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Prison system in America - Essay Example

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Prison system in America
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Prison system in America

Arguments against imprisonment include the idea that prison is not being used as a last resort to deter criminal behavior, housing prisoners is expensive, imprisonment doesn’t deter crime and it is cruel and inhumane. Despite statistics that confirm these contentions, imprisonment has experienced a growing attraction as a political response to crime. An increased prison population and its inherent human and financial costs have little effect on the attitudes of some. Despite the obvious and extensive failures of our penitentiary system, more people are being sent to prison for more reasons primarily as a result of tougher sentencing laws specifically involving the ‘war on drugs.’ Over the past quarter century, the U.S. has added to its prison population and therefore to its social problems. Anyone who has seen a prison movie likely has witnessed the stereotypical ‘shower scene’ where gang members viciously attack a lone inmate. They put a knife tightly against the victim’s throat and threaten to kill him if he puts up a fight. The lone inmate is then repeatedly raped by the gang and afterwards is too frightened to notify prison officials fearing retribution. This Hollywood recreation is not unlike the actual events taking place inside prison walls. Being brutally raped in prison is not simply a physical violation; it is an emotionally scarring event. According to the Human Rights Watch, this and other forms of gang-related violence occur regularly in prisons across the country. “Gang assaults are not uncommon, and victims may be left beaten, bloody and, in the most extreme cases, dead” (“No Escape”). However, violent and blatant rapes are but one type of sexual abuse many prisoners must endure. The most prevalent form of rape does not occur by means of violence nor have many of the victims been overtly threatened. Nevertheless, they engage in sex acts unwillingly because they do not believe they have a choice. Prison is an intimidating place. Prisoners, especially those new to the system can be easily coerced into doing things such as allowing themselves to be raped or committing violent acts against others out of fear. This type of prison rape is easier to conceal than violent attacks and much easier for prison staff and the general public to ignore. “For some prisoners, the atmosphere of fear and intimidation is so overwhelming that they acquiesce in their sexual exploitation without putting up any obvious resistance” (“No Escape,” 2006). The intimidation begins early and forcefully. According to the account of a first-time offender arriving in prison, “as soon as I walked on the wing, the catcalls started.” According to another prisoner, “Most of prison is a mind game. People get taken advantage of when they’re green and don’t know what to expect” (“No Escape,” 2006). Prison is described by its detractors as inhumane, a brutalizing and damaging experience. The prevalent imprisonment trend invokes a high human cost to those who caused no harm to another individual or property. The war on drugs is policy based on morals, not on public health, and is taking a grave toll on the economics and civil liberties of our society. Crime is on the rise overcrowding the prison system while inner cities are becoming unlivable decreasing chances for the economic revival in those areas, all as a consequence of a misguided war on drugs to prevent the misuse of drugs. These governmental drug programs have had very little if any reduction in the use of drugs but a great many innocent victims have had their lives ruined. “ ... Read More
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