The German and American Correctional System Essays

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This paper explores the advantages of the German correctional system and the changes that could be made to the current American system to improve its efficiency. Several different comparison studies as well as statistics obtained from credible online sources aid in highlighting the advantages of three key components of the German penal system which make it more successful in crime inhibition and recidivism prevention than the current American counterpart. Reintegration and rehabilitation as the primary aspect in a judge’s choice of verdict are discussed first, following the availability and condition of programs existing in prison for offenders that have been sentenced to incarceration, as well as the ongoing care and help available for …show more content…
This translates to a prison population rate of 79 per 100,000 of national population. This is close to only 10% of the American rate. The prison occupancy level based on official capacity in Germany was determined to be 83.3%. This information helps determine the two nations’ “punitivity ratios” ("Comparisons of Crime in OECD Countries", 2012) which are determined by the number and length of prison sentences given in relation to the offenders who have been found guilty. Out of 34 countries, the United States ranks number 1 with a punitivity ratio of 1.471, while Germany can be found on rank number 22 with a punitivity ratio of 0.069. An article in The Economist describes that an average of “43% of American offenders are returned to state prison within three years of their release” (2011), with rates being significantly higher in large cities. The BMJ in Germany reports that only 33.7% of offenders experienced recidivism (2011). This data is alarming from an American point of view. The question has to be raised what it is that makes the German penal system so different and presumably so much more effective than the American equivalent. The most significant factors that need to be considered are the general focus on prevention and alternate sentencing versus a maximum number and length of prison sentences, the conditions and programs offered for those offenders that do receive incarceration sentences, and the aid offenders with alternate