Different issues that might change sentencing
In this essay, we shall answer four questions regarding the correctional systems in the United States, specifically in the state of Pennsylvania. We shall compare and contrast two prison models and discuss different issues that might change sentencing.
1. Provide the justifications for punishment in modern society.
Sociologically speaking, punishment should be sufficient deterrent for the prospective offenders but history has shown this is not the case (Garland, 1991). Although the purposes of punishment have changed over the course of history, modern societies’ reasons to punish have not changed much throughout the years (Siegels & Bartollas, 2014). For instance, although most modern punishments do not imply pain, offenders are locked down in prisons to prevent further crimes or the offender’s contact with society. According to Siegels and Bartollas (2014), the justifications for punishment are the following: a) Punishment teaches a lesson. Offenders learn through punishment that their actions are not permissible in our society; b) punishment shows the public outrage. The sentences serve as a reparation to the offended parts; c) discipline helps to maintain the social structure. By removing offenders from the streets, the social structure remains safe; d) Punishment is deserved. The modern legal system only convicts those who have committed a crime.
2. Compare and contrast the Pennsylvania prison model with the Auburn Silent System
Auburn silent system was a penal system put to use from 1825 to the mid-twentieth century ((Siegels & Bartollas, 2014). The system incorporated Quaker ideals of humane conditions; bedding and health care for the prisoners. The prisoners stood side by side during the day, but returned to solitary confinement during the nighttime (McShane & Williams, 2004) The Auburn system emphasized the unpleasant experience of incarceration as a way to deter reoffenders. Inmates were not allowed to sit down nor lie during daytime, and the system emphasized solitude and silence as a way to maintain discipline among inmates.
Pennsylvania model, influenced by the writings of John Howard, a British penal theorist considered that the prison experience itself would prove a deterrent to felons and believed they needed spiritual counseling to improve and stop committing crimes. Like the Auburn system, prisoners were in solitary confinement and thick walls prevented further communications between inmates as if seclusion would eventually lead them to recognize their crimes and follow the path of repentance (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2006). The system considered inmates should not have contact with each other, and not even in chapel services they could see each other (Siegel & Bartollas, 2014). The system proved successful but after a while the prisons began to crowd, and solitary confinement was not possible, which changed the purpose of the prison
3. List and define the four elements of the correctional system
According to Siegel and Bartollas (2014), there are four components of the correctional system. 1) Probation: this part of the system refers to those inmates who are can be an outside prison but are required to follow a particular set of rules of conduct and constant supervision while in the community. 2) Parole: After a period of incarceration, individuals whose behavior during prison time has been good enough are entitled to leave the prison and be free to the community after a period of incarceration. 3) Jail: As its name indicates, Jail is a correctional facility that holds people awaiting sentence. Jail time usually lasts less than a year until prisoners are transferred to a state facility or set free. 4) Prison: Prison is a state or federal facility that houses convicted criminals who are sentenced to a period superior to a year.
4. How do each of the following effect sentencing: social class, gender, and age?
Social Class: It is said that most of the offenders come from the poorest sectors of the population. Strictly speaking, most of the inmates come from poor households and are subject to inequality ranging from difficulties to find employment to psychological problems related to their social extraction (Western & Pettit, 2010). These disadvantages make people find different income sources and end up incarcerated.
Gender: While prisons remain largely a male affair, the percentage of female inmates have been growing steadily. From 1995, the proportion of women in correctional systems has grown a 50-percent, while the male interest has grown a 33-percent (Siegel & Bartollas, 2014). This means that although most offenders are male, female offender proportion is growing, and the correctional and legal system should change to address that increase.
Age: According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (2015), the majority of inmates are of ages 26 to 46, while the smallest percentage of prisoners are from 26 to 18. This means that the correctional systems are graying. The offenders are becoming older, and the proportion of young inmates is decreasing. This could mean that the youngest parts of the population are being deterred, and they choose not to partake on crimes. This indicates that the strategies taken by the federal government are working, and people are choosing not to commit crimes and go to prison.
Federal Bureau of Prisons. (2015). Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_age.jsp
Garland, D. (1991). Sociological Perspectives on Punishment. Crime and Justice, 14, 115-165. Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://www.umass.edu/legal/Benavides/Fall2005/397G/Readings Legal 397 G/8 David Garland.pdf
McShane, M. (2004). Encyclopedia of American prisons (2nd ed.). New York: Garland Pub.
Siegel, L., & Bartollas, C. (2014). Corrections today (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Pennsylvania Prison Society Records. (2006). Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://hsp.org/sites/default/files/legacy_files/migrated/findingaid1946prisonsociety.pdf
Western, B., & Pettit, B. (2010). Incarceration and Social Inequality. Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://ussc.edu.au/s/media/docs/publications/1006_Inequality_Western.pdf