The Punishment Of The Prison System

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"Prisons are closed institutions. They are established and funded by governments to hold people against their will", but why punish (Zyl Smit, 2010)? What is the purpose of prison? This fundamental question stirs up a significant amount of debate. The government, citizens, educators, and even prisoners are divided about the right answers. There is disagreement in the US about the purpose of the prison system. On the one hand, the regulations of the prison system may seek deterrence, incapacitation, or retribution to avoid appearing too soft on criminals (Zyl Smit, 2010; Rossum, 2003). On the other hand, the regulations of the prison system may seek to opportunities to resocialize prisoners or to effect changes in the character, attitudes, or behavior of the convicted offender (Zyl Smit, 2010; Harvard Law Review, 2010). Which approach is the most effective for a society that decides to punish?

What do we do about those who commit crimes? This questions seems to have a more definitive answer in the US. The last four decades of American criminal justice have been shaped by the public appeal to get tough on crime (Colgan, 2006). "Since the mid-1970s, the United States has engaged in a "race to incarcerate" that has resulted in a prison population expanded to a level previously unknown in any democratic society" (Burt, 2010). The US has over 2 million of its citizens incarcerated, which accounts for 25% of the world 's imprisoned population (Forman, 2011). The system has
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