Prison Systems

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Prison Systems
The criminal justice system has led to numerous changes in the manner in which prisons
operate. For instance, the nature and magnitude of crimes have evolved with an increase in more
complicated cases. In the early 19
century, terrorism was not as rife as it in the recent times.
Besides, gun violence was not as common as it is today. Subsequently, the development of crime
has led to numerous reforms in the criminal justice system. Markedly, prison systems are entirely
different around the world. Notably, some countries such as China and Norway mainly focus on
rehabilitation instead of punishment which proves to be useful as a means of reducing
recidivism. On the contrary, countries such as Russia greatly rely on the poor and dangerous
conditions of its prisons to instill fear among people. In this context, the conditions of these
facilities are worse to the point that nobody dreads committing a felony that would land them in
jail. The paper seeks to critically discuss prison systems around the globe with the aim of
determining whether they are obsolete or not.
Prison Systems
Evidently, when discussing prison systems around the world, it is essential to evaluate systems of
particular countries. In America for instance, the prison population as at 2017 was over 3 million
citizens against the entire population of over 318 million (South and Robert, 40). At the same
time, imprisonment rate in the country averages at 740 people per 100,000 citizens which are
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quite high. America is a world’s superpower hence incarceration rates are expected to be
significantly low. Shockingly, recidivism rate in America is currently at 52 percent which is
arguably the highest around the globe (Hampson 6). Apart from that, Russia is believed to be the
country that uses unorthodox methods to reduce incarceration rates. A comprehensive analysis of
its prison system reveals exciting trends. Notably, the prison population stands at approximately
880,000 against a total population of around 143 million. The imprisonment rate is slightly lower
than that of America with Russia recording 615 prisoners in every 100,000 citizens.
Consequently, recidivism rate stands at 36 percent (Davis and Steve 23). Notably, Russia heavily
relies on its excessive prison sentences and the general fear of grave punishments to reduce
recidivism rates.
Apart from that, Norway is arguably the only country with the most effective and
successful prison systems in the entire globe. In fact, other nations benchmark from Norway with
the aim of improving their jails and criminal justice systems (Hampson 15). Interestingly, the
prison population averages at only 3700 prisoners against the country’s entire population of
around 5 million. What is more, the rate of incarceration is substantially low only 71 people out a
population of 100,000. The rate of recidivism is also low at it stands at 20 percent (South and
Robert, 45). As previously noted, Norway prison system focuses more on rehabilitation of the
criminals rather than on punishing them. In fact, this concept explains the low rate of recidivism.
Finally, a comparative analysis of China’s prison system indicates that its prison population
stands at 1.5 million against 1.4 billion citizens. The incarceration rate is quite low with only 118
people per 100,000. Subsequently, China has the lowest recidivism rates of about 7 percent
(Davis and Steve 43).
Punishment in the American Prisons
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As previously noted, America has arguably the most inefficient prison systems around
the world. Notably, the country’s criminal justice focuses mainly on punishing criminals rather
than rehabilitating them. For this reason, it is evident that recidivism rates are considerably high
in America. Interestingly, the prison staff in America faced with numerous challenges, especially
when maintaining law and order (Olson 759). Owing to the high incarceration rates in America,
most of the correction facilities are usually overcrowded. This poses a grave danger to the staffs
as controlling prisoners proves challenging. The staff members are typically given freedom to
make decisions when inside the prisons. Some of these decisions include the nature and manner
of punishment to provide the prisoners.
In most instances, they are forced to make quick decisions in uncertain environments. At
the same time, their actions are likely to be understood in ordinary heuristics with the aim of
simplifying the process of decision making. Some of them include profiling prisoners along
stereotypes such as criminality and race. America’s prisons are famed for their use of solitary
confinement which is arguably the harshest form of punishments. In fact, a study conducted on
over 11,000 prisoners revealed the worrying trend of punishing criminals on the basis of their
races (Olson 765). The black inmates are always on the verge of such atrocities as they report
high incidences of being placed in solitary confinement compared to their white counterparts.
Prison Reforms
In the recent times, prisons have continuously embraced numerous improvements with
the aim of enhancing rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. Notably, after conducting various
studies, it has been observed that incorporating education in rehabilitation plays a critical role in
ensuring prisoners thoroughly reform in readiness for life after prison (Gaskew 68). For instance,
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America has continued to integrate prison systems with several reforms in both health and
education. Evidently, community college campuses are usually located even in most parts of the
country including the most isolated ones. Most of them are located in the large metropolitan
cities in the nation. However, sufficient studies have proven that institutions that are located
close to correctional facilities play a fundamental role in rehabilitation processes (Oliver 50).
Mostly, such colleges help to build, maintain, and develop long-term positive and mutually
beneficial relationships that are mutual.
Markedly, educating the prisoners is one way that ensures they learn skills necessary to
sustain their lives even after jail (Gaskew 70). Such courses are usually offered according to an
individual’s likes and preferences. In this context, educational institutions provide customized
programs for the inmates which are either taught within the school or the tutors go the prisons.
Such collaboration is efficient as it leads to low cost of rehabilitation. America’s prisons have an
acute to incorporate the needs of African-American men who comprise the highest number of
prisoners in the country. The educational reform needs to address some of the common
challenges that the group faces leading to their high numbers. Therefore, an education program
targeting them must seek to address the cause of their problems and later customize the studies
towards solving them.
Health is another crucial reform that prisons around the world are increasingly adopting.
Evidently, it is a concept that has continuously been informed by the philosophy of health
promotion which conceptualizes health as a responsibility and a requirement of all social
settings. Currently, the health promotion concept has been largely supported by both political
and religious leaders. Also, international organizations such as the World Health Organization
(WHO) have also expressed their support to such programs for the benefits they bring to inmates.
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The argument such groups give is that correctional facilities are meant to rehabilitate criminals
and not to punish them. Nonetheless, despite the spirited campaigns to promote health within the
prisons, the policy has not been fully adopted in all facilities mainly due to cultural aspects and
financial constraints (Woodall et al. 474).
Moreover, a comprehensive analysis of England’s prison system reveals an exciting trend
whereby the inmates negotiate the norms and cultures, and structures of prison life. In so doing,
the prisoners relinquish control and also take control whereby they resist and make choices of
some prison elements. Paradoxically, in as much as most prisoners are required to be released
from prison at one point, they are expected to exercise control, agency, and choice in the outside
world. However, the environment while incarcerated does not provide them with a chance to
practice (Woodall et al. 474). Moving forward, a settings approach must be integrated to
conceptually and practically enable health promoters to teach the concept of health promotion in
A comprehensive analysis of prison systems around the world reveals an exciting trend
whereby some focus on rehabilitation than punishing the criminals. Changes in the nature of
crimes around the world have led to improvements in criminal justice and following prison
structures. Norway is arguably the only country that has the best prison systems in the world. It
has low incarceration and recidivism rates compared to other countries such as China and Russia.
Notably, Russia uses its retributive and dangerous prisons to discourage people from committing
felonies that might land them in jail. Most of the incarceration facilities are usually congested
which increases health risks. Therefore, several reforms have been established with the aim of
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improving health conditions and imparting necessary skills. With regards to the latter, when
prisoners are given skills, their re-entry is substantially enhanced. Health-wise, several programs
have been introduced to improve the living conditions of inmates.
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Works Cited
Davis, Angela Y, and Steve Freeman. Are Prisons Obsolete? New York NY: Seven Stories
Press, 2010.
Gaskew, Tony. "Developing a Prison Education Pedagogy." New Directions for Community
Colleges, vol. 2015, no. 170, Summer2015, pp. 67-78. EBSCOhost,
Hampson, Christopher D. "The New American Debtors' Prisons." American Journal of Criminal
Law, vol. 44, no. 1, Fall2016, pp. 1-48. EBSCOhost,
Oliver, Kari. “The Impact of Educational Obtainment within the Prison Systems on Post-release
Rates of Recidivism. (2015).
Olson, Jeremiah C. "Race and Punishment in American Prisons." Journal of Public
Administration Research & Theory, vol. 26, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 758-768. EBSCOhost,
South, Nigel, and Robert P. Weiss. Comparing Prison Systems. Routledge, 2014.
Woodall, James, et al. "Control and Choice in English Prisons: Developing Health-Promoting
Prisons." Health Promotion International, vol. 29, no. 3, Sept. 2014, p. 474. EBSCOhost,
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