Overcrowding in Jails

In: Other Topics

Submitted By tamarabush2010
Words 971
Pages 4
This essay argues that prison does not deter crime, and that non-violent offenders should receive punishment other than prison sentences.

I Introduction

American jails are overcrowded; in fact, America has a disproportionate number of its citizens behind bars. And the prison population keeps growing. Does prison deter crime, or merely teach young people how to be better criminals?
Supporters of harsh jail sentences often cite several arguments as the basis for their belief. These include the idea that jail terms serve as a deterrent to crime; that wrongdoing must be punished, and that a decent society has the right to ensure the safety of its members by incarcerating those who break its laws. This paper supports the following argument: Nonviolent criminals should receive punishments other than jail sentences, and in doing so refutes the beliefs stated above. (The conclusions in the paper are based on life experience and reasoning, not formal references.)

II Supporting Points

Considering the condition of American jails and whether they function as they should, the following points come to mind. First, the jails are overcrowded, and that in itself leads to problems for inmates and correction officials. Tempers fray, violence erupts, and there is no way in which lesser offenders can stay away from more hardened types. Second, there is no evidence to show that jail sentence deter crime. Third, I believe the recidivism rate is high. Fourth, I think there is truth to the contention that jails are “schools for crime.” Finally, I don’t believe there is a “one-size-fits-all” punishment system, and the “get tough on crime” campaigns that have resulted in so-called “three strikes” laws in states around the country have gone too far in the wrong direction.

III Further Discussion

Let’s examine three of these points: deterrence, the idea of jails being…...

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