A prison is a place where convicted criminals are confined for correctional purposes. It is where inmates are given time to reform their behaviors and also to revert back to being productive members of the society.
How my understanding of prison life has changed
Life in prison has always been viewed as desperate and only belonging to those who the society has condemned and removed from amongst good members of the society. The prison has always been perceived to be a place where convicted criminals are severely punished and made to pay for their bad deeds. I also had a perception that prisoners are those whose rights human rights have been suspended and hence does not enjoy right enjoyed by those living outside prison. However, after learning the course, I have been able to learn that the prison life is not all about my earlier perception. I have learnt that instead of being punished, it is a place where convicted criminals are being corrected in terms of behaviors before being reintegrated back to the society. I have also come to realize that the prisoners are not necessarily social outcast; they are individuals whose behavioral traits requires remodeling so that when they are reintegrated back into the society they do not contravene the laws or become antisocial with regards to illegal activities.
I have also come to learn that prisoners do not totally lose all their constitutional rights; in fact the only right they seem to have temporarily lost is the right and freedom of movement, especially those serving definite years in prison. Besides, I have also come to realize that prisoners are not only serving their sentences as punishments for their contravention of laws, but are also offered various services like occupational training, psychological counseling and are also allowed to engage in other social activities that are crucial in engaging their talents and expertise. Also important is the fact that I have learnt that prisoners are given some life skills that will enable to be productive once they are reintegrated back into the society.
The policies that might aid in an inmates adjustment to prison
Normally, the prison life has always been viewed as too much confining and is actually not like any other place within the society. The first experience of prison life to a newly convicted prisoner may some time prove to be psychologically torturing and hence the prisoner may experience more harm than the intended correction. In order to help a prisoner to adapt to prison life, there are a number of policies that can be implemented. These policies are;
- At the time of admission into prison after conviction, the prisoners should be assured that they are not condemned to any form of suffering but a correctional period. The prisoners should be assured that the prison is not meant to cause them any harm but to give them time to change their criminal traits before being released back into the society;
- Respects amongst prisoners must be considered paramount; they must be seen as human beings and need to be accorded all requirements of human dignity;
- There should be a counseling department where inmates scan seek psychological counseling in case they may personally need such services;
- Inmate should be allowed to be visited by their family members and spouses to share moments together;
- All forms of torture and mistreatment to inmates by either prison warders or fellow inmates should be considered serious criminal offenses bearing severe actions and possible increased jail term in the case of inmates;
- All inmates should be considered equal and be provided with basic needs. Besides, all inmates should be allowed to live lives consistent with their individual background which may be religious, cultural or racial, but only as long as such practices are not nuisance to the prison fraternity and other inmates.
- The police officer officers are not supposed to misuse their authority in the process of handling inmates (Murphy & Worrall, 2007)
How an inmate’s need for respect, hope and safety contribute to correctional policy
It is important to realize that inmates are not outcasts in the society. There presence in prison or correctional facilities does not deny them all the fundamental human rights. They still need to be respected and their security ensured even as if they undergo correctional process. These are what need to inform correctional policy otherwise the correctional process may fail to achieve its mission and objective.
One fact to remember is that the correctional facilities are meant to remold the inmates into law abiding citizens; this means the inmates are expected to be once again rejoin the other members of the society and be productive towards nation building. With this information in mind, it is therefore important to have correctional policies that will ensure they are secure, respected and given hope that the society has not yet completely rejected them.
Moreover, it is crucial to note that rights and freedoms enjoyed by all citizens and residents are well spelt in the constitution; the constitution is also clear on how inmates should be handled and treated. Some of the rights inmates have as human beings are security and respect (Gravett, 2000). Therefore, it is paramount that all correctional policies should recognize all these rights and freedom. In addition, correction of inmates entails training then on the need to respect others and ensure they do not threaten the security of others; but for they also expects the same from other people in the society. Hence, to there is need to make it practical within the prison system and this can be achieved by according them security and respect and encouraging them to have hope in life instead to considering themselves outcasts in the society.
In a nut shell, the mere fact that the inmates are expected to be reintegrated back into the society and function normally just like any other member of the society, they should be treated like human being and seen as citizens who are still productive in the society. Due to these reasons, it is important that correctional policies should not just address the need to protect the society but also their plights (Heidelbaugh, 2007).
What changes correctional policy that should be implemented in the various correctional facilities, state or federal
There are a number of changes that may be appropriate to be made in the correctional policies in various correctional facilities. It is important to note that not all inmates are in prison for one reason. There are various criminal acts for which each or some of them might have been convicted of; one of such crime is due to lack of basic needs. With regards to this, the inmates who are released back into the society are supposed to be financially supported by the government to help them transit from prison life to living normal life amongst other members of the society.
Again, it has always been believed that prisoners are not good people; for this reason, once somebody has passed through prison the society has ways of stigmatizing them and this may drive them back into continuing with there criminal activities (Taylor et al, 2005). This notion is in consistence with the theory of association where an individual may get into doing what he or she is stigmatized to do or associated with. In order to avoid all these, it will be important to have a policy of publicly recommending to the general members of the society that the released inmates are behaviorally reformed at the time of realize. This will give confidence to the public and ease reintegration process.
The correctional policies should allow inmates to be released to pass through a halfway center where they are monitored and certified to have actually reformed. In this case, the inmates are put to live in the halfway centers, which should not be within prison premises, as they are allowed to go out to engage in their activities. This should be for a given period and the inmates should be released upon proving that they are ready to be reintegrated back into the society. Besides, the inmates should be made to swear publicly that they have been completely transformed and will never engage in criminal activities again (Kleiman & Hawken, 2008).
Why people become criminals
There are many reasons people become criminals. According to labeling theory, an individual may become a criminal if he or she is associated with crime or referred to as a criminal even though he or she may not be. Again, one may become a criminal due to peer pressure, especially young people. One may be forced to get into criminal activities simply because his or her friends are doing such activities. Economic factors are very significant for one to become a criminal; an individual may want to acquire property or may not be financially in a position to acquire such a property or product. In this case, one may become a criminal in order to satisfy his or her economic needs (Samenow, 2004).
It is also important to note that being a criminal may be genetic. There are those who inherit certain criminal traits from parents; such individuals are likely to develop into becoming career criminals; in this case, it may not be easy to rehabilitate such a criminal. This implies that commission of crime by an individual may be hereditary. Looking at the lineage of a criminal may reveal that some of the relatives had been criminals in the past (Samenow, 2004).
Crime is defined by the constitution and what is a criminal activity at one time may not be other times. It therefore implies that when one engages in an activity that was formerly not criminal, that person may be constitutionally considered a criminal. So, one may become a criminal simply by change of law. For example, an individual who may be legally engaged in sales of elephant tasks may be a criminal if she or he still do the same business after the law is changed to prohibit trade in elephant tasks (Samenow, 2004).
It is important to note that prisons are not meant to keep outcasts in the society. The inmates are still human beings and are only being rehabilitated in order to make them accepted back into the society. This facilitates the formulation of correctional policies that will ensure they are not disregarded as completely non-productive in the society.
Gravett, S. (2000). Coping With Prison. New York: SAGE.
Heidelbaugh, J. (2007). Clinical men’s health: evidence in practice. United States: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Kleiman, M. & Hawken, A. (2008). Fixing the parole system, Issues in Science and Technology 24(4)45. United States of America: (not indicated).
Murphy, D. & Worrall, L. (2007). The threat of mission distortion in police-probation partnerships. U.S.A: University of Texas.
Samenow, S. (2004). Inside the criminal mind. United States: Crown Publishers.
Taylor, M. et al. (2005). Sociology: understanding a diverse society. London: Cengage Learning.