Felons Post Prison

There is an immense amount of challenges prisoners face during their re-entry into society. Prisoners released on parole face many conditions that can be very difficult for newly released inmates. Many inmates have actually stated that they’d rather finish their entire sentence in prison than be released on parole. Some of the most common conditions of parole are; not allowed to leave the state, have to request permission to change residence, finding and maintaining employment, no possession of firearms, paying supervision fees, random searches, and no alcohol usage. While some of these conditions don’t seem very difficult, they can really effect an individual’s life.

Felons are struggling tremendously to find jobs post incarceration. This serves as a very big issue since one of the conditions of parole is having a job. Many employers don’t want to focus their attention on hiring felons because of their preconceived notions about them. While everyone makes mistakes in their lives, felons mistakes are put on blast in the job search process. This type of system sets individuals up for failure. Felons will sometimes feel that their only way to make a lively hood is to continue a life of crime. Since the public has already marked them as unfit to work simple jobs it’s inevitable that the recidivism rates are increased.

I believe the prisons should put more of their resources into preparing inmates for life outside prison. Grooming them to reenter the society will help them know what to expect from the future. Talking to employers and educating them on the rehabilitation efforts being taken in prisons can also help. By showing them that many of the inmates have changed then we will begin to see felons become functioning members of society, rather than stuck in the “rotating door”.

Please comment your ideas on prisoner reentry challenges!

Juveniles in Adult Prisons

In the juvenile justice system, juveniles are routine held in a juvenile detention center to help rehabilitate and gain retribution for their crimes. However, when juveniles are tried as adult in the criminal justice system they can be sent away to adult prisons. This is scary to think about. Putting 16 year olds in a prison that is flooded with dangerous criminals, instantly makes them the prey. This is like putting second graders in a class room full of angry high schoolers. Putting juveniles in adult prisons puts them at a bigger state of danger almost immediately.

Juvenile detention centers revolve their facilities around the idea that rehabilitation is key. By doing this they offer programs that adult prisons don’t. For example, juvenile detention centers help continue the juveniles high school and college educations. Being placed in an adult prison isn’t able to further help juvenile’s education to the extent detention centers do. By placing juveniles in these prisons they immediately heighten the juvenile’s recidivism rates in the future. Being around dangerous criminals all day normalizes the criminal lifestyle which in turn causes teens to believe that committing crime is okay. This results in juveniles continuing their life of crime once they’re released.

I believe it is extremely important that we keep juveniles and adults separated while they are serving their sentences. By continuing funding to juvenile detention centers and reducing the normalization of juveniles in prison we can help protect juveniles in the future. By implementing the programs offered in juvenile detention centers we can lower recidivism rates, causing juveniles to grow up being functioning members of society once they’re released.

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Please leave a comment below expressing your thoughts on juveniles in adult prisons!

Juveniles Aren’t Allowed a Jury Trial

As I have previously mentioned in my blog, juveniles don’t receive the same rights adults do in our justice system. While this is evident in many parts of the juvenile justice system, I would like to focus this post on a jury trial. As a result of movies like Legally Blond and 12 Angry Men, jury trials is how most people picture our court systems today. Jury trials are beneficial to the accused in many ways. Most people believe that they are more likely to get a fairer trial if they have a jury in the courtroom. The idea behind this kind of trial is to put the accused in front of a jury of their peers instead of a single judge. Since it’s a jury of your peers they’re more likely to relate to your situations better than a judge. This can be more reassuring to someone facing trail.

In our system however, juveniles are given the option to have a jury trial. This is a very large disadvantage in my opinion.  Since their only option is bench trails, the judge holds all of an individual’s fate in their hands. This can be especially scary because sometimes judges don’t take all of the evidence into account and instead go with their gut. Another disadvantage of bench trials is that getting an appeal is very unlikely. In bench trails it’s harder for appellate defendants to argue there was any issues with the original trial.

Juveniles don’t deserve to have so many of their rights taken away. By enforcing the ability to have a jury trial for minors we can help them combat how negatively the courts treat them. I undoubtedly believe that if an adult has certain rights in the justice system than juveniles should too.

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Please comment below your thoughts on jury and bench trails!

Juveniles Constitutional Right to Seek Bail

Americans take their constitutional rights very seriously, but yet we don’t care if juveniles receive the same rights adults do. In our court system today juveniles are not treated as equals. In fact, we don’t consider juveniles as a part of our criminal justice system, they are segregated into their own system called the juvenile justice system. One downfall to this system is that juveniles don’t have the constitutional right to seek bail. The fact that juveniles are forced into a system that doesn’t honor their constitutional rights is outrageous.

Seeking bail is an important part of our justice system. This gives individuals on trial the right to be at home during their trails. This gives the accused individuals many benefits such as; access to their attorney without limitation from the jails, the ability to comprehend what is happening in a safe space, continue earning an income, etc. By not giving juveniles the option to receive bail they are setting them up for a more difficult trial experience. This is especially true since trials usually take months or even years to finish.

By reviewing some of the basic rights adults have in our criminal justice system, we can begin helping juveniles. Just because someone is under the age of 18 doesn’t mean they don’t deserve their natural born rights. If we structured the juvenile justice system like we structured the criminal justice system, then these children would have an easier time rehabilitating into functional members of society.

Please leave comments below on whether or not you think it’s fair that juveniles don’t have the right to seek bail!

Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement is used for many different reasons in our prisons today. Solitary confinement is the process of removing a prisoner from general population and putting them in a tiny concrete room with no windows for 23 hours a day. The one hour a day they aren’t in this room is referred to their “rec time”. During their rec time they are transported in heavy chains, from their cell to an outdoor cage (see pictured below). These inmates receive zero to no human interaction on a daily basis. These inmates can be living in solitary confinement from months to years. This type of living situation has resulted in many mental illnesses as well as suicides.

While this type of living situation is designed to get retribution from dangerous criminals, many nonviolent prisoners live here. Since prisons don’t offer many ways of protection for inmates from other inmates, solitary confinement is the resolution. Keeping inmates protected can be extremely difficult. By putting the inmates in need of protection into solitary confinement it helps make the process easier for the officers. The mentality behind that is if they are locked up by themselves all day then they can’t be injured by other inmates. While this makes sense on paper, this type of area is causing criminals to be released in worse mental and physical states than they arrived in. These inmates are being forgotten in solitary confinement and it needs to end.

Diminishing the use of solitary confinement would be an immensely difficult process. Which is why I believe the best course of action is to begin using solitary confinement strictly for the violent offenders. I believe it’s important to set up a prison community that is secluded from the general population for the inmates needing protection. By putting inmates in a secluded yet populated area with nonviolent offenders we will see results. Once this issue is tackled I believe our next responsibility is diminishing solitary confinement as a whole.

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Please comment below your ideas on solitary confinement!

The Death Penalty

As many of you know the death penalty is a type of retribution that sentences individuals to death for the crimes they have committed. While this type of sentencing is held exclusively for offenses involving murder and rape, I still believe it isn’t in our countries best interest. While I do believe that crimes involving murder and rape should be prosecuted to the fullest extent, I don’t seem to agree on wasting our resources on killing inmates. The death penalty requires more use of our resources than the public thinks. While many people argue that the death penalty helps the government save money, it has been proven that the death penalty costs more money to follow through than housing a single inmate for their entire life. We spend so much money on the death penalty that Oregon Judicial Department would annually save 2.3 million dollars if the death penalty was eliminated.

Moving away from money, the death penalty effects many individuals in a negative way. Forcing correctional officers to kill inmates has resulted in mental illnesses like PTSD to arise. The moral code these individuals have lived by their entire life is put into question every time an inmate is sentenced to the death penalty. I don’t think it’s fair for our government to force these officers to follow through on these sentences. While vengeance is the most common reason why courts put individuals on death row, it has been shown that this type of retribution is helping the families of murder victims. Putting the murderer on death row hasn’t been able to heal families of the trauma they’ve encountered. Instead it has been shown that the longer time it takes for execution cases in the court system have prolonged the agony of the families. If we instead directed the money we’re using on death penalty to counseling victim’s families, the trauma would be reduced.

I believe that removing the death penalty will be beneficial to our country. While many believe the death penalty is deterring crime, evidence supports that states with no death penalty implemented have lower murder rates than state whom use it. I believe it’s crucial for our government to decrease the amount of inmates on death row. The amount of money and hardships saved will make diminishing the death penalty more appealing as time goes on.

Please comment your opinion on the death penalty!

Private Prisons

As I have previously mentioned in my blog, private prisons have appeared in our criminal justice system to help combat overcrowding. Private prisons are prisons that are owned by private cooperation’s instead of owned by our federal government. The government decided to turn to private prisons to also help save money. Private prisons receive a certain dollar amount for each inmate every year. With this dollar amount the private prisons are responsible for housing, feeding, and overall taking care of inmates. While this idea sounds great, problems have arisen. Private prisons have begun looking at the inmates as dollar amounts rather than human beings. They have used inmates to gain a profit instead of focusing on their basic human rights. Many of these prisons have cut corners on the supplies they purchase for these inmates to higher their annual income. Replacing their food with cheap substituted options, taking in more inmates then their capacity states, decreasing their medical options, removing educational classes, and replacing their beds and clothing with cheaper options isn’t uncommon. In the eyes of the cooperation, the more inmates they can house at a cheaper cost results in bigger profit margins each year. While inmates are struggling in prison, cooperation leaders are sitting back and watching the cash stack up.

I find this type of prison to be disturbing. I believe it is the governments job to review the basic federal regulations currently in place for private prisons. By implementing mandatory programs and supplies these prisons must provide, solutions will be made. The cooperation’s will still be earning money and our tax payers will save around $144 Million a year. Not only is the money a huge part of private prisons, but the fight to help reduce overcrowding will be continued.

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Please feel free to comment your opinions on private prisons below!

Rotating Prison Door

In our prison system today, the recidivism rates are out of control. Meaning that the amount of criminals that are locked up time and time again is crazy. We see this kind of behavior in drug users especially. An individual will get arrested and serve their time and then commits another crime and is put back in prison. This happens so often that the term “rotating door” has come to light. Much like a rotating door at a restaurant, drug users are caught in a circle of using, getting arrested, being released, and using again. The rotation never stops which has shown us how retribution isn’t working as much as rehabilitation can. The entire reason harsher drug sentencing has come to light is to deter individuals from using drugs. Since these individual’s sentences haven’t deterred them from future drug use, I believe rehabilitation is key.

Using prison treatment programs would be immensely effective in lowering recidivism rates in our nation. Lowering recidivism rates would also help lower prison overcrowding and racial disparities we are currently facing. Prison treatment programs are programs within the prison that help drug users deal with their addiction. These types of treatments are over 60% effective in lowering the amount of drug users return to prison. One type of program being used is called Therapeutic Communities (TC). TC is a group of inmates that are secluded from the general public in prisons. They spend their days dealing with their addictions together. This is done by having AA type meetings, and having people trained in counseling come support the inmates. Inmates have described this process as the most difficult and beneficial experience they have gone through. The only problem we face with treatment programs is that they are only offered in a select few prisons today. By implementing these in every prison, I believe the results would be astonishing.

Comment below what you think of the rotating prison door and prison treatment programs!

Prison Overcrowding

Our prison system today is struggling from an immense amount of prison overcrowding. Prison overcrowding is a term used to describe prisons holding more inmates then their original capacity states they can. This is an issue because it causes inmates to be piled up like animals. Prison overcrowding started to become an issue in our system when the War on Drugs appeared. The harsher sentences for drug crimes have caused the court system to incarcerate individuals at an accelerated rate. With the sudden increase of inmates, the government hasn’t been able to keep up.

Prison overcrowding has resulted in negative ways. Since there are a lot of prisoners shoved together, the chances of fights and diseases are heightened. This is terrifying because if the inmates come together, riots can easily break out. Since the inmates outnumber the guards at such an incredible rate it isn’t hard for inmates to fight back. Prison overcrowding is not only putting the lives of our inmates at danger, but also our correctional officers. In California the inmate population in our prisons have been around 144,000 to 110,000. This doesn’t sound too terrible until you hear that their prisons designed capacity is 80,000 inmates. Meaning prisons in California are holding more than 30,000 more inmates then its designed to. Prisons have done this by taking cells with two beds and welding beds on top of them to create bunk beds. Which in turn means that cells that were originally supposed to only hold two individuals is now holding four.

Prison overcrowding has resulted in Private Prison’s to come up and help relieve the issues federal prisons have. I will talk more about Private Prisons later in my blog. I believe that the biggest solution to reducing prison overcrowding is to reduce sentencing on nonviolent individuals. The government is using an insane amount of money to house all of these inmates and the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Comment below on how you feel about prison overcrowding!

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Racial Disparities

Since the War on Drugs, individuals of color have been undoubtedly targeted. Before the war on drugs in 1971 there was around 200,000 African Americans in our prison system, today there is over 2 million African Americans in our prisons. The use of racial discrimination and an unequal drug war has put an immense amount of suffering on communities of color. Discrimination in our country has reached every level of our criminal justice system. People of color are more likely to be stopped and frisked by police officers, twice as likely to face a mandatory minimum sentences, and are more likely to be incarcerated. In our prison system today, African Americans take up 80% of the inmates in our federal prisons. This is beyond unfair. To make things even worse, over half of the inmates are in prison for either possession or marijuana charges.

Judges have been forced to hand out life sentences on young black men like it’s candy. It’s astonishing to me that possession crimes can receive that type of punishment in today’s society. Although studies have been proven that Caucasians abuse drugs more than African Americans, Caucasians aren’t targeted. Our society talk’s about how drug use is a young African American man’s problem but yet the statistics don’t correlate. While people of color are forced to rot behind bars, wealthy white men continue their drug use at their desks. One example of this is Jordan Belford. Although Jordan Belford was taken into custody for his white collar crimes, his drug use was out of control. Belford’s famous life movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, accurately depicts how frequently bankers use drugs during their office hours but yet the government doesn’t care about them.

While I believe the entire War on Drugs reform needs to be reviewed, I think it’s crucial for our government to realize what they’re doing to our society. Discriminating races is beyond disgusting and outdated. I think it’s important to readjust how the system approaches young African American men specifically. Reviewing the cases of inmates currently serving time can be a hassle but also give us many solutions. By reviewing cases we can reevaluate the minimum sentences being faced for marijuana possession. This will in turn benefit our prison system by releasing nonviolent inmates whom have served their time and also reduce the amount of racial discrepancies in prison. Implementing treatment programs will also help be affective on giving people of color treatment options for their drug addictions. This is crucial because these inmates may or may not have the resources to seek treatment outside of prison by themselves. Giving this type support system shows inmates their not alone in their addictions and can drastically turn their lives around.

Feel free to comment below your opinions on racial disparities in our criminal justice system!