One of the most misunderstood institutions in our contemporary society is the system of corrections. They say that currently there is still no empirical evidence that would prove that the threat of imprisonment will reduce crime rates. On the other hand, the separation of the inmate from his family did not only cause hardship for the family that he left behind but it only made him a worse individual since he gets to spend time in jail with hardened criminals.
The system of corrections, however, as an institution has for several years been protecting the rest of the society from those that have previously committed crimes. They do not only incapacitate the criminal offenders by separating them from the society but they have also contributed to the reformation and rehabilitation of these criminal offenders. Indeed, the corrections as an institution have been performing this dual function since it was first established and until now has been faithfully discharging its duties.
Social norms exist in every society. Norms are actually the rule or standards of behavior shared by members of a social group. They determine what acts are appropriate and what are not. They serve as a lighthouse for every individual in determining what acts are socially acceptable. The maintenance of order in the society is dependent on the compliance with these norms.
The conflicting interests of individuals, however, cause the man to deviate from the socially-accepted norms. Among the deviations which may be committed are the commission of the injury to another, nonpayment of debt, or the commission of a heinous crime.
Deviations are considered serious problems which disrupt the normal functioning of the society. Social Scientists have attempted to explain why people deviate from norms. Among the theories are Conflict Theory and Control Theory. Competing Theorists argue that because of the competing interest man commit crime while Control Theorists “posit that crime occurs when there are inadequate social or physical controls to deter it from happening”(Duneier & Appelbaum)
The philosopher Thomas Hobbes likewise explained the existence of deviant behavior. According to him, the man by nature is nasty, brutish and short.
“We are needy and vulnerable. We have easily led astray in our attempts to know the world around us. Our capacity to reason is as fragile as our capacity to know; it relies upon language and is prone to error and undue influence. When we act, we may do so selfishly or impulsively or in ignorance, on the basis of faulty reasoning or bad theology or others' emotive speech.”(Thomas Hobbes. Moral and Political Philosophy)
As the Control Theorists have argued, in order to curb this human nature certain mechanisms have to be in place. Among these mechanisms that serve the function of controlling human behavior is the family, the school, church and the corrections system. This essay is concerned with the system of corrections as a means of controlling and correcting human behavior.
Every country has a criminal justice system of its own. This criminal justice system country determines and defines what acts are considered crime and imposes the penalty of imprisonment for violation of its penal laws. Through its laws, each individual state is able to enforce and maintain discipline among its citizens. Laws, therefore, are essential in regulating the behavior of individuals within the society and maintaining peace and order within the society
The first recorded prison in the United States was the Walnut Street Jail which was established in Pennsylvania in 1790. The same was considered the solution in combating crime. The emphasis was on individual cell-block architecture to create an environment to rehabilitate and reform, to separate the criminal from all contact with corruption and then teach him moral habits of order and regularity by means of severing discipline.
Since it was first established research shows that there is an increasing trend in the number of prisoners in the United States. This finding was affirmed by the Bureau of Justice of This increasing trend in imprisonment in the United States is affirmed by the Bureau of Justice of the US Department of Justice.
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