Two basic philosophical reasons for sentencing I chose to compare are deterrence and incapacitation. Incapacitation refers more to jail time, where as, deterrence refers to more of a threat of a harsher penalty. Deterrence is the strategy of preventing crime through the threat of punishment. It assumes that potential criminals will weigh the costs of punishment versus the benefits of the criminal act. It's a severe threat of punishment, and, in theory, the punishment is so great that the crime will not be committed. Although the punishment is high, some still choose to commit acts of violence.
For example, there are still a few people that commit murder even though they know the penalty may be death. Incapacitation is a strategy for preventing crime by detaining wrongdoers in prison, thereby separating them from the community and reducing criminal opportunities. If the criminal is not a member of society, that individual will not be able to cause anymore harm to others. This method, although it's effective, it costs the taxpayers a significant amount of money, whereas, deterrence is less effective and costs less.
I believe deterrence is used mostly in the American criminal justice system for the fact that it's more economical and prisons are overcrowded. Often, prisoners are released because there's simply no room. The United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois is a federal prison holding 1,267 inmates although the prison is currently made to hold 1,056 inmates, and, most of which are in there for drug, weapons, explosive, and arson offenses. Among these prisoners are a few well-known gangs, such as the Aryan Brotherhood, El Rukns, Mexican Mafia, and D. C. Blacks.
This prison was built in 1963 to replace Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco. In 1978, it was the highest security prison in the United States. Marion Prison is one of two Supermax Prisons in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, originally built to hold 500 prisoners. It was the holding place for Federal Bureau of Prisons' most dangerous prisoners. After guards were killed by the prisoners, Marion went into 'permanent lockdown' and turned into a 'control unit' prison. Prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for between twenty-two and twenty-three hours a day.
This routine remained from 1983 to 2006, when the prison began transformation to a medium security prison. The population then grew from 383 to 900. The prison also has a minimum security work camp. Although these prisons are secure, violence inside of these prisons does not change. In some reports, violence in supermax prisons, although designs have been 'upgraded', has stayed the same or in some cases, gone up. The history on this prison is intriguing, yet more should be done to prevent violence inside of these prisons, and more programs should be offered to the inmates.