When someone commits a crime, they are expected to be punished to serve justice to the injured party. However, since the principle “eye for an eye” cannot and should not be used in modern society due to many disputes, lawbreakers are being put into custody. While prisons are the most common way of punishing those who have committed a crime, the efficiency of prisons is still being questioned.
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The first and main reason for the existence of prisons is to deny freedom to the lawbreakers to discourage them from committing crimes again. This reason, however, raises many questions, one of those being whether prisons are efficient if they are filled with criminals who are likely to be plotting future crimes together. Research shows more benefits for the inmates to spend more time together if some act as mentors to the others to “cultivate moral awareness and the capacity to act virtuously” (Jang et al., 2020, p. 474). In Texas, the mentor inmates were chosen from those who completed a four-year course in prison, during which they were taught “practical capacities for counseling and tutoring” (Jang et al., 2020, p. 487). The mentor inmates working under the supervision of the prison staff are more likely to help the other inmates to rehabilitate since they are all being accountable to each other.
Another reason prisons exist is to keep criminals away from potential victims. In order to draw away the thoughts of the inmates from potential victims, they are going through therapy, education, and job training in custody. Mental and physical activities in prisons may help the inmates to rehabilitate since, during those activities, they have more contact with “anticriminal patterns and isolation from criminal patterns” (Jang et al., 2020, p. 486). Keeping their minds and power away from interactions with criminal behavior may help the prisoners to reflect on their wrongdoings.
Stating whether or not prisons are efficient is not easy because there are many different cases and different outcomes. Moreover, the choice of punishment depends on the place, the severity of a crime, the legal system, and many other factors. Nevertheless, prisons may be a more conformed way to serve justice by punishing the criminals by taking away their freedom and giving them a chance to rehabilitate by involving in activities that can benefit society.
Jang, S. J., Johnson, B. R., Hays, J., Hallett, M., & Duwe, G. (2020). Prisoners are helping prisoners chang A study of inmate field ministers within Texas prisons. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 64(5), 470-497.