Incarceration Essay

Incarceration is/is not a deterrent to crime? The major question that comes to my mind regarding crime statistics is “Why is it that the number of people that are in the U. S. is rising at an unprecedented rate? ” Analyst say that the crime rate has remained relatively flat over the last 15 years, but today we are seeing the most rapid growth in our nation’s prison population since the first prisons were established in the 19th century. Some say that this incarceration increase is due to the crackdown on drug users.

Others say that it’s due to the fact that sentenced offenders are more likely to be sent to prison for their crimes than ever before. I can only assume the reasons why our prisons are over-populated is because incarceration is no longer an effective crime deterrent. Years ago, prisons were a horrible place to be, you were forced to work all day. The prisoners did as they were told because if they didn’t, they would be physically beaten by other inmates or guards, or often killed.

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Today, work is an option and the most severe punishment while in prison is the taking away of privileges that they should not have in the first place. Years ago, citizens perceived prison as a horrible environment; they feared breaking the law and the prison population was extremely low. Today, the average citizen perceives prison as a lazy man’s paradise, and prison population is at an all-time high. The incarceration of today is not stringent enough punishment to effective deter crime.

Prisoners of today have too many rights and privileges that lead to ineffective incarceration. The justice system must bring the fear back into the system by enforcing stringent punishment as before in order to make incarceration an effective crime deterrent. The problem is that tougher policies don’t occur random and is one of the oldest problems facing the U. S. Both the prospect of getting caught and the prospect of spending time in prison are supposed to deter offenders from criminal activities, encouraging more constructive actions like staying in chool. The FBI recently released data showing that serious crimes decreased in 1996, continuing a pattern that began in 1992. This might satisfy the statisticians who detect an improving trend, but it won’t calm the fears of most Americans. Indeed, polls show that the average citizen worries a lot about crime. (Steve H. Hanke / professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University)


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