our communities that are raising these criminals as well.

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Prison Reform, We Need Change. (2017, May 01). Retrieved from

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