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T His Essay Is About American Prison Reform, The Many Changes, As Well As Both Sides Of The Issue D Oes It Need To Be Reformed? It Also Concludes And Solves The Issue.

2122 words - 8 pages

"Once an individual has been convicted of a criminal offence the government has the right to administer a sanction." (Criminal Justice, p. 209) While this may be anything from a fine to incarceration, in the past century imprisonment has been the favored option. During the 1960's and 70's when there was little emphasis on the prison system and incarceration, crime rates soared. Yet by the mid-1970's when the prison population increased along with the number of sentences given, crime rates dropped dramatically. These statistics show that there is a clear connection between a rise in imprisonment and a decrease in crime, yet people still a question whether prisons are effective. Except the debate should not be if prisons are effective, more accurately how can prisons be made more effective. Whereas the American Prison System has changed dramatically since the early 20th century, the system is still in dire need of reform.A few of the major changes that have taken place since the early 1900's are professionalization of prisons, the classification of inmates, halfway houses, inmate programs (such as education and the notorious weight lifting), and strict rules and judicial supervision. The first of which, and perhaps the most altering was professionalization. Throughout the 20th century the prison system became more formal, and advanced into a specialized field of study and practice. There were four key factors for this change. Organizations like the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) helped create standards and provided expert authority. Also many prison employees were chosen due to their qualifications, versus political favor. The other two factors were the development as criminal justice and corrections as a field of study, and more meticulous training for all correctional employees. Thus the correctional facilities became more significant and effective as forms of punishment. Other changes such as the separation of inmates (by gender, age, severity or their crime, mental health, as well as behavior in prison), the forming of halfway houses (aid for newly released prisoners) and parole assistance, more severe rules and regulation or the prisons, and even the environment for the prisoners, helped advance the prison system into the 21st century. Regardless of the fact the prisons have "evolved during the past 100 years ? significantly and for the better" (Roberts, p. 15), many improvements can still be made.A change in the prison environment itself is one of the most significant and most important change needed of the entire penitentiary structure. In 1973 a psychological experiment was completed by Craig Haney and Philip Zimbardo with a group of psychologically healthy, normal, and mentally sound college students. These subjects were placed in a prison like atmosphere for six days. By the end of the testing period these otherwise emotionally stable students began to exhibit emotional suffering...

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