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US Correctional System Essay

A correctional system is a network of legal agencies with granted authority to make pronouncements on legal issues geared toward administration of justice within a prison setting or a parole system. The goals of this system are to punish the perpetrators of criminal activities through various mechanisms, to protect the general population from harms associated with crimes, and finally to transform criminals into responsible, law abiding and productive citizens through well structured rehabilitation programs.

This paper will focus on how the correctional system is utilized to achieve the above mentioned objectives and investigate which strategy between punishment and rehabilitation is the most effective in reducing crime. Punishment of those proved guilty of bleaching the law is a major goal of the correctional system and serves as a deterrent against one repeating an offence in addition to suppressing criminal thoughts of others who might be contemplating evil (eHow, Inc, 2010). A good number of mechanisms are applied and incarceration is the most common.

It entails imprisonment or confinement of criminals in facilities such as prisons, local jails for persons convicted in state courts, federal prisons for those convicted in federal courts, and several residential institutions including training schools for juveniles. Another form of punishment is probation which is a sentencing option for offences of lesser magnitude and offers a second chance to first time offenders to reconstruct their behavior. Criminals who serve under this sentence have been convicted of crimes but have served only a part of the sentence in prison or not at all.

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Persons on probation are required by the court to adhere to certain conditions and guidelines under the supervision of a probation officer. These conditions include abiding to a curfew, living at a specified place or not leaving the jurisdiction at all, subjection to community service, and obeying the orders of the probation officer among other conditions. Probation can be seen as a suspension of a sentence during which, the offender is accorded liberty conditioned on behavior change with the state having the obligation of assisting the offender to maintain commendable conduct (Sutherland, Cressey & Luckenbill, 1992).

Death penalty as a form of punishment was re-instated in 1976 and it is almost exclusively used for crimes of murder (Bryant, 2003). Over the course of time, several amendments on this law have been made with several states implementing new laws which allow death sentence for the rape of a minor. Other statutes allow death penalty for non-murder crimes including treason, placing a bomb near a bus terminal, aircraft hijacking, and drug trafficking, among others. Different methods of execution have been prescribed by the federal government and the 37 states that have statutes allowing death penalty (Regoli & Hewitt, 2009).

These methods are electrocution, lethal injection, firing squad, hanging, and lethal gas, though no states provide for either of the last three as the sole method of execution. Rehabilitation is an approach entrenched within the correctional system and is meant to punish offenders in a more positive way with the understanding that the offenders are sick and require gradual cure and reconstruction of their moral and social discipline before their release. This strategy is taken to be an effective mechanism of shifting a criminal from being a liability to the society to being an asset.

It can be accomplished through vocational training, drug rehabilitation treatment, and counseling (eHow, Inc, 2010). Vocational training for instance offers criminals a chance to acquire a variety of job skills which consequently shapes them into productive members of the society and helps them to fight hopelessness, lack, and low self esteem which they might be struggling to overcome. Counseling is also a viable method of rehabilitating criminals and can be done either individually or in groups. Group counseling aims at triggering a positive influence among criminals by sharing the wide niche of experience from its members.

Group activities and interactions also help significantly in providing solutions to the problems among peers such as how to break links of ealier relationships with undesirable people. Drug addiction and alcoholism is also a menace that has jeopardized cohesive existence and has threatened state security. There are a staggering number of drug rehab centres whose goal is to assist drug addicts and alcoholics heal physically, mentally, socially and spiritually and re-establish themselves in a drug and alcohol-free setting (treatment- links.

net, 2010). To a great extent, capital punishment and long term imprisonments play a significant role as deterrent and incapacitation approaches against crimes. However, these strategies do not serve to heal the society from all facets of social relationships. According to Braithwaite, a legal system that relies on punishing criminals as the major approach of curbing crime, is destined for failure since it does not incorporate the voice of the victim (2002).

From my point of view, the rehabilitation approach carries a lot of potential in reducing criminal activities as it provides the criminal with a second chance of becoming a better and resourceful person through acquisition of skills and advice that fits his or her needs. Rehabilitation scores a major goal of ensuring that the offender gets a chance of acquiring some form of education, phsycological support, and treatment in case of drug addiction. Consequently, this can be more effective in eradicating the urge to go back to criminal activities.

In addition, rehabilitation generates a sense of healing and new life both to the offender and to the community after successful reformation. With regard to punishment, fear of being punished does not offer any better solution to criminal activities Braithwaite(2002). Rehabilitation therefore goes an extra mile in meeting the goals of the correctional system.


Braithwaite, J. ( 2002). Restorative justice and responsive regulation. Newyork: Oxford University Press US. Bryant, C. (2003). Handbook of Death and Dying. New Orleans: SAGE. eHow, Inc. (2010).Role of the Correctional System. Retrieved June 4, 2010, from http://www. ehow. com/about_5087269_role-correctional-system. html Regoli, R. , & Hewitt, J. (2009). Exploring Criminal Justice: The Essentials. Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Sutherland, E. H. , Cressey, D. R. , & Luckenbill, D. (1992). Principles of criminology. Newyork : Rowman Altamira. treatment-centers. net. (2010). Drug Addiction Treatment Centers, Alcohol Rehab Programs, Dual Diagnosis and Addiction Treatment Resources. Retrieved June 4, 2010, from http://www. treatment-centers. net/

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