Irony In Mass Incarceration

Amazing Essays
The irony in mass incarceration in the United States is that its purpose is to deter crime, yet it does the exact opposite. Contrary to modern belief, mass incarceration in the United States has increased drastically. Many factors can contribute to the uprising in incarceration. Though prison’s sole purpose is to deter crime, it in fact increases it. Sources suggest that first time offenders, and ex-convicts are highly likely to commit another crime after leaving prison, thus depicting the prison system’s failure in deterring crime. Many question whether prison is an effective punishment for criminals because its aftereffect causes ex-convicts to commit more crime.
In comparison to other countries, the incarceration rate of the United States
…show more content…
In other words, the sole purpose of prison is to punish criminals to prevent them from committing another crime, which is also referred to as deterrence. Now prison’s sole purpose was to isolate an individual who has committed a crime and confine them in hopes to debilitate their urge to commit another crime. Many say, however, that due to the uprising in mass incarceration in the United States, it has instead failed to deter crime. As more jail cells get filled with more prisoners, the rate of crime has yet to decrease. Therefore depicting another ironic notion, in the criminal justice system, because shouldn’t the rate of crimes decrease as incarceration rates increase because we’re locking up those who are committing said crimes. Yet, “there is a puzzling discontinuity between imprisonment rates, which have increased every year since 1973, and crime rates, which have been up and down during that time, and are, today, about what they were in 1970,” (Clear, 2007). Clearly implicating that prison is failing to do its sole purpose, which is to deter crime and rehabilitate those imprisoned. Also the fluctuation in crime rates may be because prison is depicted to be a place of crude punishment instead of a place of rehabilitation. These distorted images of prison have led for those imprisoned to stray away from rehabilitation and escape with a vengeance, …show more content…
In an effort to regulate crime, “partisan politics, and policies have been shaped more by symbols and rhetoric than by substance and knowledge,” (Tonry, 1999). In other words, politicians are usually swayed by the public opinions on crime, which is why Tonry refers to their knowledge of crime control as being shaped by symbols and rhetoric rather than facts about crime. Thus swaying politicians to enforce harsher crime laws, resulting in higher incarceration rates. Besides, Tonry mentioned that, “enhancing people’s predisposition to believe that harsh measures work, harsh laws are often enacted when crime rates are already falling.” That is to say, arresting people for a minor drug and giving them a harsher punishment, like sending them to prison, contributes to the high rates of mass incarceration. Statistics shows that, “800 people with the most jail stays from November 2008 through 2013 accounted for 18,713 incarcerations through December 2014 . . . In 88.7% of these detentions, the top charges were misdemeanors . . . Less than 1.2% of the top charges were violent crimes such as murder, rape and felony assault,”(O’Brien, 2015). Thus showing that punishing minor crimes harshly will later result in higher incarceration rates. Moreover, Tonry suggested that it might be

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    I Want To Be Free Essay

    • 1220 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Research done by the Rand Corporation showed that convicted felons had significantly higher recidivism rates when sent to prison, than ones who were placed on probation (Irwin, Ziedenberg, and Schiraldi). Somebody that may have been set straight by non incarcerating forms of punishment, could be permanently curbed to a life of crime. It’s shocking to see that mandatory sentencing laws are still in place by some states in America, despite research like this. “...The system we have designed to deal with offenders is among the most iatrogenic in history, nurturing those very qualities it claims to deter…”(“The Prison System”) Not only are the prisoners unproductive while in jail, but getting used to life in prison could make getting a regular job in society difficult once you get out. Even worse, when somebody leaves prison in America, they could be molded into an antisocial person with deep seeded resentment towards authority, and be even less likely to successfully integrate back into society.…

    • 1220 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Prison System Ineffective

    • 1557 Words
    • 7 Pages

    The most common form of recidivism is the drug-recidivism (Durose, Alexia and Howard 21). Drug users have a high tendency to get back into drug-related offenses after being released from jail, hence pointing to the fact that the prison system is failing tremendously. Besides the non-criminal drug offenders, criminal offenders can also relapse back into their criminal activities upon release from prison. This is because the American judicial system focuses more on sentencing people to serve many years in prison (Cambers 16). According to the National Statistics on Recidivism, about 67.8 percent of inmates set free in 2005 were arrested again within three years after their release.…

    • 1557 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Research Indeed, there must be a connection between crime rates and incarceration rates. Whether the problem of mass incarceration tends to lower the rate of crime is up for discussion. It is only logical to think that when people are behind bars they are no longer able to contribute to crime and raise the crime rate. The more people that are incarcerated must mean that crime rates are expected to fall as a result; studies have shown that this statement is false. An explanation for this could be that when one person gets locked up, there is usually another person who takes his place, thus maintaining the crime rate.…

    • 2109 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Research on deterrent indicates that sanction certainty is a far more important deterrent than sanction severity. Further, research on rational choice theory finds that informal costs (e.g., shame, embarrassment when family or friends find out about an offense) are a much stronger predictor of crime/conformity than formal sanctions, and imprisonment can further erode bonds that create informal costs. In addition, this approach is also inconsistent with many of the theories we covered during the second half of the semester. In fact, based on these theories, excessive use of incarceration could make things worse. For example, prisons might increase social learning of crime, decrease informal social control or label and stigmatize offenders, making it difficult to successfully reenter society.…

    • 1557 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Crime Vs Incarceration

    • 793 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Prisons don 't cure criminals; there are studies that suggest sending people to prison increase crime. Rather than locking people up for non-violent crimes, our country should attempt to help these people become more functioning members of society. Our current criminal justice system only makes it more difficult for those who go to prison to reintegrate into society, which helps to explain why more people who go to prison in the United States end up returning relative to prisons of other…

    • 793 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In The Jail: Managing the Underclass in American Society Irwin discusses rabble, crime and the jail extensively. Throughout the book Irwin tends to connect the concepts to one another showing how each concept is dependent on the other. Irwin postulates that a “high percentage of the jail’s intake could be eliminated through decriminalization”. (Irwin, Chp.7) By including this statement I believe that Irwin is asserting that the law is not always effective in dealing with all forms of criminals and crime. The criminal justice system is so quick to incarcerate someone who commits a crime without realizing that many that are currently in jail could’ve been “diverted” before they even went to trial.…

    • 943 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    It's another form of punishment that is handed down from the court system. The idea of deterrence is to use the example or threat of punishment to convince other individuals that criminal activity is not worthwhile. For example, one punishment that can be given to scare other individuals to not commit the same or similar crime is incarceration, or the death penalty depending on the charges and nature of the crime. I believe in theory the punishment goal deterrence would be effective. Unfortunately, I believe it isn't if it was very effective there wouldn't be such high crime rate number or thousands of new crimes being committed every day across the United States.…

    • 981 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The packed prisons result in a lack of care and rehabilitation which has not helped reduce recidivism, and instead the prisons have created a “criminogenic effect leading to more crime” (Ritzer, 138). Those who have spent time in prison often return to prison because they have conducted other crimes. Prisons were supposedly designed to keep criminals away from the people in everyday society and to encourage and rehabilitate them to prevent them from committing other crimes. From what was stressed in Sutherland’s article, he believed in a correctional institute that would dissuade criminals from conducting more crimes after they have been punished, so the declining helpfulness of the facilities in today’s society would…

    • 827 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Another idea is the three strikes law, that increases the sentences of convicted felony and the final strike being the harshest with usually life in prison. This idea follows with the rise of Supermax prisons and the 23 hours of solitary confinement. This not helpful to the inmates as they are more likely to suffer from more negative emotions and reactions in solitary confinement and the rouble they have when trying to go back into the real world. However, this one size-fits-all solution has lead to the quadrupling of the incarceration rate in the US since the 1970s. Until the 1970s, rehabilitation was an important part to the US prison system.…

    • 1633 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Incarceration: Is the U.S. Taking It Too Far? The American penal system has been a topic of discussion amongst American lawmakers for many years. The discussion heated up when American lawmakers started the war on crime in which they attempted to decrease crime rates by significantly increasing the incarceration rate of criminals. In this attempt to look tough on crime many American prosecutors may have lost track of the goal of reintegration into society by throwing too many people in prisons with no hope of rehabilitation.…

    • 1282 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays