The United States has the highest rate of recidivism around the world. While the US government has various programs to address the recidivism of offenders, there is much room left for the improvement of the corrections system. The US prison system needs to focus more on the rehabilitation of inmates and the improvement of corrections facilities for the protection of the community and the prisoners themselves. The United States Prison System In the United States, both the state and federal governments operate prisons and jails.
Imprisonment is a form of punishment for people who commit felonies around the country. Prisons have different security levels, from minimum security facilities that hold nonviolent offenders to maximum-security units that house dangerous terrorists and criminals. Cities, counties and states operate many prisons to hold people that await judiciary actions or serve sentences (Whitfield, et. al. , 1991, p. 5). Prisons are generally different from jails. A prison refers to a facility that hold convicted felons.
These are people who have sentences that are more than a year because of the crimes they commit. Jails or “lock-ups” are reserved for nonviolent or less violent offenders who have sentences of less than a year. Individuals who await trial and other judiciary actions are also typically held in county jails in the US. Most cities and states have small jails for incarcerating people for short periods of time. Individuals can be incarcerated from seventy-two business hours to five days. The prisoner then attends a hearing or receives summons for him to be transferred to another larger facility.
In addition, the US federal government has detention centers in urbanized areas typically near courthouses to house defendants who appear in court. One problem with some small city and county jails is that they don’t classify detainees. They neglect the prisoner’s type of offense and other factors that might influence his behavior during incarceration. This is very dangerous because even though some of these jails closely watch detainees to prevent violence, some have prisoners locked up in the same cell, disregarding their types of offense (Whitfield, et. al.
, 1991, p. 5). Other jails in the United States are sufficiently large with different levels of security for the protection of the prisoners and staff. For instance, the Cook County jail has 11 divisions, including cells that are like dormitories and more secured cells with complete lockdown. Some states, like California, segregate their prisoners by gender, ethnicity, and race to prevent violence before they are transferred to other facilities. Prisons vary by their levels of security, housing type, management of prisoners, and tactics employed by prison officers.
The US Bureau of Prisons measures the security level of a prison through a scale of one to five, with one being the least secure and five being the most secure. For instance, California has facilities ranging from level one to five, with level five prisons being reserved for the most dangerous offenders. County jails or detention centers where inmates await summons for trials typically have high levels of security to ensure that prisoners will be transferred to larger institutions safely (Whitfield, et. al. , 1991, p. 5).
Level five prisons are called supermax because of their high level of security. These facilities house the most dangerous prisoners in the country. Prisoners in supermax prisons typically have felonies consisting of murders and other types of assault on fellow prisoners in lower level prisons. Gang members are also held in supermax facilities because they are generally more likely to assault fellow inmates. Level-one prisons are reserved for nonviolent prisoners who pose little risk to their fellow inmates, staff, and to the public.
Inmates are held in dormitories that are patrolled by prison officers. These facilities have communal sinks, toilets and showers. Armed prison guards typically do not patrol the fence of a level one prison, although they do watch it, sometimes using a camera. Level-one prisons are also typically located near larger prisons, military bases, and other institutions to provide them with labor. Some of these prisons even allow internet access to inmates, so they can connect with the world outside (Whitfield, et. al. , 1991, p. 5).