Prison As A Last Resort Essay

2377 words - 10 pages

To detain a person you are depriving them of their personal liberty (Findlay et al, 2000). The detention or imprisonment of offenders has been a consequence used for a variety of offences in society for hundreds of years. In recent times it has become such a frequently relied upon consequence that significant overcrowding in prisons has resulted (Findlay et al, 2000). In the 1990’s new implementations of rehabilitation were introduced to help ease the overcrowding in prisons. At this time, prison was utilised to the extent that the Queensland government adopted a strategy of “prison as a last resort”(Cavadino & Dignan 2006). There are many pros and cons in using this strategy. This essay will consider both the pros and cons of this policy and in so doing consider the implications of the policy for youth and adult offenders in Australia. It will explore the emphasis whether or not the use of detention or imprisonment is the best procedure. Furthermore, the essay will consider the history of imprisonment in terms of the crime rate and whether “prison as a last resort” has significantly impacted on these rates.

Historically, previous fines and punishments would be decided by the tribal leader or king who could prescribe exile to the wrongdoer (Allen & Simonsen, 1992). The most common form of punishment over the centuries has been the death penalty. In recent times the form of imprisonment has evolved. The term imprisonment is when some one is held against there free will, in the old days it was also until there punishment had been decided. In the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century saw the growth of prisons (Allen & Simonsen, 1998).

The main aim of detention or imprisonment for an adult offender is for questioning and to gain further information to be used in the event of a trial. Detention for a juvenile is used when the offender is under 18 years and can not be tried as an adult. The difference between juvenile and adult justice system is that the juvenile system caters for the juveniles needs, it looks beyond the crime that they have committed and looks more at what has brought him/her here as an individual (McCord, Widom, Crowell, 2001).

Detention centres are like prisons in that they deprive a person of their personal liberty (Findlay, Odgers & Yeo, 2000). As with imprisonment of adults, this is intended to be a deterrent but it is also used as an avenue to rehabilitate offenders. Rehabilitation is facilitated by the offering of courses, to help the offender address his/her behaviour which society has labelled as “wrong” or inappropriate (Peterson, 1989; Shaffer, 1993). Therefore, a con of the strategy may be that the offenders are unable to access course that could assist them in rehabilitation. Another purpose of the detention centre for young people may be to shock them through the use of a military structure and to try and impress on them that they have done wrong (Munice, Hughes & McLaughlin 2002).

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