Prison Reform in the US Criminal Justice System

Working Thesis Statement

Prison reform should be implemented through ensuring public safety, improve the circumstances of incarceration to create a constructive culture, and develop a model to incentivize behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles conducive to personal self-control and responsibility.

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Working Draft

The topic of prison reform has been highly debated as the American Criminal Justice System has failed to address the practical and social challenges associated with incarceration as well as the reentering of ex-prisoners into society. The existing methods of punishment for crimes do not address the constructive culture necessary to improve the behavior of the population as they fail to include a variety of educational, environmental, occupational, and psychological challenges. As mentioned by Warren, “we send too many people in jail. We keep them there for too long. We do little to rehabilitate them” (1, para. 2). Regardless huge economic advantages gained by private corporations and businesses that are profiting from the current prison system, there are “catastrophic human and financial cost for the families involved and the communities within which they live” (Vazquez, 2). Thus, prison reform should be implemented through ensuring public safety, improve the circumstances of incarceration to create a constructive culture, and develop a model to incentivize behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles conducive to personal self-control and responsibility.

Public safety and prison reform go hand-in-hand. Rethinking the way in which security is established within society is the first step toward the reform. Public safety should imply providing multiple opportunities for all young people to receive proper education and remain in schools. The harsh school discipline protocols, including zero-tolerance and racial discrimination, become factors supporting the school-to-prison pipeline (Mallett, 3) and do not, in fact, contribute to the creation of a secure society. Public safety is also associated with ensuring the establishment of effective violence prevention that would divert young people from resorting to criminal activity even before law enforcement becomes involved (Warren, 1). Finally, public safety should ensure the availability of accessible mental health services as well as programs to manage alcohol and drug addiction. Thus, rethinking the way society and the government approach public safety is instrumental for not only improving police-community relations but also finding a way to move from a solely punitive system to solutions that focus on tackling the roots of crime before they have the opportunity to grow.

Improving the circumstances and environments within prison walls is another step toward carrying out an effective prison reform. Combined with a renewed perspective on public health, the reform should improve the conditions at correctional facilities. From small-scale improvements such as bedding and kitchen equipment to radical shifts in the culture fostered at the facilities, the prison reform should consider all aspects of environmental development. On a small scale, prisons should get new equipment for vocational training and education, such as books. The more educational and occupational resources are available to prisoners, the more likely they are to pursue positive life opportunities upon release (Duwe, 4). Capacity building is another critical aspect of improving environments at prisoners and implies the training of staff on human rights as well as incorporating prisoner assessment and classification systems that help risk prevention. System improvements are more complicated; however, they are necessary for such purposes as solving problems with prisoners’ transportations, streamlining the case file management, and building sustainable processes of prisoner education and preparation for life after release.

Prison reform cannot be implemented successfully without the development of the model that incentivizes behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles that facilitate personal self-control and responsibility. Both social reintegration programs for prisoners and prevention programs for high-risk individuals are imperative to implement to promote their self-confidence, self-efficacy, and positive social relationships as methods to address the profoundly disturbing periods in their lives (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 5). Programs that improve the lifestyles of high-risk populations and encourage the positive development of such individuals are imperative to prevent reconvictions as well as foster environments that would not encourage people to commit crimes.

However, there is a high risk of further exacerbation of racial-based issues. Thus, some critics argue that prison reform and its so-called back-end approach to rehabilitation will only escalate the racial disparities among prisoners and contribute to the marginalization of Blacks and Latinos. There is a concern that the abovementioned programs favor predominantly white-collar offenders, who are unlikely to be people of color, which means a lack of equal release opportunities for prisoners regardless of their race (Wolcott, 6). Another vital criticism here is that the prison reform fails to address primary reasons why people get incarcerated altogether. Best minds argue with fervency whether disparities in imprisonment and further release are caused by racism or by making choices, and reasons why Blacks make proportionally more criminal choices than whites, are debatable.

Prison reform has always been and remains highly disputed today. In the current exploration, the issue has been addressed from the perspective of improving circumstances and environments that encourage people to commit crimes. Prison reform can be successfully carried out through the improvement of public safety, the development of positive environments at prisons, and the facilitation of models that incentivize lifestyles targeted at promoting personal self-control and responsibility.

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Elizabeth Warren. 2019. Rethinking Public Safety to Reduce Mass Incarceration and Strengthen Communities. Medium. Web.

Yolanda Vazquez. 2017. Crimmigration: The Missing Piece of Criminal Justice Reform. University of Richmond Law Review, 51(4). 1093-1148. Web.

Christopher A. Mallett. 2017. The School-To-Prison Pipeline: Disproportionate Impact on Vulnerable Children and Adolescents. Education and urban society. 49(6). 563-592. Web.

Grant Duwe. 2017. The Use and Impact of Correctional Programming for Inmates on Pre- and Post-Release Outcomes. U.S. Department of Justice. Web.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2012. Introductory Handbook on The Prevention of Recidivism and Social Reintegration of Offenders. Web.

Jennifer M. Wolcott. 2018. Prison Reform and Redemption for Whom? Texas Education Review. Fall 2018 Special Issue. 60-70. Web.

Feedback Reflection

The received feedback: “Well organized outline. Missing counter perspective; need two different sources for each main idea. Strong thesis statement. Well-developed intro. Body paragraph has good topic sentence but needs at least one more piece of evidence from a different source. (Only needed intro, first body paragraph.) Strong fluency. Missing feedback reflection.”

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The feedback was used step by step to improve the paper. The focus was made on missing constituents. First of all, additional sources were found. Then, the counter-perspective was worked out and formulated to ensure an overall persuasiveness of the essay. An extra piece of evidence from another source was developed for the introduction and the first body paragraph. The feedback provides the students with an excellent opportunity to practice by reviewing their paper. It will help have a fresh and critical look at the writing and eliminate mistakes in the future.

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"Prison Reform in the US Criminal Justice System." StudyCorgi, 16 Aug. 2021,

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Prison Reform in the US Criminal Justice System." August 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Prison Reform in the US Criminal Justice System'. 16 August.

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