Corrections Our Philosophy Regarding Crime and Punishment Essay

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Corrections

Our philosophy regarding crime and punishment has shifted at various times in our history. Describe the relationship between social contexts and the justification for punishment. Historically, how have society's beliefs about crime driven crime policy, sentencing practices and correctional techniques?

In Hegel's theory of punishment there lies the idea that there is a socially vital role of both the criminal and the act of punishing. Punishment is a constitutive force of social life and proves the law's force. This idea that crime and punishment play a necessary role was emphasized by a number of social thinkers at the beginning in the late nineteenth century. During this time a different set of philosophical and historical speculations began to surface, which was more about explaining and examining the function of punishment within a social system than in justifying or legitimizing any particular set of practices (Punishment - From Justification to Explanation, 2010).

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This shift in theoretical attention came from many directions. Three key exemplars are the sociological analysis of Emile Durkheim (1858 -- 1917), the Marxian tradition, and the genealogical method of Nietzsche and Michel Foucault (1926 -- 1984). Despite their differences, these approaches have important similarities. First, these theorists did not see crime and punishment as abnormal, but as having the power to construct a larger social order. Rather than closely linking crime with punishment, it was seen within the context of a greater social and economic atmosphere. They were very skeptical, of the two conventional theories of penal justification. All three illustrated an interest in the philosophical ramifications of taking seriously the historical changes in penal practices (Punishment - From Justification to Explanation, 2010).

Essay on Corrections Our Philosophy Regarding Crime and Punishment Assignment

When looking at the social context of crime, skeptics inside and outside of the Marxist theory have challenged the disproportionate distribution of punishment along racial lines, pointing to the disproportionate number of racial minorities filling prisons in the West and the statistical correlation between the severity of punishments especially the death penalty and the race of the victim. Criminologists over the years have also studied the sociology of deviance have also examined the phenomenon of the moral panic which is an exaggerated responses to perceived outbreaks of deviance or criminal behavior (Punishment - From Justification to Explanation, 2010).

Back in the Dark Ages physical punishment often included public floggings. During these times many believed that people, who committed offenses against society, did so because they were possessed by evil or inhabited by demons. There was also a notion that the infliction of pain was a way to remove evil from a person. It was believed that this infliction of pain, especially in a public arena, acted as a deterrent to others who were thinking about committing similar crimes. Bits and pieces of this philosophy have found their way into the American justice system in that during the early years of prisons and punishment in this country, treatment of offenders was usually cruel (Summerfield, 2005).

As society developed and more people became aware of the conditions and treatment given to those sentenced, the Dark Ages gave way to a more humane way of thinking. The constitution of the United States was at the heart of these reforms. The values of society in regards to human rights and the wishes of the people who make up the society began to play a big role. This view functions on the theory that people are willing to play by the rules, that people are willing to forgo for the greater good and that everyone wants to do the right thing (Summerfield, 2005).

2. Discuss the various types of institutional settings.

Imprisonment in the United States is a coordinated power under the Constitution of the United States. This means that prisons operate under both the power of the federal and state governments. Incarceration is one of the main kinds of punishment that is used for people who commit felonies in this country. Less serious delinquents, such as those found guilty of misdemeanor offenses, are often given a short-term sentence that is served in a local city or county jail. Sometimes they are given alternative forms of punishment such as time in a halfway house or house arrest. Federal prisons function at different intensities of security. These are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and consist of five different types of correction facilities to hold inmates.

Minimum Security - these are set up with dormitory like housing and function as a labor force for bordering larger facilities or military bases. They are both program and work oriented in their nature.

Low Security - these usually have a double fenced perimeter and are mostly set up with dormitory style houses. They are also both work and program oriented.

Medium Security -- these facilities often have two perimeters with electronic devices that run along the top of the fences. They often have a lot of interior controls as well has cell block housing.

High Security -- high security facilities often have walls or fencing that is reinforced. There is usually very close monitoring of the movements of inmates. They have cell block housing with double or single occupancy. These facilities also have the highest staff to inmate ratio of all the other facilities.

Administrative - at the administrative correctional facilities, each has a special mission. They often accommodate pretrial offenders, violent or dangerous inmates, or those who are thought to try and escape. They also treat inmates who have medical conditions that are serious or chronic (Martin, 2010).

Recently there has been a lot of debate over the privatization of prisons. Those who are for privatization often stress cost reduction, while those against it often focus on standards of care. There has also been some discussion around whether or not a market economy for prisons might also lead to a market demand for prisoners. While privatized prisons are very new, there has been a long custom of inmates in state and federal run prisons working in prison for low pay (McFarland, McGowan and O'Toole, 2002).

It has been determined that there are several advantages to private prisons. These include flexibility, including the capability to end a contract more easily and cost effectively than it would be to shut down a government prison and lay off workers in the event of a decline in prison population. Private prisons also have an enticement to look for ways to save on costs. Some prisons are intended to save on labor, which corresponds to about 70% of the total costs over the useful life of a prison. This is chiefly important given that posts must often be manned 24 hours a day, requiring more than five employees to cover all the shifts (McFarland, McGowan and O'Toole, 2002).

3. After exploring both states' departments of corrections, compare and contrast the two. What appeared to be good and what appeared to be bad? What about programs? Where there too many or not enough? Did this exercise clear up any of your own misconceptions? If so, which ones?

Both of the state prisons seemed equal in their facilities. Both appeared as a prison should. The programs that were offered to the inmates did vary between the two though. Florida appears to be very dedicated to providing a wide variety of programs for inmates who are in the Florida prison system. The Bureau of Institutional Programs in Florida includes programs in the areas of education services, transition services and chaplaincy services. The belief is that inmates need certain skills in order to make a successful transition back into society once they are released from prison. There is a 100-Hour Transition Training Program which is a statutorily mandated comprehensive transition program that covers job readiness and life management skills. It includes Goal Setting; Problem Solving and Decision Making; Social Situations; Values Clarification; Living a Healthy Lifestyle; Family Issues; Seeking and Keeping a Job; Continuing Education; Community Re-entry and Ones Legal Responsibilities to living as a Law-abiding Citizen. Another program is that of a Department Chaplains that coordinates the provision of Chaplaincy Services at all of the major DOC institutions. They provide over 1,000 religious services and programs each week at DOC facilities across the State (Department of Corrections Institutional Programs a Positive Impact on Inmate Lives, n.d.).

The Georgia Department of Corrections is also dedicated to providing resources to their offender population in an effort to prepare them for the transition from custody to the community. This is done through an assortment of programs. The first is that they provide the Prisoners' Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the United States & Canada. This book contains more than 160 program outlines for all correspondence courses available. This book includes a detailed description of the quality, the cost, and the current course offerings of all correspondence programs that are available to inmates. Other programs include: chaplaincy, faith and character-based programs, offender reentry programs and volunteer services (Reentry Services, n.d.).

Both prisons appear to be very focused on reentry services and preparing the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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