The American prison system has a serious problem: It doesn’t work. More and more reports are coming out about how the incarceration system simply doesn’t accomplish its goals of rehabilitating people. Instead, an increasingly large number of people are simply being locked up for longer and longer sentences – in many cases, with no discernible benefit.
For example, many people believe that crime rates, especially for violent crimes, go down when there are strict laws and sentences in place. However, studies find that this is almost never the case. Crime rates don’t drop, violent crime still continues and prison doesn’t seem to work as a deterrent.
Why does this happen?
There are many reasons for this, but one of them is simply that people are often more concerned with whether or not they will be caught. Someone who is in the process of breaking the law often is not thinking about the potential ramifications. They’re not going to be more deterred if they know they have to spend five years behind bars instead of one year. Instead, they’ll make their decision based on the likelihood that they will be caught at all. Most people simply assume that they won’t.
What would work instead?
There are some systems that have been shown to be more effective. An example of this could be the drug court system, which allows those arrested on nonviolent drug crimes to go through a treatment program, rather than spending time in jail. This type of model may not be able to be applied to all criminal activity, but it does show that alternatives can be more effective than traditional methods.
As such, those who are facing legal charges need to be very sure that they understand all the options they have at their disposal.