By Isis Hunterman
Prisons play a crucial role in the criminal justice system, serving multiple purposes for society. One of the primary objectives of prisons is retribution, punishing individuals for the crimes they have committed. By depriving people of their liberty for a specific period, the hope is that it acts as a deterrent, discouraging potential offenders from engaging in criminal activities.
In addition to retribution, prisons also serve as a means of incapacitation. By removing individuals deemed as criminals from society, prisons aim to protect the public from the harm they might pose. This approach ensures that dangerous and violent criminals are kept away from communities, reducing the immediate threat they may pose.
Deterrence is another crucial function of prisons. The idea is that the experience of incarceration will deter individuals from committing further offences upon their release. However, the effectiveness of prison as a deterrent is a topic of debate, as many individuals who have served time in prison end up reoffending. This raises questions about the efficacy of prison as a deterrent and highlights the need to explore alternative approaches to crime prevention.
One aspect that contributes to crime is the presence of various societal factors. Poverty and unemployment, for instance, can lead to frustration among the working class, pushing some individuals towards criminal behaviour as they struggle to achieve their goals legitimately. Drug and alcohol use, peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, and limited educational opportunities also contribute to the likelihood of engaging in criminal activities.
When examining the prison population, it becomes evident that men are disproportionately represented. This overrepresentation can be attributed, in part, to toxic masculinity and societal pressures that encourage men to adopt aggressive or criminal behaviours. However, it is essential to recognize that this is a complex issue influenced by a range of factors that extend beyond gender stereotypes.
Similarly, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are overrepresented in the prison population. Systemic racism within the criminal justice system has led to biases and discrimination, perpetuating the overrepresentation of these groups. Stereotypes, prejudices, and differential treatment by prison officers have further contributed to this issue. Addressing these systemic issues and promoting equality within the criminal justice system is crucial for reducing the disproportionate representation of BAME individuals in prisons.
Understanding why people reoffend is another crucial aspect of the prison population and crime. Breaking the cycle of reoffending is essential for reducing crime rates and promoting rehabilitation. Currently, reoffending costs society billions of pounds each year. Incentivizing rehabilitation within prisons can be one effective approach. This may involve reinforcing good behaviour by allowing prisoners additional time to see family members through technologies like Skype and facilitating work opportunities through release on temporary licences.
Assisting prisoners in acquiring job-related skills, finding employment, and providing access to mental and physical health treatments are critical factors in reducing recidivism rates. Additionally, maintaining strong support networks and providing adequate support for individuals reintegrating into society after incarceration can help break the cycle of reoffending.
Spending time in prison has profound effects on individuals. Drug addiction often persists within prison walls, with the prison environment providing an ideal market for drugs. The rise of cheap psychiatric substances like spice has exacerbated the drug problem in prisons. The incidents of self-harm among inmates have also increased significantly, highlighting the mental health challenges faced by prisoners.
Moreover, the impact of imprisonment extends beyond the individual’s serving time. Families, particularly those living in poverty, bear the financial and emotional burdens of having a loved one incarcerated. Overcrowding, poor prison conditions, and inadequate access to basic services and rehabilitation programs further contribute to the human rights violations experienced by inmates.
It is clear that the prison population and crime are complex issues with multiple contributing factors. Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on rehabilitation, reducing societal factors