The Cycle of Violence: America's Flawed Prison System

Statistics show that 2 out of 3 inmates released today are likely to return to prison within three years, revealing the shortcomings of America's prison systems in effectively rehabilitating inmates. By relying on punishment methods like isolation, segregation, and overcrowding, these systems fail to address the root causes of criminal behavior and hinder inmates' reintegration into society. Instead of fostering positive change, the system diminishes inmates' motivation and perpetuates a cycle of violence in prisons. Despite their goal of reforming individuals and preventing crime, prisons often have the opposite effect, leading even nonviolent offenders to become more dangerous.

For example, a drug trafficker may receive a shorter sentence than someone convicted of multiple murders facing life imprisonment.

The DOC's practice of housing inmates with varying offenses together in the same cell illustrates their efforts to control prisoners, often creating fear and tension by mixing non-violent offenders with violent ones. This increases the risk of harm from a violent inmate towards their cellmate, forcing the latter to defend themselves.

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This intentional blending of different criminals ultimately results in outbreaks of violence. Being confined to a small cell for extended periods, cut off from human interaction, with little stimulation and occasional hunger is a harsh reality experienced frequently in American prisons due to the longstanding practice of solitary confinement.

Isolation can greatly affect a person's mental health, particularly when they are isolated in solitary confinement and neglected. Inmates in this situation are stripped of their humanity and mistreated, despite having family who love them. The hiring process for correctional staff at the DOC is flawed, but there are officers who risk their own safety to oversee inmates.

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Some officers misuse their authority, resulting in violent incidents. While some officers genuinely care about the well-being of inmates, others exhibit manipulative and immature behavior that fuels conflict.

The only difference is the uniforms they're wearing. The requirements to become a correctional officer is to provide security and to enforce the rules, not to contribute to the chaos! As a new inmate entering the system, there is one factor that everybody recognizes about you…The color of your skin. Instead of providing a place where segregation is at a minimum, prisons all across America are dealing with gang violence and race issues. These issues are known as "Prison Politics" to some. No matter who you are, or where you're from, when entering prison you become identified by your skin tone. The level of gangs and cultural groups are so high, that often inmates have no choice but to follow the crowd. Sure, they could choose not to cooperate in the gang life, but where does that leave them? Then they will become the targets with no defense. The pressure to become accepted is so important in prison survival, that some inmates will throw away their morals just to protect themselves. Prison officials often condone the promotion of racial segregation. If one person of a specific race was found suspicious, they have the right to lock down every person of the same nationality.

Grouping inmates of the same race together is a common practice to prevent conflicts, although it may not address gang involvement adequately. While there are classes on drug intervention, education, and religion in prison, racial acceptance is often overlooked. Introducing a class on this subject may not alter inmates' beliefs significantly but would show an effort to decrease segregation rates. The release of an inmate should be a joyful moment for them to utilize their acquired knowledge and inspiration towards building a new life free from their past. Regrettably, this is seldom the reality.

The parole and release process has become increasingly chaotic in recent years, resulting in inmates being unprepared to reintegrate into society. Despite spending years in institutionalized settings, many are released without proper support or guidance. This lack of preparation frequently causes them to revert to old behaviors when faced with the difficulties of life outside prison. Inadequate post-release support is a significant contributor to the high rates of recidivism among these individuals.

Despite their release, inmates receive no support, highlighting a clear issue with the prison system that requires significant improvement. It is essential for more individuals to pay attention to these correctional departments as the problem may seem insignificant until a loved one is affected by it. The prisons are disorganized, lacking resources, and inhumane, leading to continued criminal activities among inmates due to the absence of a solid rehabilitation system. Therefore, these facilities should prioritize improvement over fostering corruption.

Updated: Feb 21, 2024
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The Cycle of Violence: America's Flawed Prison System. (2016, Aug 12). Retrieved from

The Cycle of Violence: America's Flawed Prison System essay
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