What’s Wrong with Americas Prisons

It’s a harsh reality how disgraceful America’s prison system is these days, but did you know that many prisons in the system are actually a byproduct of CCA or Correction Corps of America.  The CCA sets up management programs that include everything from building design, health care and even inmate activities. They have a finger on the pulse of prison operations all the way from maximum-security penitentiaries on down to county jails. Even inmate transportation and reconfiguration of overcrowding often goes through CCA offices.

With so much invested in the quality of correctional facilities why then, you might wonder, is the recidivism rate for inmates still so high—Statistics show nearly two thirds of all released felons return to prison within a year after their release—After all shouldn’t the aim of prison be to rehabilitate criminal behaviors so inmates, those who are to be released anyway, can transition back into the community and become productive members of society?

In bygone years, prisons were thought to be a place for punishment only. Inmates were humiliated, left in dark damp cells for hours on end and fed a steady diet of food loaves three times a day. They weren’t even allowed to own basic hygiene items like soap or toothpaste. In addition, as late as 1900 some inmates were even “spanked,” with a rubber hose for misbehavior.

 A new think tank came up with the idea of rehabilitation and education as the key to getting these kinds of criminals back on track. Penitentiaries soon became communities complete with schools and on-sight factories or farmland. Soon prison became a big business venture and an opportunity for civilian job and wealth in predominantly white small towns on the verge of destruction in the late 90’s. After President Reagan declared, a war on drugs there was a booming need for new correctional facilities to house the growing number of drug related incarcerations the judges handed down.

In the early 2000, a new problem developed within most Illinois prisons and soon spread throughout the USA when inmates formed gang affiliations among themselves. With the dangers involved, many of the rehabilitation programs fell by the wayside. Now the segregation of gangs among inmates has led to increased crime within the very facilities designed to curb the criminal behaviors. In fact, today gangs can be said to have control over most of the prison systems we know today. Weakening the authority of wardens, and guards to the point of mere survival. In the meantime, taxpayers foot the bill to house these rabble-rousers.

If CCA wants to continue a profitable program in the coming years, they must insist on a bylaw of expectations from both the inmate community and the federal outfitters with whom they set up shop. Get back to demanding that the inmates run a self-sufficient community within their walls. One that both pays their debt to society and provides for their own keep along with provisions for their families, whom they have harmed in their criminal behaviors. Educate not only the inmates in life skills and general education, but also the staff in mediation and assessment of human behaviors so they can get a grip on the reigns and lead rather than be dragged by the horse.

But most of all its time to overhaul the criminal justice system. I’m talking about judges who hand down unreasonable sentences without considering the outcome. For instance consider this: an entire family including a 76 year old grandmother was sentenced  a few years ago to twenty four years, no chance for parole for selling crack to drug abusers. In another courtroom nearby a CIA spy who sold out our country got the same sentence with time off for good behavior.

In America 1 in 31 men and 1 in approximately 56 women will find themselves, sentence to jail sometime this year. Many of them for drug charges or domestic violence. It seems to me that either we have really turned wicked in this country or someone has gotten a little too trigger happy with the gavel.

America’s prison system is a joke from where I stand. A prison should not be a place anyone would want to be in his or her lifetime. It should be a place where criminal behavior ends, not trains. Inmates should be assisted only in earning their way through hard work, especially those who have made prison their home. They should be required to pay their taxes and provide for their families. Jail on the other hand should be a temporary situation that houses minor infractions like drug abuse. A place that educates with both job and life skills. A place of rehabilitation so people will leave with the knowledge of having earned the right to re-enter society.  I don’t blame CCA for these problems. After all they didn’t create the demand they just supply a product based on regulations and law. But then again it can’t hurt to put this at their door step to brood over.