For centuries governments have acted on behalf of society removing and punishing criminals with the goal of protecting its citizens. Criminals were arrested and locked-up in jails awaiting their sentencing. Once sentenced, they were publically humiliated, tortured, or killed. Early forms punishments were cruel and mostly focused on retribution.
State and Federal objectives of punishment
Today punishment is the most dominant correctional goal of both the state and federal government in response to criminality. The purpose of punishment is to protect society, rehabilitate criminal offenders, and reduce recidivism. In both the state and federal correctional institutions, their objectives are to use punishment as form deterrence while incapacitating and, rehabilitating offenders. For punishment to be successful it must be so unpleasant that it will hopefully deter inmates from reverting to such life and also deter others from taking part in such activities. In response to the growing public concern over criminality, politicians have adopted a Tough on Crime approach when dealing with law breakers, and have pushed for new legislation to keep criminal offenders from further harming or terrorizing society. Citizens believe that it is only fair that criminal pay for their actions and get what they deserve. These new legislations have set sentencing requirements for different offences, which can be found in the state’s penal code.
In the past judges had more discretion when handing down sentences, but most recently they have been encouraged to follow the sentencing guidelines found in their state’s penal codes. Prior to sentencing offenders judges are required to choose from a range of mandatory sentencing options set by state and federal legislators. These options rage from obligating judges to impose a mandatory minimum sentence for certain crimes, to the enforcement of the three strike laws, whereby inmates would be sentenced to life behind bars if convicted of a third offence after having been released twice before. These measures were taken to ensure public safety but are now posing a problem for our correctional facilities. Overcrowding and budgets are among the problems brought about by these measures. Both the state and federal correctional population throughout the United States have steadily seen significant increases in their population, every year for the past decades. Based on the census found on the Bureau of Justice website, the data collected between June 30th 2000 to December 30th 2005 showed that prisoners held in custody between federal and state prisons increased by 10%. (“Bureau of Justice Statistics”, p.1 -2)
These increases are caused by a rise in recidivism, the lengthening of prison sentence, a decrease in of parole. This has also created budget issues for the operation and the expansions of correctional facilities across America. Prisons are filled beyond their capacities, and the staff is not...