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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First Step Toward Prison Reform
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 (2019), “we send too many people in jail. We keep them there for too long. We do little to rehabilitate them” (para. 1). 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 are conjoint notions that should be viewed holistically. Rethinking how security is established within society is the first step toward the change. Public safety should imply providing multiple opportunities for all young people to receive proper education and remain in schools. It should also involve the provision of safe and affordable housing that ensures that families stay together, have shelter, and are away from the streets (Warren, 2019). Public safety is also associated with providing the establishment of effective violence prevention that would divert young people from resorting to criminal activity even before law enforcement becomes involved (Warren, 2019). 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
This 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 favorable life opportunities upon release (Duwe, 2017). Capacity building is another critical aspect of improving environments at prisons and implies the training of staff on human rights as well as incorporating prisoner assessment and classification systems that contribute to risk prevention. System improvements are more complicated; however, they are necessary for solving problems with prisoners’ transportations, streamlining the case file management, building sustainable processes of prisoner education, and preparation for life after release.
Development of the New Prison Model
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, 2012). 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 discourage people from committing crimes.
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.
Duwe, G. (2017). The use and impact of correctional programming for inmates on pre- and post-release outcomes. U.S. Department of Justice. Web.
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United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2012). Introductory handbook on the prevention of recidivism and social reintegration of Offenders. Web.
Warren, E. (2019). Rethinking public safety to reduce mass incarceration and strengthen communities. Medium. Web.
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