Research Paper: Justice, Crime and Ethics Prepping

Pages: 10 (3434 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Many prisons in the United States have adopted this Panopticon model and have begun functioning under the fact that all humans, even prisoners, have the right to be treated with human dignity. Using the model set forth by Bentham, criminal justice and psychological experts have seen that the condition of a prison certainly adds to a prisoner's pain and suffering during confinement. Bentham suggested that even those who had been undoubtedly scarred by a criminal and injured in any capacity would have suffering that -- no matter how great -- would never measure the pain and suffering of a prisoner who would spend the rest of his life or an extended time in the confines of a cell. Bentham's views and visions of utilitarianism in the realm of the prison have been both argued and implemented in the United States and throughout the world, and a general understanding that criminals are still humans who deserve to be treated with the fundamental rights that their existence has provided them has risen to the forefront in the prisons of most Western societies.

Ethical Issue Debate

Perhaps the most argued ethical issue when it comes to the call to continuing to rehabilitate is the question of spending the country's money, in a time of poor economic standing, on prisoners and not on the economic standing of hardworking citizens who have never been to jail or in trouble with the law. Such a debate comes into hand and into play in the realm of ethics because regardless of the fact that all humans should be treated equally as a basic right of humanity, prisoners are consistently viewed as less than human in the eyes of many. Why then, should these individuals who appear beneath us be afforded the education and training cost-free that many law-abiding individuals would love to have yet could never afford?

Currently the country is still facing the effects of the recession. Individuals who were once affluent members of society are now out of work and out of their homes. Unemployment is still at an undesirable standstill. Food banks have seen influxes of individuals looking for a meal unlike any time since the Great Depression. In such times of crisis, many people view the government's funding of policy like the Second Chance Act as a travesty. With so many people in the American population pinching their pennies to put dinner on the table, the American inmate receives three meals a day. While heat and water are being turned off all around the country because people can't pay their bills, inmates always have the option to shower and shave before getting into a bed. Of course, no sane individual would switch places with these inmates, but it just goes to show the kind of amenities that these people are provided with while the rest of the country is rapidly changing from the "haves" to the "have nots."

Again, the situation reverts quickly back to the fact that all human beings deserve the right to live happily, which is something that is generally hard to find in the American prison system. Yet each year, inmates are learning the skills they will need to go out and work in the real world, they are earning their GEDs from prison-led training, they are going on to achieve higher education and they are learning to provide for the families that they have left on the outside. Surely this cannot be all bad. Perhaps the ethical question can be solved by understanding what those individuals who go out into the world after having been incarcerated to do good have done -- to see what the six out of ten have contributed to their families and their country upon being given the tools to have done so.

The overwhelming amount of statistics presented detail the overwhelming statistics of those individuals who return to a life of crime, but clearly missing are the values that trace back to ex-prisoners who have become contributing members of society. In order to assess who these people are, the success stories must be weeded out from the failures, but these success stories shed light on the successful people that rehabilitation while in prison has molded. These people cite the system as the reason for their respective successes, which while it seems counter-intuitive, sheds light on the feats that can be achieved when the world does not give up on you.

Take, for instance, the story of Michael Santos, a long-term federal inmate, sentenced in 1987 at the age of 23 to a 45-year term for selling cocaine. Through the rehabilitative programs offered at his prison, Santos earned his bachelor's degree, his master's degree and a regular blog about prison reform for the Huffington Post, and Santos has done this all behind bars. Such feats can be achieved with similar self-improvement and rehabilitation programs which can be seen in viewing countless other stories just like Michael's -- the stories you rarely hear.

Prisoners who participate in these programs in large numbers receive their post-secondary degrees within prison walls, which is especially beneficial for young offenders. Recent studies have found that there is a high concentration of youth offenders who meet the criteria to participate in programs funded through the government and its prison grant allocations (Meyer, 2010, pp. 153). In this context, many inmates who come into the prison setting in their youth are able to work toward new education which has the possibility of aiding them in their eventual parole. For instance, an inmate who has utilized his time in the prison setting to better himself, receiving educational degrees and working to hone them while in prison is far more likely to be offered early release than someone who has done nothing during the duration of his sentence to better himself as an individual or as a part of society.

Such programs are necessary for the treatment of prisoners as human being, which should be enough to settle the financial debate that still looms in current American society. In being imprisoned itself, many more chances are added to an individual that he or she will commit a future crime; further, it is suggested that there are far more negative counter-influences associated in prisons with punishment tactics such as: abuse by other prisoners; humiliation by staff; inhumane conditions; further alienation by society; and barriers to work, housing and other forms of integration upon release (Gehring and Warner, 2007, pp. 170; Werner, 2000, pp. 2).

In viewing all the facts at hand, in assessing the use of rehabilitative programs for prisoners on a human note as well as a societal one, it is clear that systems that utilize punishment are archaic and not useful to the progression of American society. The fact remains that a massive percentage of prisoners who are incarcerated will leave prison and enter society again. The choice that we, as American people, have is to assert that educating and training these prisoners for this re-entrance is the most beneficial thing we can do to ensure that these individuals will not re-offend. It is our duty as fellow-citizens of these prisoners to afford them their rights as a human and as an American, and there are certain routes to ensure this in the realm of public policy.

Recommendation of Continued Use for the Future

In viewing the alternative to rehabilitation, there appears no other method of ensuring that those individuals who leave prison are individuals that can function among the rest of society in an effective way. The United States government has long been a proponent of such measures as seen through the noted policy implemented throughout the years, and the only right way to begin planning for the future of the country and the future of criminal justice is to continue these methods with little modification. Perhaps the most effective way to implement such a future is to follow the suggestions of prison guards and officials themselves.

Sergeant Barry Everett has found that the most effective way to rehabilitate prisoners is to follow the 12-point plan that has been rapidly spreading in use throughout the country, which ensures that when prisoner release days come or if an early inmate release should come, past inmates will have the tools that they need for success already embedded in their minds. These tools include several easy and effective tools that prison officials and employees can work by in order to ensure that their work pays off in the end. The 12 steps toward successful rehabilitation include tips such as: don't waste money, time or resources on "lifer" inmates, who will never be able to utilize what they have learned in the real world; college degrees must be paid for out-of-pocket by inmates and not by taxpayers; sex offenders need psychiatric care, not rehabilitation; real trade programs are essential to inmates who will be released; private businesses can and will teach their skills to inmates; allow inmate labor to be bought;… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Justice, Crime and Ethics Prepping.  (2012, November 15).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/justice-crime-ethics-prepping/7014132

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"Justice, Crime and Ethics Prepping."  15 November 2012.  Web.  21 May 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/justice-crime-ethics-prepping/7014132>.

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"Justice, Crime and Ethics Prepping."  Essaytown.com.  November 15, 2012.  Accessed May 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/justice-crime-ethics-prepping/7014132.