The goal of any prison is not to punish the offender by removing all hope of a better future from the person but instead focuses on reforming the offender and giving the offender a chance to enter society once again as a reformed individual. This is the reason why jails are often part of the Bureau of Corrections. The prison sentence served is but a part of the whole corrections or reformation process that an offender under goes once he has been found guilty and charged.
The next step lies in making sure that the individual remains reformed and is able to ease back into society or even into the life that he or she once had prior to entering the corrections facility. This is the ultimate goal of all correctional institutions all over the world but that is not necessarily the reality. One of the recent issues surrounding the Correctional System involves the institution of fitness programs by Prison Officials.
In recognition of the fact there is a need to reduce idleness, promote health and fitness, allow inmates to `burn off steam` through exercise, prison officials have ordered the conduct of a wide range of physical activities. While most of these recreational activities are relatively controversy-free, weightlifting remains to be one such controversial activity that many argue should no longer be allowed. Before arguing that weightlifting should not be allowed in prison, it is important to first lay out the advantages of allowing weightlifting.
As a form of exercise, it can be validly argued that weightlifting is important because it not only contributes more to the development of the body but it also helps a person maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Another advantage is the fact that the strenuous nature of weightlifting often provides the prisoners with the non-violent release that they need. It can even be argued that weightlifting reduces the incidence of inmate violence. Be that as it may, given the situation and the purpose of corrections, there are more negative effects of allowing weightlifting than positive ones.
The first reason is that it is shown that this activity increases testosterone levels and in doing so it increases the aggression levels of inmates. As studies have shown, violent cases occur more often near the weightlifting yard than any where else in the penitentiary. The sad truth of the matter is that instead of these offenders becoming reformed and turning into productive members of society once again, they invariably resort to committing more crime as has been shown in many studies conducted on the violence rates of offenders. As such, weightlifting should not be allowed.
Instead, however, there should be other recreational activities that are not solo activities. This is in an effort to increase socialization among members of the correctional facility. The socialization or in this case the re-socialization of the offender is an important step in the corrections process and one that cannot be simply ignored. It must be remembered that the purpose of socialization is to enable the offender to learn society’s ways, in this case to re-learn, and thereby control any antisocial behavior in an effort to come to a better decision with regard to what is right and what is wrong.
By ensuring that this important aspect is addressed through an efficient and effective parole program, the corrections institutions may stand a better chance at helping an individual willingly follow society’s norms and become a productive member of that society. This is supported by the Strain Theory of Robert K. Merton which concerns the tendency of an individual member of society to commit and act that is not synchronous with the goals of society thereby creating a “strain.
” In order to address the problem, there must be a better parole method that addresses the psychological needs of the offender and encourages the offender to take steps in order to be able to function as a productive member of society. It simply is not enough to have the prisoners engage in any sort of physical activity that they want. Corrections is not about punishment, it is about reformation and giving hope to those who have none.