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Individual Assignment Jail and Prison Paper

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    Imprisonment has been around since the middle ages. Centuries ago, other forms of punishment were more favorable over imprisonment. In this day and age, prisons and jails serve a vital role in the criminal justice system and also provide a more humane way of punishing criminals (Matchstick, 2009). Types of Prisons There are three different types of prisons; maximum-security, medium-security, and minimum-security. They are classified by their security levels. Maximum- security prisons provide very high level security.

    These types of prisons use hick walls, high fences, and other technologies like motion sensors and electronic perimeters. Maximum-security prisons also tend to have living area in the middle of the facility so there are many barriers that have to be crossed in order to leave. Medium-security prisons are much like maximum-security prisons in structure and technology, but typically the inmates are allowed more freedoms like exercise time, yard time, and also library time. Minimum-security prisons typically allow the inmate to roam the premises and armed guards are not used.

    Many minimum-security prisoners participate in some kind of work r study program (Schmeltzer, 2011). There are also private prisons. These prisons are state-run, but are contracted out to private companies who run the day to day functions of the prisons. Some companies supplement the functions of the prisons and others provide full staffing to run the prison completely. (Schmeltzer, 201 1) Jails versus Prison Prisons are typically long-term incarceration for prisoners serving out their sentences or waiting on death row. Depending of the type of crime committed tells which type of security prison the person will go to.

    Jails differ from prisons cause they are “short-term confinement facilities originally built to hold suspects following arrest or pending trial” (Schmeltzer, 2011). The Role of Jails “Jails have been called the ‘shame of the criminal justice system” Smaller, 2011). Jails tend to be poorly funded and filled with low trained employees, but still jails serve many purposes in the justice system of the United States. Jails hold prisoners pending their trials and arraignments. They also re-admit the violators of parole and probation back into the system. Jails also serve as holding for military courts.

    Inmates are also held in Jails when overcrowding occurs. Jails also hold people with short-term sentences, usually less than 1 year. (Schmeltzer, 2011) Jail and Prison Culture and Subculture When inmates enter into prisons and jails for the first time there is a harsh reality of change that has to be realized. The first is the culture of the institution. The culture is the establishment’s harsh rules and procedures that are put in place and enforced by the corrections officers and staff of the institution. There is another element that may be even harder to adjust to.

    That is the prison or jail subculture. ‘The colonization of new inmates into the prison subculture has been described as the process of personalization” (Schmeltzer, 2011). The subcultures in the prison are ever-changing and in general reflect the values of the prisoners themselves. Each prisoner assumes their own roles. For example, a prisoner can be deemed a religious or an opportunist (Schmeltzer, 2011). There is also the issue of sexuality in the prison subculture. “Sexual behavior inside prisons is both constrained and encouraged by the prison subculture” (Schmeltzer, 2011).

    The issue of prison rape is a top priority for facilities and needs to be closely monitored. In addition to all the inner workings of the subcultures in the prisons and jails, the imprisoned female must also be taken into account. There are more than 115,770 women imprisoned in state and federal correctional institutions (Schmeltzer, 2011). Females are separated from the male population. The female offenders tend to be convicted of less violent crimes and are more likely to be uneducated and unskilled individuals. They tend to be victims of issues such as domestic violence and sexual abuse.

    There is a link between criminal activity of women and substance abuse. (Schmeltzer, 2011 ) Community Based Corrections Programs The sass’s was the start of a movement of community based corrections programs. “The transition to community corrections (also called demonstrativeness’s, diversion, and decoration) was based on the premise that rehabilitation could not occur in isolation from the free social world to which inmates must eventually return” (Schmeltzer, 2011). Some of these types of community based programs used today include work release and study programs.

    Other types of community based programs are operated in the jails, such as home detention and electronic monitoring. These programs are intended to rehabilitate criminals and put that back into society as productive people. Probation and Parole Probation is a court ordered sanction where the offender serves their sentence under the care of the community instead of in a prison. “Its goal is to retain some control over criminal offenders while rehabilitating them” (Schmeltzer, 2011 Probation can be imposed directly on the criminal, but in most instances criminals are first incarcerated and then put on probation.

    Those sentences to probation have to follow certain conditions. For example, they have to remain drug free. Parole is when a criminal is released early from incarceration. Parole serves as a form of supervision for these people. Parolees are re-entered into society after their incarceration. Parole Boards grant parole based on their own judgment and assessment of each individual considered. There are many factors considered when releasing a prisoner with parole and they include, but are not limited to age, criminal record, and potential of rehabilitation (Matchstick, 2009).

    Violent Behavior in Jails and Prisons Unfortunately, despite the control that imprisonment tries to accomplish, there is still violent behavior that goes on in prison. Many of the issues that occur stem from the subcultures of the different prisons and the gangs that have formed in the prison system. Sexual violence and rape is also a problem in the prison system. It is also necessary for the prisons to take certain precautions to avoid riots. In the past, riots have broken out due to poor conditions and other prisoner grievances (Schmeltzer, 2011).


    In conclusion, the jail and prison systems of the United States play an important role in criminal justice. The jails hold short-term sentenced inmates and also play a vital role in community based corrections programs. Prisons hold long-term inmates as well as house death row. Probation and parole also play a vital role in rehabilitating people.

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