Purpose of Prison – Term Paper

Following historical events and practices, penal systems seem to appear as the most convenient method of curbing criminal behavior and until today justice systems globally follow this approach. Prisons are widely used as a workhouse, a holding chamber, an infirmary, and confinement unit. Its primary aim from the past has been to avenge and prevent crime and confine inmates in an effort of rehabilitating them. Following the history of prisons, one can notice that it is an establishment that has transforms tremendously and challenged its original practices and functions, aiming to conveniently and efficiently give sentences on the basis of justice and actual results. Confinement dates back to the ancient Greek and biblical times. Isolation at that time was undeveloped, unprofessional and irregular in its operations. The use of deplorable cisterns, horrific physical treatment, and repulsive cells was the highlight and the reality of prisons at that time. Historically, the philosophy behind confinement was based on revenge that seemed to be equal to the crime committed.

Punishment in Prisons

Today there is clear shift public spectacle kind of punishment that was regarded as conventional back in the past; however, modern practice is still practicing physical bodily punishment to inmates. A public spectacle was used as a way of discouraging other citizens from committing crimes while the use of physical punishment was aimed at deterring the criminals from committing crimes or resulting in criminal behavior in future. Doing away with public spectacle paved the way to prison establishment.

The philosophy that erupted in the Enlightenment era in regards to prisons resulted to great transformations in the American prison system that saw physical punishment ignored. At this time the physical punishment was replaced with rehabilitation. Rehabilitation aimed at changing the conduct of criminals and imparting the necessary skills that would allow them to integrate harmoniously with the society. America would then globally lead in transforming its justice system as it saw the creation of prominent prison designs that focused on using isolation, silence, and solitary structures to reform prisoners. Implementing these changes made America the leading country regarding prison m management.

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American Prison System

American prison system was only leading as a convenient and efficient justice system only for a short while since it experienced immense challenges that relatively overshadowed its achievements. Solitary confinement became famous as it led to the decline of corporal punishment and contributed to the introduction of recreation to provide relief to prisoners. Prisoners do not wear striped uniforms, and now modern prisons have a widespread use of contemporary technologies and use current medicine.

Although there seem to be positive insights from the prisons, these establishments are overcrowded. Overcrowding is a great challenge to the American prison system and hugely facilitated by determinate sentencing and stringent crime policies. Apparently, the sentencing period is lengthy, and since the lack of resources in prison is a big issue, the rehabilitation process is not efficient. Thus, many criminals find themselves committing crime and receiving lengthy sentences again. Overpopulation in prisons means the government should give a large budgetary allocation to the system. However, since that is something that is still under review and requires maximum intervention, the unsatisfactory situation in the American prison system is here to stay until strategic plans are implemented.

What is the Main Sim of All Prisons and Jails?

At the time they were established, prisons were quite unprofessional and inadequate in their practices and procedures. However, through the years after their onset, they have substantially transformed despite philosophical innovation and public attitudes, showing that the prison system has endured since its onset. The aim of prisons has not changed; it still seeks to curb crime and evil, either through vengeful moves or desire to rehabilitate wrongdoers. The experience gathered over time has advanced and enhanced the face of prisons; however, the system still faces challenges. Relying on prisons as the only way of punishing lawbreakers, has tremendously created a hitch in the system leading to the doubling of the jail population. The fight on crime continuous and victory seems to uninviting. Incarceration seems not to help reduce crime rates because even those who are released do not even take long before committing, thus prisons tend to overcrowd. The rate of incarceration in the country is an issue that should be looked at keenly since this rate does not conclude that the country has more criminals compared to other nations (Moehling & Piehl, 2009). It only means other countries are doing different things that the United States should emulate or do better on their existing policies. During the 1960s there were a large number of mentally ill individuals who were incarcerated since the institution they were in was closed due to lack of resources. Concurrently studies show a significant number of mentally disturbed people are incarcerated and incorporated in the justice system. Many of these individuals needed treatment for them to dissuade from crime. However, they end up in jails, contributing to the overcrowding issue. It is clear that the American penal system lacks efficient resources and practice to deal with mental illness. America needs to find different methods of punishing lawbreakers and only imprison those who commit serious crimes but facilitate that system with effective rehabilitation. This would allow individuals to reform completely so that when they are released, they would interact easily with the general public. The society should also be taught on how they should interact with ex-convicts so that they could not be invoked to return to their previous criminal behavior.


Brent, J.J., & Kraska, P. B. (2011). Theorizing Criminal Justice: Eight essential orientations.  Long Groove: Waveland Press.

Hancock, B., & Sharp, P. (2000). Criminal Justice In America, Theory, Practice, and Policy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Moehling, C., & Piehl, A. (2009). Immigration, Crime, and Incarceration in Early Twentieth-Century America. Demography, 46(4), 739-763.