Law of Corrections Course Essay Questions

Q1.  Discuss privatization of correctional institutions from the perspective of the following parties:

Inmates; Correctional officers; State department of correction Describe any pros and cons that exist for each.

Correctional facilities in the United States of America have come under scathing attacks from the human rights activists for failing to meet the goals and objectives they were established to achieve.  Correctional institutions are expected to initiate and implement programs in collaboration with the Department of Criminal Justice, which aims at reforming inmates and therefore making sure that inmates come out of those correctional institutions better than they entered.

Correctional institutions have been seen as failing to meet the goals and objectives of reforming inmates and therefore the only solution is the privatization of the correctional institutions.  For inmates, their goals and needs while in the correctional institutions is to be treated as human beings to the measure practical and necessary to be accorded dignified living standards and even to exercise their fundamental human rights. Inmates end up in the correctional institutions for committing different types of crimes and once they have been through the court process and eventually are sentenced to whatever kind of imprisonment, they desire to live in an enabling environment.

Inmates, some of them desire to change and revert from their previous ways.  Therefore, the laxity, corruption, inefficiency and lack of commitment to the betterment of inmates’ lives inside the correctional institutions leaves these inmates perplexed and often confused about their future.

Most inmates would view their predicament as being caused by the inefficiency and unprofessionalism demonstrated by most public correctional institutions.  Evidently, privatization of correctional institutions would bring about more efficiency in the way the affairs of the inmates are handled.  With privatization of the correctional institutions, there is bound to be a more professional manner of conducting business in the correctional institutions, all to the benefit of the inmates.

Correctional officers are responsible for the implementation of policies and programs of correctional institutions.  There has been a general public outcry about laxity, ineffectiveness and inefficiency exhibited by correctional officers serving in these correctional institutions.  Privatization of the correctional institutions is likely to face resistance from correctional officers who may view it as a threat to the status quo.  Indeed, correctional officers stand to lose their jobs if the correctional institutions are privatized.

What this therefore means is that correctional officers are uncomfortable with any move that is going to deprive them of their source of income.  Even if the correctional officers were to be maintained under the new privatization of correctional institutions they would still not be comfortable with such privatization considering the fact that private organizations conduct businesses in a rather different way from public organization.   This means that the correctional officers will have to change in their attitudes towards inmates and their job, the way they are used to doing things as well as performance.

The state department of correction is in charge of correctional institutions.  Like any other state department, the larger the responsibilities a state department is tasked with, the more funding it is likely to gain from federal government.  What therefore privatization of correctional institutions means for the state department of correction is that the department would lose a significant amount of funding from the federal government.  Evidently, the state department is very unlikely to welcome privatization of correctional institutions.

While it is true that detaching correctional institutions from state department is advantageous in that it will improve the efficiency of the correctional institutions, it would lead to better management as well as leading to achievement of the goals and objectives of correctional institutions, there are also disadvantages associated with detaching correctional institutions from state departments of correction and putting the correctional institutions under private organizations.

Possible disadvantages of detaching correctional institutions from the state departments would include the fact that correctional institutions are a sensitive part of judicial system and therefore it would be better if left to state control.  Secondly, private organizations may lack the resources required to handle the usually high numbers of inmates in the correctional institutions.  Lastly, in the event of mismanagement, there is bound to be a crisis in the criminal justice department, which is already riddled with accusations of inefficiency.

Q2.  Discuss in depth the various methods used in correctional facilities to maintain security (things like controlling the location and behaviour of inmates and their possession of contraband).  Be specific.  What are some ways in which technology is being used to accomplish these goals?

Correctional facilities are high security zones which must be under 24/7 security detail otherwise, inmates would break away and make it back to the community.  So as to ensure that security is maintained at maximum in the correctional facilities, the authorities in the correctional institutions put in place several measures.

Correctional facilities go to any measure to ensure that no inmates break away from the correctional institutions.  Constantly, security officers are briefed on how best to manage security in and around the correctional facilities.

Measures aimed at ensuring security include physical erection of barriers to deter inmates from escaping, psychological programs aimed at changing the behaviour of inmates to make sure that they appreciate and understand the importance of being in the correctional programs, curtailing the movement and socialization of inmates while in the prison, controlling and regulating the number of visitors inmates can have as well as vetting all visitors visiting inmates in the correctional facilities.

All the above are preventative measures which correctional facilities put in place to reduce the possibility of inmates escaping and not only that , but also to regulate the behaviour of inmates and minimize incidences of fights or other unbecoming behaviours happening inside the correctional facilities.  It is worth noting that the environment inside correctional facilities is unbearable for most inmates and as a result they turn wild and unruly and often incidences of violence break out.  This could be basis for security breaches and therefore the need for correctional officers to put in place security measures to control the situation inside the correctional facilities.

Behaviour of inmates is influenced by many factors such as peer influence, depression, high stress levels as well as a natural urge to commit crime.    But a very common cause of behaviour disruptions in the correctional facilities is the use of contrabands such as cocaine and marijuana.  therefore, as a security measure the correctional facilities ensure that there is limited or no flow of contrabands into correctional facilities as a way of controlling the behaviour of inmates.

Even if all of the above security methods were to be in place, implementing the measures is quite mechanistic without adoption of information technology.  It is for this reason that correctional facilities have invested heavily in technology in areas such as surveillance, whereby surveillance vehicles are used to monitor movement and behaviour of inmates.

Technology is also used to detect visitors who carry into the correctional facilities weapons and other illegal goods which must not get into the hands of the inmates.  In addition, technology has been applied in the correctional facilities in the way of having in place alarm systems and sirens which can detect and raise alarm within seconds of a problem being detected inside the correctional facilities.  Such alarm systems are useful because they enable correctional officers to act promptly and prevent damage.

Q3.  Discuss and critique each of the following in terms of the role they play with respect to rehabilitation of offenders and the integration into the community:

(Furloughs); Treatment programs; and Educational programs Furloughs play a great role in giving inmates an opportunity to relax from the containment environment in the correctional facilities.  Since depression and stress levels amongst offenders held in correctional facilities is likely to lead to unrest and misbehaving, furloughs have been viewed as an opportunity for the offenders to exercise a degree of freedom. Indeed, furloughs are recommendable in that they help in the integration process of offenders back to the community.  Without furloughs, offenders may never actually change but on the contrary, they may develop negative attitude towards the rehabilitation process.  Furloughs, therefore, are an important avenue for offenders to reintegrate with the society.

Treatment programs play a critical role in the rehabilitation process of offenders.  Treatment programs are based on the philosophy that some crimes are motivated by medical conditions of the offenders rather than choice to commit crime.  For instance, the mentally ill could resort into criminal behaviour which is not entirely their own making but is to some degree motivated by their medical conditions.  In such cases, when such offenders are in the correctional facilities, treatment programs become an integral part of the rehabilitation process.  All efforts to rehabilitate offenders suffering from some medical conditions would fail unless treatment programs are effective in the correctional facilities.

In some cases, offenders resort into criminal behaviour under the influence of drugs.  When such offenders end up in the correctional facilities, they should be subjected to treatment programs to help them deal with the drug abuse problem. Otherwise, if treatment programs are not included in the rehabilitation process, what this therefore means is that such offenders would have a problem in the process of reintegrating them back into the community as they are likely to pursue their drug behaviour and will still remain vulnerable to repeating criminal behaviour.

Educational programs are very important in the rehabilitation of offenders as well as the eventual reintegration of the offenders into the community.  This is especially in regard to juvenile offenders. Considering the fact that juveniles end up in the rehabilitation centers in the midst of their education, there is a need to ensure that they do not halt their studies on account of being in correctional facilities.

Indeed, if such juveniles are let out of the correctional facilities without being educated, they would have a problem in integrating back into the community considering the fact that they are likely to be viewed negatively by the society due to their low educational background.  Therefore, educational programs play very integral roles in the lives of inmates.

Educational programs are not only useful to the juveniles but are also equally important to the adult offenders because inside the correctional facilities, moments of anxiety and idleness arise and many a times offenders are in need of something to keep themselves busy.  For those who love learning they find pleasure in the educational programs and indeed this is one way of having peaceful correctional facilities as offenders will be engaged in activities they consider as useful in their lives.

Educational programs are likely to enhance chances of offenders adapting a positive attitude to the rehabilitation process as they may start considering or viewing their stay in the rehabilitation centers as a gain rather than a loss in their lives.  The reintegration back into the community therefore becomes easy and something that the offenders look up to as they are likely to be presented with many job opportunities once they come out of rehabilitation centers with more knowledge and skills.

Q4.  Describe atleast four ways in which females have been treated differently from males by the criminal justice system—either before or during incarceration.  Do you think that male and female offenders should always be treated exactly the same?  Explain your position fully.

The debate as to whether male and female offenders should be treated the same way by the criminal justice system has been ongoing for quite some time.  First of all, males and females are treated differently during the arresting and interrogation process.  Police are more likely to use discretion while dealing with females than they are when dealing with males.

Police tend to be hard on males and often resort into hard tactics to deduce evidence and confessions from male offenders than they are likely to use force when dealing with female offenders.  Secondly, incarceration periods for men are characterized by high security details comparing to incarceration periods of females.  This indicates that males are viewed as more likely to cause trouble during incarceration than females, hence an indication of preferential treatment of females compared to males.

The difference in the way females and males are treated is also evident in the way male offenders are subjected to rigorous random checks and inspections while in prison as prison officers perceive them to be dangerous and view them as more likely to make attempts to escape from prison.

The other way in which females have been treated differently from males is that the criminal justice system has been treating female offenders with more empathy as there is a general tendency amongst criminal justice officers to look at female offenders as not deserving the punishment they are subjected to.  This has brought up the question of unequal treatment for offenders who have committed equally serious crimes and is a cause of investigation because empathy shown towards the female offenders is likely to interfere with the criminal justice procedures.

Lastly, females have been treated differently from males in the way the larger society looks at women offenders.  There is usually a sense of unfairness directed to females offenders by the media and public who treat female offenders as unacceptable and totally wrong while they look at male offenders as normal and to some extent they do not have a problem with male offenders but they criticize female offenders, something which is a great source of gender discrepancy in the criminal justice system.

  In my opinion, male and female offenders should always be treated exactly the same way because crime is crime and the effect of criminal activities perpetuated by either males or females are the same.

If females are going to be treated lightly because of their gender, this may encourage a rise in the number of females engaging in criminal activities because they are sure to be treated with leniency by the criminal justice system.

Q5.  Describe and discuss one of the following challenges faced by the correctional institutions: (1) rape in male prisons or (2) the challenge of elderly inmates.  What can be done to deal with this?

Rape in the male prisons has become rampant in the recent past and it is a cause of worry for a number of reasons such as in this era of HIV/AIDS rape in male prisons is likely to result into high incidences of HIV/AIDS related cases in the prisons.  This is bound to have financial implications in the correctional institutions who will be faced with the additional burden of taking care of the HIV/AIDS patients.

The rape in the prisons is also a cause for worry because it is likely to lead to public outcry and lack of confidence in the ability of correctional institutions to meet their goals and objectives.  Thirdly, rape in male prisons is likely to cause discomfort amongst prisoners and therefore result into high likelihood of criminal behaviour, something which beats the logic of the purpose of correctional institutions.  The solution to the rape in male prisons lies in increased surveillance and monitoring to single out perpetrators of rape so as to put them in isolated cells and prevent spread of rape incidences.

Another measure include ejecting those males who show a high sexual urge with drugs to reduce their sexual activity.  Lastly, there should be arrangements for spouses and girlfriends of the offenders to be allowed to visit their partners in the prisons so as to help the male prisoners to satisfy their sexual desires.  In this way, they will not have a need to rape their male counterparts.

Q6.  On page 349 of our text, there is a list of 6 strategies of preventing and reducing at-risk behaviour and juvenile delinquency, proposed by the US office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  From this list, choose two strategies that you believe offer the most hope of solving the problem of juvenile delinquency.  Describe each and then defend your position.

Strengthening families in their role of providing guidance, discipline and strong values to their children as first teachers is an effective strategy of preventing and reducing at-risk behaviour and juvenile delinquency. Indeed, the child spends most of the time with the family and the growth and development process of the child is highly influenced by the family.  If the child observes negative behavior and practices amongst the family members such as drug abuse and violence, such a child is likely to grow up practicing what is practices in the house.

Children are often attracted to evil and if the parents fail in their role to guide the children in choosing what is right and wrong and making the right decisions, such children are likely to grow up without proper values and this will result into juvenile delinquency.  Children are not responsible enough to understand consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the family members to offer guidance and interpret for the children the consequences of the decisions and actions they take.  Therefore, it is clearly evident that the family plays a very important role in the prevention of juvenile delinquency and at-risk behaviour amongst juveniles.

If the war against juvenile delinquency is to be won, then social institutions such as schools, churches and other community based organizations have to be supported in terms of resource allocation and funding so that they may be able to offer effective children programs aimed at addressing the problem of juvenile delinquency.  The role of such institutions is very core to the success of preventing juvenile delinquency in that these institutions are where juveniles spend most of their time and therefore they can significantly contribute in helping children to shun delinquency behaviour and adapt correct behaviour leading to the achievement of their full potential.

Q8.  Discuss the death penalty as a punishment in terms of the extent to which it satisfies (or fails to satisfy) the following goals/philosophies of punishment: (1) retribution; (2) deterrence; (3) incapacitation; and (4) rehabilitation.

Death penalty as a punishment has come under fierce criticism for failing to satisfy some of the goals/philosophies it aims at satisfying.  Retribution as a goal of death penalty is based on the philosophy that it serves to repay the offender with an equal measure of damage or pain as that inflicted on the victim.  Retribution is largely ineffective as a goal of punishment because punishing for the sake of making the offender experience what the victim experienced does not help in the fight against crime.

Deterrence as a goal of death penalty, is aimed at preventing potential criminals from engaging in crime.  Deterrence philosophy assumes that by potential criminals seeing what has happened to capital offenders, they are likely to change mind in fear of undergoing the same. It is also based on the fact that eliminating offenders will rid the community of crime.  This is only hypothetical as factors which cause criminal behaviours are very many and only doing away with criminals will not mean that there will be no incidences of crime in the society.

Incapacitation as a goal of punishment is aimed at making sure that the community is safer since it emphasizes on depriving offenders of the ability and capacity of crime recurrence.  Momentarily, incapacitation serves to prevent crime but in the long run, causes of crime are so many that incapacitation alone cannot reduce crime incidences.

Rehabilitation as a goal of punishment works wonderfully in that if the correctional facilities are well managed, offenders come out of the rehabilitation changed and willing to abide by societal norms and are less likely to engage in repeat crime.  Therefore, rehabilitation is the best option in terms of achieving the goals of punishment because it gives offenders a chance to reform.