U.S. Penal Structure: From Colonial Masters to Modern Rehabilitation - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1278 Words
Date:  2023-03-23


The penal structure within the United States initially abided by the rules and regulations that were imported from the colonial masters and later incorporated locally. The jail sentences at the time involved pillory, banishment, execution, and corporal punishment for differing criminal offenses (Hall, 2015). Besides, the rehabilitation of prisoners had religious ties that incorporated biblical directives, which advocated for repentance and self-reflection. Nevertheless, the principles of humanity encouraged hard labor for a majority of the felonies, except for murder cases, which had the devastating penalty of a death sentence. But, with time, other forms of punishment were introduced for lesser offenses such as mutilation, branding, fines, as well as whipping of prisoners.

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The society slowly awoke to the reality of human imperfections and, as a result, pushed for reforms within the jail. Due to the improvements, the penal system evolved to do away with the colonial disciplinary system, which was viewed by many as being unsuitable as it involved inhumane sentences (Hall, 2015). Thus, the new approach saw the correctional facilities as places where the inmates, while engaged in productive labor work, will have the time to reflect on their misconduct as they are away from the evil influences of the society. The new approach involved the provision of alone time for the inmates so that they could improve their behavior. Still, later this approach proved to bear little improvement concerning the correction of the released prisoners.

Following the realization that the changes made to the penal system had borne no meaningful improvement, a lot of reformations were conducted with the introduction of training and education. The general view was that with the introduction of training and education, inmates moving towards their release would be in a capacity to change their conduct. Therefore, juveniles on the verge of release equipped with the skills to trade could cope with the afterlife of the prison was a new belief (Hall, 2015). This new belief drove the state prosecutions in handling crime-related social affairs to emphasize on the significance and obligation for the consideration of the prisoner's history. The history was useful in the enlisting of unique correctional programs specific to each inmate as the view on punishment changed. The penalty was incomparable to the magnitude of the offense perpetrated but to the requirements of the offenders.

Education in Prison

The education of prisoners started from way back when inmates learned how to read and write for religious benefits. In later years, a teacher was employed in a school that was established within the New York penitentiary, and a library was later instituted (Hall, 2015). The realization that the lack of education was the chief influencer in the indulgence in criminality led to a law requiring the employment of teachers in various jails. Penitence and hard work became accepted as ideological tools for the reformation of offenders. However, the philosophy developed and the society felt that the criminals should cater to their costs of confinement.

The founding of the American Prison Association led to the establishment of professional ethics within the penitentiary system and the introduction of ideological treatments that were mainly rehabilitative and philanthropic. Thus, the reformation was the best substitute for punishment and had extremely organized programs with a renewed school of thought that regimentation and discipline were instrumental in the rehabilitation of offenders (Hall, 2015). Slowly, the plans were customized to include indeterminate sentencing, employment as well as educational philosophies. Moreover, the potential of prisoners earning considerations for early release or parole based on their transformation within the prison term was put in place. Consequently, this led to the renewed hope on the belief that prisoners could leave the jail as reformed individuals.

The correctional education led to the increased production of manufactured goods by industries that operated the correctional facilities, and this led to the emergence of controversies within the American free-market (Hall, 2015). Nevertheless, production was not halted but shifted to goods that had state agencies as the primary consumers. Generally, prison education went through challenges, and at one point, learning became mandatory to all inmates. During the same period, the prison programs forged formal relationships with educational departments within different states. These relationships permitted the teachers to acquire licenses on one part and the students to receive educational merits such as certificates and diplomas after the completion of their training.

Among the legal reforms made to the prison, education is the 2004 Prison Re-entry Initiative bill that aid prisoners after the end of their prison sentences (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2013). Additionally, the legislation sought to offer supplementary assistance to offenders, including linking them with organizations that required their skills before the prisoner's release (Hall, 2015). The accorded aid to the inmates comprised housing, food, search for employment, as well as health referrals. From a general perspective, the legislation was crafted to assist the inmates in transit from the low-life of crime to becoming responsible components of the society.


Higher Recidivism Rates

Several scholars have researched recidivism and provided us with varying definitions to the word. Still, for this study, recidivism will be described as any occurrence that might lead to reconviction, not taking into consideration the type of offense committed (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2013). Therefore, the factors linked with the increase of reconviction comprise antisocial exclusion and employers' conduct towards ex-convicts.

Exclusion Anti Socialism

There is a unanimous agreement between scholars concerning the high levels of job scarcity among ex-convicts. However, the extent of job scarcity poses a challenge to researchers as little evidence is available to support the argument (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2013). Hence, it is challenging to determine if the low educational qualities or the lack of skills could be the contributing factors. Other factors that are associated with the convicts comprise of drugs and substance abuse, absence of employment history, and low confidence and motivation.

The Conduct of Employers Towards Ex-convicts

There is limited research conducted to establish the behavior of employers towards ex-convicts, and this is attested to the challenges of examining the employers during the recruitment process (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2013). Otherwise, the employers are reluctant to recruit persons with a history of conviction.

Support and Reintegration Programs for Ex-Offenders

Effectiveness of the Reintegration Programs

Factors that contribute to the reintegration of offenders include the experience obtained from the time spent in the correctional facility and the culture within the prisons. But, their release after serving jail term is critical to the offenders who have the opportunity of re-entry into society and socialize like all other upright citizens (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2013). And the re-entry process is an extremely challenging affair as there are emotional consequences for the society, the offender's family, as well as the reprobates. Thus, there is a necessity to ensure that the reintegration programs promote the successful re-entry of the convicts through careful deliberation of the needs and risks involved.

Challenges that ex-convicts face during the reintegration process are numerous, and among them is the stigmatization following their criminal record. Besides, most of them lack boarding facilities, yet others face detachment from families, while others have to contend with the absence of health support. Still, there is an unemployed majority, while a segment of the released convicts is engaged in drug and substance abuse (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2013). The current re-entry programs set to facilitate the transition of the ex-convicts into the society have borne irrelevant results even though the interventions are initiatives of the federal government provided to communities. Even though the federal government has introduced the transitional programs to accelerate the smooth reintegration of ex-convicts, there are also burdens associated with the adjustment of those who served longer jail terms.

Through the analysis of the literature searched, it became apparent that there is limited data o...

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U.S. Penal Structure: From Colonial Masters to Modern Rehabilitation - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 23). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/us-penal-structure-from-colonial-masters-to-modern-rehabilitation-essay-sample

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