When looking at the criminal justice system in the United States, it may be difficult to conjure up any substantive level of optimism. A problem that permeates almost every facet of society, our system of justice contains many complex and deep-seeded flaws. As a result, it is difficult to indicate a singular issue as “the biggest problem. ” However, when push comes to shove, it appears that recidivism is the biggest issue in the United States criminal justice system, though there may exist the potential for strategies to successfully combat the problem.
Recidivism, or re-entry into the correctional system, is a problem that has held steady in the United States in recent decades. It is apparent that the recidivism rate has stayed fairly steady, holding around 40-45 percent within a year of release and 66-68 percent within three years of release (Henslin). Essentially, two-thirds of those who go to prison will end up back in prison within three years. These numbers contribute to America’s continuing reign as the world’s leader in per capita incarceration rates (“Entire”).
With prison overcrowding being a well-publicized issue in the United States, especially against the backdrop of near-bankrupt state governments, recidivism represents a very real threat to the system as a whole. Not only does housing this immense number of prisoners cost a substantial sum of money, but the government is also largely unable to collect taxes from these inmates (Henslin), further compounding the problem. There are many factors that contribute to recidivism in the United States. For one, public arrest records drastically detriment chances of employment once released.
If those released are unable to generate necessary income, not only are they more likely to commit crimes of necessity, but they are also more likely to feel disillusioned enough with society to break its rules once again. Furthermore, as many as 70 percent of prison inmates are sexually and/or physically assaulted by a fellow inmate. The resulting emotional and physical suffering leads to inmates accepting these behaviors and valuing their lives and the lives of others less, thereby leading to high rates of recidivism (Bailey).
Finally, it has been hypothesized that harsher penalties have placed greater weight on retribution over rehabilitation, so that the root causes of criminal activity go largely unfixed, so the behavior is repeated later. As difficult and multifaceted an issue as recidivism is, there may be ways to cut it down. For one, working to increase employment opportunities for those with criminal records could lead to more of them becoming functional and contributing members of society, and thus decrease the chances of reoffending. In addition, placing greater emphasis on preventing abuse among prisoners could go a long way toward correcting recidivism.
While this may require more initial capital (perhaps for more guards, better surveillance, less inmates per cell, etc. ), if it works as intended, the resulting drop in recidivism would represent an investment that pays great dividends. Finally, exploring more of the various rehabilitative options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, could correct many of the underlying causes of recidivism. Overall, recidivism is far from the only major problem facing the criminal justice system in the United States, but it may be the biggest and most important. Fixing this problem would reduce crime and the burden on the taxpayers.
Although clearly easier said than done, there are several measures that could be taken that have a good chance of reducing the magnitude of this problem. Works Cited Bailey, Kristen. “The Causes of Recidivism in the Criminal Justice System and Why It Is Worth the Cost to Address Them. ” Nashville Bar Journal. Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007. Web. Accessed 29 April 2013. “Entire world – Prison Population Rates per 100,000 of the national population. ” International Centre for Prison Studies. University of Essex, Oct. 2012. Web. Accessed 29 April 2013. Henslin, James. “Social Problems: A Down-To-Earth Approach. ” 2008. Web. Accessed 29 April 2013.
Cite this The Repeat Offender: Recidivism as the Biggest Problem in the Criminal Justice System
The Repeat Offender: Recidivism as the Biggest Problem in the Criminal Justice System. (2016, Sep 28). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-repeat-offender-recidivism-as-the-biggest-problem-in-the-criminal-justice-system/