Irony In Mass Incarceration

2094 Words 8 Pages
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