The Prison System and its Impact on Society
Fort Hays University
Impressions of the Correctional System
Correctional officers expect their job to be mentally demanding and at times physically demanding. What they do not expect is to be a scapegoat because prison administrators pass the blame for system problems onto the correctional officers as a means of protecting themselves (Copes & Pogrebin, 2012). They also do not expect the lack of concern for their safety. This lack of concern often leads officers to allow blatant violations of prison policies to ensure their safety (Copes & Pogrebin, 2012). These violations create additional problems because inmates will in turn come to ...view middle of the document...
A new way of life soon develops as everyday life combines with doing what they can to maintain a relationship with the inmate. This includes planning for visits, which is often a source of stress all on its own. Prisons are sometimes a significant distance away and the logistics involved only serve to add to the stress of being the sole source of income in the household.
Considering 93% of all offenders return home (Petersilla, 2011), the rehabilitation of prisoners is one of the most important things in a prison next to security. Nonetheless, rehabilitating inmates is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it benefits the inmate by providing skills they did not have before and this results in fewer inmates returning to prison. However, fewer inmates results in prisons becoming a prime target for budget cuts. In 2008, the State of Kansas lost 70% of its funding for treatment and educational programs (Cadue, 2010). With that kind of loss, it makes it all but impossible for effective rehabilitation to take place.
Rehabilitation cannot be an all or nothing proposition, there needs to be a compromise. After all, rehabilitation programs are not for every prisoner (Petersilla, 2011). Instead of offering rehabilitation services to every inmate, offer the services and programs to the ones that can show they are motivated and want to benefit from them. This is a win-win situation for all concerned. Costs are reduced, benefiting the prison, and prisoners have the knowledge and skills to stay out of prison.
The Wrongly Convicted
Regardless of whether you are rich or poor, simply being incarcerated lowers your social standing and is classified as a shameful event (Chow & Leach, 2015), even if you were wrongly convicted.
Establishing the innocence and release of a wrongly convicted person is all too often a long drawn out battle. Sadly, upon release a completely new battle begins. Interviews with those that have been wrongly convicted say they are stigmatized despite their innocence being established. A stigma is a devalued social identity; a mark or an indicator that an individual is flawed, spoiled, or less than human, Crocker, Major, & Steele, 1998; Goffman, 1963; Markowitz, 2005 (as quoted in Chow & Leach, 2015). This alone increases the difficulty in acclimating back to society in the simplest of ways. Moving forward and putting the past behind is all they want. However being recognized, due to media coverage, can sometimes make this extremely difficult. From finding a job and housing to establishing new relationships, the stigma overshadows every aspect of their lives.
Families of those that are wrongly convicted experience a type of hell unlike any other. They believe that their family member is innocent and vow to do what it takes to prove their innocence. Unfortunately, this is an expensive proposition. Families can exhaust savings (Cole, 2009), retirement plans, and other financial sources fighting...