Should Incarceration Serve as Rehabilitation or Retribution

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ShouldIncarceration Serve as Rehabilitation or Retribution

Historicaloverview of incarceration

Tostart with, it is important to note that the prisons are not one ofthe commonly used methods used to punish those who commit a crime. Itis only one of the number of sanctions that has been available incourts to deal with those people who are involved in crimes. In theancient world, some of the most common forms of punishment that wereused instead of incarceration include forced labor, socialpunishment, and corporal punishment. Sanctions for criminal behaviorappeared to be social events that were designed to shame a person anddeter others. The start of incarceration as a form of punishment wasof the idea that restricting someone’s freedom would be significantin reducing crime. In the 16th and 17th centuries, prisons appearedto place individuals were held as they were awaiting their punishmentand it was rarely used for punishment itself. Typically, they werebadly maintained, and people even died of gaol fever. By the end ofthe 1900s, there was violence over the state of the prisonsconditions in America that resulted to the reformatory movement. Themovement tried to define prison’s role as that of reformingprisoners into model citizens (Jones, et al. 2009). This could beachieved by providing work, education and also counseling. As aresult, for the first time, children were separated from the adultprisoners

Typically,prisons have seen a great advancement as time has progressed. Fromthe 1980’s onwards, there has been a rapid construction of prisonsin remote locations loaded with draconian guidelines and deliberatelysevere conditions. The peak of the modern prisons is the highestlevel of prison security that is located in a preferably rural area.Its major intention is to hold a great number of inmates with noconsideration of their behavior in prison or even afterward.

Argumenton Rehabilitation

Itis crucial to note that rehabilitation is the primary goal of thecorrectional systems. This concept is based on the fact that somefactors are responsible for particular criminal behavior. Typically,sometimes it is not a free will decision of a person to commit acrime, and thus other factors such as psychological development,biological makeup or the social surrounding of a person may play acrucial part in their participation to crime. The core goal ofrehabilitation assumes that people can be treated/corrected andreturned to a crime free lifestyle.

Rehabilitationis a better process of dealing with crime since it values both thesecurity of the society as well as the life of the person. In thisprogram, the inmate is encouraged such that they can be able todistinguish crime from other activities. Typically, rehabilitationtries to identify what factors might have caused a person to engagein criminal activities. After that, they are advised appropriately onhow they can curb those factors and live a free life. From thisperspective, it is seen that the main goal of rehabilitation is touphold the security of the society by eliminating factors that canlead to criminal activities.

Additionally,rehabilitation also aims at improving the quality of life of theoffenders. Rehabilitation programs aim at shaping the character ofthe individuals so that they can be accepted by other members of thesociety. For instance, in the case of substance abuse, individualsare subjected to programs that will help them to start a new lifewithout drugs (Casella, 2011). They are advised on the appropriateways that they can shun from substance abuse and live a healthy lifeonce again. Therefore, rehabilitation programs are helpful both at anindividual level and societal level.

Argumentfor retribution

Retributionrefers to the punishment that one suffers for the wrong/crime theycommitted. Many people think that this is the most appropriate way ofdealing with criminals since they have to pay for the things thatthey have done. Typically, it is believed a guilty person is supposedto be punished, and they should be punished in the relation to theseverity of the crime that they committed. It is an appropriatemethod of dealing with criminals since it sends a message to othercriminals so that they can shun from crime. This mode of punishmentcan reduce criminal activities to a higher extent compared to othermethods such as rehabilitation. For instance, the case of murder, themurderer is expected to face a death penalty. This will in turninstill fear to other people planning the same act because of theprice that they will have to pay.

Typically,retribution bases on the idea that criminals have to pay for theircrimes according to the severity of the crime. Additionally, it ismeant to show other people in the society that they should shun fromcriminal activities because they might have to pay a higher price fortheir actions. From this perspective, it is evident that retributioncan be a crucial tool of eliminating crime in the society.

AfricanAmerican in Incarceration

Tostart with, it is important to know that since time immemorialAfrican Americans have always been treated poorly especially by thepolice in the United States. Typically, about a million of AfricanAmericans constitute the total population of 2.3 million prisoners inthe United States. Research has shown that the African Americans areincarcerated more than the whites at a rate of about six times.Besides, it is evident that the African Americans are incarceratedaveragely 30 times longer in a jail term for a similar drug crimecommitted by a white man.

TheAfrican Americans have suffered in this field in two significantways. One, they are more prone to victimization by crime compared toother groups. This does create a set of problems that interfere withother areas of productive activity. Two, the rate at which AfricanAmerican come from forms of criminal justice supervision is alarmingdue to the consequences that affect not only the victims but alsocommunities and families as well.

EscalatedIncarceration Rates.

Ascompared to other countries, there is an extremely large number ofAfrican Americans that are behind bars. To be specific, statisticshas it that about 745, 000 of the blacks are in prison in the UnitedStates. This number has to be met by numerous countries among whichare India, Canada, Japan, England, Israel, and Finland among others.In general, the crimes that have been committed by African Americanshave been taken seriously than the same crime committed by thewhites. There has been an increased rate of incarceration of theblack regarding criminal issues. They have been sentenced for a longtime in jail to serve for the crime that they have committed. This isthe contrary in the case of the white people who have sometimes beengiven a second chance in the society. The whites have been subjectedto little punishment for the crimes that they engage in compared tothe same crime committed by the African American. The blacks have hadto pay severely for the crimes they commit, and this shows theevident discrimination that exists in the United States.

Additionally,it is crucial to note that most of the black children have also beenjailed compared to other children. Research shows that the blackchildren tend to avoid education and, in turn, they face imprisonmentfor a long time so that they can be rehabilitated. In the same note,also most of the white children tend to avoid education but most oftheir cases are solved in their respective schools compared to theblacks that are forwarded to the court of law. This is a crucialargument since it leads to denying the African American childrentheir right to transform and get back to education matters.Typically, most of the black children are also incarcerated comparedto the white children (Casella, 2001).

Examinationof National Policies

TheAmerican population often define the American system as being toughon crime. On the contrary, the penal system in the United States isseen as being wicked in the Western society (Mallory, 2006). Thesystem can only be accepted if there will be a reduction in crimethat has not been experienced since the beginning of incarceration.It can be confidently concluded that America’s aim to raisepunishment to reduce crimes bores no fruits. It can be also said thatAmerica’s prison system inefficiently deters crime, and it is notsuitable in rehabilitating offenders.

Atthis time, the United States prison reform measures have gone throughdifficulties due to the evolving political landscape, continuingnational recession and public view of a penal system. Livingstandards in prisons are viewed as an added punishment. According toWarden Norton, accounts in American day-to-day life, as far aspoliticians are concerned, the most effective ways to utilizetaxpayers’ money that is hard-earned is to build more walls, employmore guards and have more bars. A highly populated prison has beenone of the constraints that is encounter towards having an effectiverehabilitative programs among the prisoners, especially amidstlimited budgets and recessions.

Stateswith a high incarceration rate of the African American maintains ahigh rate of Africa American crimes. This is because of the spaceprovided for criminal networking that often facilitates the mostcriminal activity. We can relate the increase in crimes to littlesupervision and exposure to bad behavior. Due to high incarcerationrates of the Africa American this cyclic nature will never cease toexist.


Moreof Africa American prisoners offend within a short time after leavingprison. It is vitally important on how to treat them while they areincarcerated. It can be fairly concluded that crime rate amongAfrica-American is high regardless increased measures inincarceration. There seems to be a need for re-strategizing models ofprison systems.


Jones,R. S., Ross, J. I., Richards, S. C., &amp Murphy, D. S. (2009). TheFirst Dime A Decade of Convict Criminology.&nbspThePrison Journal,&nbsp89(2),151-171.

Mallory,J. L. (2006). Globalization, prisons, and the philosophy of punishment.Women’s Studies,&nbsp35(6),529-543.

Casella,R. (2001).&nbspAtzero tolerance: Punishment, prevention, and school violence&nbsp(Vol.17). Peter Lang Pub Incorporated.

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