Are Prisons Really Effective?

Jalisha Rowen, Staff Writer

The topic in question that has been up for debate for years is, “Are prisons really effective?” and to that, I would answer: yes they are. Prison is one of the most effective ways of handling high-level felony crimes. It reduces the number of criminal acts committed and it indicates all poor decisions can and will lead to some dreadful consequences.

Crime isn’t something to be taken lightly nor any offenses that are considered unlawful and neither should prison. A prison is a place for criminals to rot and think about their life decision. According to the dictionary, “Prison is a building in which people are legally held as a form of punishment for a crime they have committed or awaiting trial.” Prison often gets mixed up with jail, but these are two totally different places; jail is for things like shoplifting, and these people often get lesser sentences. While in prison, it’s for individuals who are convicted of felony-level crimes such as murders, molesters, and scammers.

A crime that a vast majority of people tend to look over is stealing; almost everyone has “accidentally” taken something they shouldn’t have, whether it was at a market, gas station, school, or even someone’s house, and while some may say that stealing isn’t a “big deal” it is. It’s theft. According to the article, “Larceny in Florida” by Meltzer’s and Bell, P.A., it states, “If a person steals an item that is valued at $100 or more but it’s less than $750, then they are committing petty theft of the first degree, and this is also a first-degree misdemeanor. They may have to go to prison for up to one year and pay a $1,000 fine.”

That is a lot of money to be fined and a lot of time is missed, for what you want a bit of luxury in your life. It’s pointless. For many people, especially teens, it may not be a big deal since they’re not the ones that will have to be fined, it will be their parents or guardians. But Imagine how many birthdays and holidays they’re going to miss because of reckless decisions. Some prisons don’t even have an opening to a see-through glass window so that their loved ones can touch them and that’s a scary thought for many people, the lack of human touch and love.

So, prison is effective in the sense that it frightens many individuals.

Another way that prison is effective is because of the education being provided to the inmates. According to the article “Is Prison An Effective Form Of Punishment” by The University Of Law, it states, “A black woman said that being in prison had forced her to take level 1 and 2 English and Maths. She had been putting it off when she was in society but being in prison allowed her to take the time to do it. She passed and felt that she would have better prospects leaving the prison than when she came in. Additionally, she had been trained on how to clean up chemical spills and learned all about the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH). Again, she learned new skills that she felt she would be able to use in the outside world.”

According to statistics, 68% of state prison inmates did not receive a high school diploma; that is more than half. The prison system is allowing them to get a chance at improving their education if they want to and this is tremendously helpful. This is going to expand the person’s mind, giving them another way to look at the world and they will be more literate if they weren’t already. Why do you think that many people, especially rappers who have been to jail and prison usually have a high vocabulary? Because they have the time and resources to study.

This also ties in with the fact that people can improve themselves in prison. According to the article, “Is Prison An Effective Form Of Punishment” by The University Of Law, it states, “Another example came from a woman who said that her prison experience allowed her to improve herself, deal with previous traumas, and come up with ways to deal with this. She used the prison experience to identify what things triggered previous traumas and how to deal with them, as well as living in the moment. In this sense, sometimes prison can be used as a period of reflection and self-improvement.”

Time spent in prison can rehabilitate people in the most wonderful ways or the worst and that’s a choice they have to take. I mean, think about it. You’re spending months and years in a cell having all the time to think about your past mistakes, past traumas, and past addictions. Now, I’m not saying you should go out and get arrested, but I’m just saying prison is a really effective method for people, especially those who are still grieving over a death of a loved one or the past trauma of a rapist. It brings closure to them knowing that the person is locked up and gone for a while.