Violence in prisons has been there for a long period of time. More efforts have been put in place to remedy the situation but a lot still needs to be done as the problem still persists. Most cases have been reported regarding poor prison management that leads to drugs and other weapons finding their way into prisons. The problem has been on the rise in part as a result of some of the policy decisions formulated to curb the vice.
For instance, the use of imprisonment as a response to crime was a policy in the 1980s and ’90s which were passed by the state and federal legislators. Those laws were intended to ensure that a large number of people convicted would end up being imprisoned and the terms handed over to them would be longer. The policy received support from the federal violent crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The act required the states applying for grants to construct prisons to meet certain conditions. Some of those conditions were increased percentage of convicted offenders, increased average time to be spent by an offender in prison and increased percentage of sentence that the offenders were to server in prison when convicted.
As a result, the prisons have become more populated making them hold more inmates than they were designed to hold leading to cases of violence in prisons as inmates fight for the control of the available resources between rival gangs, violence on prison guards and self-inflicted violence. The problem can also be traced historically due to racial factors and the growing economic distress in the U.S during the 1970s to ’80s. Politics played a major role where poor people and ethnic minorities were linked to crime with policy debates largely targeting them. Economic distress lead many people to get into crime as a means of making a living leading many of them to be imprisoned and incarcerated hence an increase in the population of inmates held in prisons resulting to violence in prisons while fighting for control and resources (Western, 2018).
The problem needs to be addressed because violence in prison has made those institutions to become unsafe place whereas they were meant to be places where convicts can be confined and corrected before being released back to the society. Addressing the problem will also make members of the public have faith in the prison facilities as they will know that their loved ones who are locked up in prison are safe and serving their term in good hands. Addressing the problem through decongestion will mean that more resources that would otherwise be spent in prisons can be channeled to other useful ventures that are of economic benefit to the taxpayer.
Efforts aimed at reducing and finally eliminating those violence in prisons can create an environment where the prisoners can begin concentrating on things that are going to make them better and more useful after serving their term and being released back to the society (Wener, 2012). The prison management will also have ample time of caring for the inmates by focusing on programs that can prepare them to be better people after completing their prison term and going back to the society.
The problem has a great impact both internally and externally. Internally the problem affects inmates who have to fight for control of the available resources. In so doing they end up causing harm to one another. Prison guards are also not left behind as they are also prone to attacks as they go to separate some of those fights. Prisons have become a dangerous place instead of being correctional facilities. There are instances where inmates have died while fighting one another. As a result of the crowding in the correctional facilities, it is easier for contagious diseases to spread among the inmates. Prison warders also experience a lot of difficulties trying to contain the inmates as a result of their large numbers.
The prison facilities have also been stretched to the limit as it has to contain a large number of prisoners than it was designed to support. Externally the taxpayers have to shoulder the burden of keeping the prisoners behind bars. For instance, more resources that would have otherwise been used elsewhere are allocated to prisons to cater for the convicts that are behind bars. violence inside the prisons has also escalated to the outside world where gang members of those inmates who are outside fighting one another as a way of avenging whatever is going on inside the prisons thereby increasing crime rate outside prison (Deflem, 2017). Members of the families of the prisoners hurt or killed during those fights are psychologically affected as a result of losing their loved ones.
The problem of violence in prisons has not yet been solved because there are still reported cases where prisoners are injured while some of them die as a result of fights over resources within the prison premises. Prison guards are also hurt during those clashes while there are also reported cases of self-harm. Most prisons are also still congested and they hold more convicts than they were originally designed to hold contributing to increased prison violence. Addressing the problem calls on more efforts towards educating the prison guards and the prisoners.
Other efforts includes programs aimed at decongesting the prisons and coming up with programs aimed at rehabilitating the inmates to be more accommodating to one another and focus on the ventures that are going to make them better members of the society. The increased rate of repeat offenders also shows that most people that go through the prison system become victims of assault and other violent attacks that leave them more damaged, maladjusted and hardened when they return to the society and they are forced to go back to criminal activities (Western, 2018).
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