Final Paper ECE303 – Issues Regarding Corrections System

This paper explores varied issues regarding corrections. It also explores the options and strategies that are applied to meet the corrections’ aims. The corrections system has a rich and long-running history.

History

In the 16th century, as well as the 17th century, criminal behaviors sanctions were most commonly public events aimed at shaming criminals and deterring others. The common punishments meted out to criminals then included branding, whipping, the pillory, and ducking stool, and quite often death (Edge, 2009). Prisons, including the London Bridewell, were largely places where individuals were held awaiting trial or punishments and were rarely seen as punishments in their right. Criminals were held together regardless of their gender, prisons were poorly maintained, prison wardens were rather negligent, and prisoners were likely to die from disease outbreaks.

Read also Historical Evolution of Punishment and Eventual Use of “Houses of Correction” in America

In the 18th century, there was marked opposition to having criminals suffer death especially for petty crimes (Edge, 2009). Jurors were hesitant to find suspects guilty in cases where the mandated punishment was death. Prisons and hard labor were increasingly being seen as suitable punishments especially in the case of petty offenses. Convicted persons were mostly disposed via transportation especially to colonies. When the transportation was stopped later in the century, the alternative punishments, or sanctions, that came into widespread usage included hard labor and being committed to houses of correction, which gave rise to the utilization of prison hulk sanctions starting 1776 to mid-19th century.

Read also History of Punishment – Cesare Beccaria

From the latter half of the 18th century, prison conditions improved, men were held separately from women, and panopticon was adopted (Edge, 2009). The 1799 Penitentiary Act required that goals be put up for a single inmate for every cell. In the early decades of the 19th century, the death sentence was deemed unfit for numerous crimes. Stocks and other shaming punishments were deemed outdated. Imprisonment became the choice punishment for the gravest of crimes save for murder. There were increasing calls for reforming the corrections system. State prisons were established. The Prisons Commission was put in charge of all prisons in 1877.

In the 20th century the borstal system was instituted, allowing for the subjection of young offenders to hard labor, a structured moral atmosphere, and educational along with technical education. Many open prisons were put up especially starting from the 1930s. In 1948, flogging, hard labor, and penal servitude were banned via the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act. From then, prisons, which are run by the Prison Service, have been at the core of the corrections system (Edge, 2009; Roth, 2011). The prisons take varied forms: borstal institutions, detention centers, and remand centers. In recent times, governments have been engaging the private sector as a key participant in the system to put up and run prison systems.

Participants and Their Roles

As noted earlier, more and more governments have been engaging the private sector as a key participant in the system to put up and run prison systems. Other participants in the system include probation officials, public defenders, prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement, and judges (Stanko, Gillespie & Crews, 2004).  Probation officers do background checks on offenders, appraise the efficiency of rehabilitation services, and help integrate offenders back to their communities (Roth, 2011). Public defenders offer indigent defendants legal assistance or representation. The prosecuting attorneys by and large prosecute the cases brought to court against specific suspects.

Read also Role of Intermediate Sanctions in Corrections

The judges consider the cases brought before them and the related facts and decree punishments against suspects who are found culpable of given offenses. Law enforcement includes sheriffs, prison wardens, and frontline police officers (Stanko, Gillespie & Crews, 2004).  Sheriffs and prison wardens are charged with the execution of the punishments decreed by courts against given offenders in specific corrections environments or spaces, including borstal institutions, detention centers, and remand centers. They are charged with running those institutions.

Challenges Faced by Corrections Administrations

There are varied issues, or impediments, that corrections administrations face when operating, or running, prisons. The principal ones are privatization, mental healthcare, and overcrowding. Some corrections administration as well face challenges related to funding, gang activities, racism, and assaults. In the US and elsewhere in the world, almost all prisons are overcrowded (Roth, 2011). That is often blamed on hard economic times, which lead to crime incidence increments. Owing to the overcrowding of some prisons, the prisoners in them at times protest via hunger strikes and pressing of charges against the administrations in court.

Read also Correctional Substance Abuse – Case Study on Best Practices in Corrections

The number of inmates with mental sicknesses keeps on growing. It is costly and challenging for the administrations to offer appropriate care to the inmates. Some treatment centers where the administrations refer the inmates to turn them away (Stanko, Gillespie & Crews, 2004).  As noted earlier, more and more governments have been engaging the private sector as a key participant in the system to put up and run prison systems. The rise of private prisons poses a challenge to public corrections administrations. As well, the privatization of public corrections systems is making some officers serving the administrations and the systems in extension redundant.

Read also How Correctional Concerns Impact Clinical Treatment of Offenders

Rights of Prisoners

The majority of laws on prisoner rights are related to elementary civil liberties as well as human rights. Prisoners have the right not to suffer inhumane, odd, or cruel, punishments. That means when administering required services to prisoners by prison officials, the officials are legally disallowed from meting the punishments, including abuse and torture, to the prisoners (Stanko, Gillespie & Crews, 2004).

Read also Legal Mechanisms of Challenging Confinement – Prisoners’ Rights

Prisoners have the right not suffer sexual harassment, including being sexually molested or raped when in prison. When administering required services to prisoners by prison officials, the officials are legally disallowed from sexually harassing them. Inmates have the right to express their complaints regarding court access and prison conditions, to receiving mental healthcare and medical care, to the religious practices and persuasions that they adopt, and to free speech. Besides, Prisoners have the right not to suffer discriminatory acts from the officials when administering required services to them.

Read also Primary Constitutional Amendments That Comprise Prisoner Complaints; 1st, 4th, 8th, and 14th – Cases

Alternative Forms of Corrections

There are various forms of corrections, including incarcerations, fines, probations, bail supervision programs, restitution programs, and parole. When awaiting trial, accused persons may be committed to bail supervision programs. The persons are placed under community supervision (Roth, 2011). Compared to incarceration, bail supervision programs are better since they allow the accused more time and freedom to ready their defenses. Even then, unlike incarceration, the programs present the accused with many opportunities for interfering with any ongoing investigations against them. Some offenders are placed on restitution programs in which they pay back or compensate victims for loss or damages. Unlike incarceration, the programs allow for paying back or compensation of victims for loss or damages by offenders. Even then, unlike incarceration, the programs allow for opportunities for the victims to attack the offenders illegally (Stanko, Gillespie & Crews, 2004).

Read also Advantages of Using Alternatives To Incarceration

The fines may include serving given communities over a specific period. Unlike incarceration, the fines program allows offenders to contribute positively to community projects. Even then, unlike incarceration, the programs allow for opportunities for the victims to attack the offenders illegitimately. Probation programs, unlike incarceration, help offenders reintegrate back to their communities easily. Even then, probation programs, unlike incarceration, allow for opportunities for the victims to attack the offenders illegitimately (Roth, 2011).

Summary

In the 16th century, as well as the 17th century, the commonest punishments meted out to criminals then included branding, whipping, the pillory, and ducking stool, and quite often death. In the 18th century, there was marked opposition to having criminals suffer death especially for petty crimes and convicted persons were mostly disposed via transportation especially to colonies. From the latter half of the 18th century, prison conditions improved, men were held separately from women, and panopticon was adopted. In the 20th century the borstal system was instituted. From then, prisons, which are run by the Prison Service, have been at the core of the corrections system (Edge, 2009; Roth, 2011).

The participants in the system include probation officials, public defenders, prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement, and judges. The issues which corrections administrations face when operating prisons include privatization, mental healthcare, and overcrowding. The majority of laws on prisoner rights are related to elementary civil liberties as well as human rights. There are various forms of corrections, including incarcerations, fines, probations, bail supervision programs, restitution programs, and parole (Roth, 2011; Stanko, Gillespie & Crews, 2004).

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