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To what extent does the Prison system sucessfully achieve t

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Katherine Bayley

on 12 April 2015

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Transcript of To what extent does the Prison system sucessfully achieve t

To what extent does the prison system sucessfully achieve the aims of punishment?
The term 'reform' refers to the 19th century development of prison regimes combining hard labour and religious instruction in order to change offenders (Carrabine et al 2014: 297).

However, the term 'rehabilitation' entails individualized treatment programmes introduced in the 20th century in conjunction with the welfare state (Carrabine et al 2014: 297).

The Treatment Model
From the information gathered, it can be argued that the UK prison system is failing to successfully complete most of the main aims of punishment. In previous years before the eradication of capital punishment, prison systems successfully achieved vindication and deterrence.
However there are some that have been proven to work such as rehabilitation and reparation.
Removes the offender from society, therefore making it virtually impossible for them to commit further crimes against the general public whilst serving their sentence.

Incapacitation aims to prevent future crimes by taking away the offender’s ability to commit offenses.

Incapacitation works as long as the offender remains in prison, there are however some problems with this.

Although protection is incredibly important it is also very expensive as in order to 'protect' society we have to build and operate prisons.
Incapacitation also causes problems in terms of disrupting families when a member of someone's family is locked up there are many knock on effects of this.

Prisons are often referred to as a 'breeding ground' for crime and 'schools for criminals', suggesting that whilst incarcerated they actually learn and engage in more criminal activity, which arguably makes them all the more dangerous when released.

On average, a prisoner walks out of prisons in England and Wales without permission once every 43 hours.
Protection/ Incapacitation
2000-01 - 787
2001-02 - 781
2002-03 - 947
2003-04 - 1,301
2004-05 - 870
2005-06 - 709
2006-07 - 553
2007-08 - 511
2008-09 - 361
2009-10 - 269
2010-11 - 235
2011-12 - 175
2012-13 - 204
Number of Prisoners that have absconded from prison in England and Wales (BBC News).
Noel smith was serving a life sentence in prison for an armed bank robbery.

He escaped for 79 days, during which he committed a further 15 bank robberies.
Prison can have a detrimental social impact, as it disrupts and weakens relationships.
It especially affects children of someone in prison.

Children with a parent in prison are

Twice as likely to experience conduct and mental health problems, and less likely to do well at school.
Three times more likely to be involved in offending. Sixty five per cent of boys with a convicted father will go on to offend themselves. (Barnados 2014).
Problems with Protection
Prisoners are also not well protected as they are surrounded by other criminals, and subject to an increased level of violence.

Self harm in prison is a major problem, and every year there are multiple cases of suicide in custody.
Reparation is an example of restorative justice, in which criminals must 'rebalance the scale of justice' when they have done something wrong.
Since September 2011
low-risk prisoners who work outside of prison to prepare for their eventual release will see up to 40 per cent of their net weekly wages over £20 go to services which support victims of crime.
The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Nick Herbert, said:

‘For too long the financial burden of repairing the damage done by crime has fallen to the taxpayer alone. By bringing into force the Prisoners’ Earnings Act, this Government is making a significant and overdue change.' (Ministry of Justice, September 2011).

‘Making offenders pay financial reparation to victims will require them to take personal responsibility for their crimes and go some way towards making redress to victims through the funding of crucial support services.’
'What works?'

Vindicate [vin¦di|cate/ˈvɪndɪkeɪt]   
Show or prove to be right, reasonable, or justified (Oxford Dictionary 2014).

In criminology, we refer to vindication as an aim of punishment that means offenders must be punished to show that the law must be respected and is right.

In 1707, capital punishment was introduced as a form of vindication, which was later on abolished in the 20th century.

Most death penalty punishments were public executions, and were committed not only for the vindication of the law; to show that the law is right and must be respected, but also as a deterrent; to prevent offending.

However, it can be argued that the prison systems fail to achieve vindication as an aim of punishment. The constant public and media calls for the reintroduction of capital punishment, suggest that traditional forms of punishment such as banishment, beheading, burning, crucifixion, drowning etc. worked better at proving vindication than imprisonment, today.

Studies have also shown re-offending reconviction rates for offenders released from custody or given a non-custodial sentence peaked at 45.2% for the 2002-03 cohort [Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Main Findings (2010)].

Thus, it can be argued this fear/respect individuals have for the prison system and law is merely fabricated, as quite a large percentage of adult prisoners reconvicted within one year of their release.
Lack of Vindication
Success of Vindication
Deterrent [de¦ter|rent/dɪˈtɛr(ə)nt]  
A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something: cameras are a major deterrent to crime. [(2014). deterrent. (Oxford Dictionary 2014)].


Deterrence means putting criminals off offending or re-offending for fear of the consequences. This view is consistent with Christian teaching as long as the deterrent is proportionate to the crime. Long sentences for minor offences may put some criminals off but they are also unjust in themselves.
Problems with Deterrence
It can be argued, that the prison system fails to achieve deterrence, on the grounds that people continue to offend despite the law and criminals continue to re-offend.

In fact, research consistently suggests that ‘drug-involved offenders are more likely to recidivate than other offenders placed on probation or sentenced to incarceration’. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1994; Langan & Levin, 2002, Spohn, 2007; Spohn & Holleran, 2002).
Rational Choice Theory
In Criminology, the rational choice theory adopts a utilitarian belief that man is a reasoning actor who weighs means and ends, costs and benefits, and makes a rational choice (Piquero et al. 2002).

Crime is influenced by opportunity. Opportunity of a crime can be related to cost benefits, socioeconomic status, risk of detection, etc.

Expressive crimes can include: non pre-mediated murder such as manslaughter, and assault. As a result, punishment is only effective in deterring instrumental crime.

It can, however, be argued that the prison system achieves vindication, as it has installed fear and respect for the law into ex-convicts, as a satisfactory (54.8%) of offenders have respected the law by not re-offending. [Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Main Findings.(2010)].

Also amongst citizens, there is an understanding that they must abide to the law in order to avoid imprisonment and whatever circumstances may occur. For a large number of ex-convicts, there biggest restraint is not the time they spend in prison but the fact that they are constantly identified as prisoners.

When placed in prison, the criminal is stripped of their identity and items and given a number to be referred to as. They simply become a piece of 'clockwork,' as they are excluded from society and their lives are completely controlled by the law; this way they are compelled to fear and respect the law.
The idea that 'prison does not work'.

According to the Ministry of Justice (2012), 48% of adults released from prison are known to reoffend within a year.

Additionally, an earlier study found that after 7 years, 73% of released prisoners had been convicted of another offence (Kershaw 1999: 11 cited in Cavadino et al. 2013: 39).
Prevention of Deterrence
According to the Ministry of Justice, offenders released from longer sentences, go on to commit fewer crimes after being released than those serving shorter jail terms.
According to the figures, only a third of offenders given sentences of between two and four years went back to crime within a year.

The Social Contract Theory
According to philosopher Thomas Hobbes, in the 'state of nature' life would be nasty, brutish and short' so to stop this, we must form an invisible 'contract' with the government.

We must appoint one person or assembly of persons with the authority and power to enforce the initial contract.

To ensure their escape from the State of Nature, they must both agree to live together under common laws, and create an enforcement mechanism for the social contract and the laws that constitute it.
The authority has the right to limit our liberty, and impose laws and we follow them in return for protection of ourselves and out property. (Hampton 1988).

'Nothing Works'
An Alternate Solution
Use of imprisonment as a sanction has grown across much of the Western world (Roberts et al. 2003).

Nagin and colleagues (2006) asked members of the Pennsylvanian public how much additional tax they would be willing to pay to bring about a measureable reduction in juvenile crime.

Replicated by Piquero and Steinberg (2010) in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington two years later.
"'Nothing works... whatever you do to offenders makes no difference'" (Cavadino et al. 2013).

Rehabilitation programmes: (Andrews et al. 1990 cited in Maguire et al. 2012: 1002)
Appropriate treatment
Address specific criminogenic needs
Use methods that fit learning style

Family Man/Fathers Inside programme (Schuller 2012).
In order to punish a criminal, a set of aims must be set in place. Through the use of rehabilitation, protection, reparation, vindication, deterrence and retribution, the prison system is able to incarcerate offenders. However, whether this is a successful method of punishing convicts is a question to be considered.
Retribution is defined as ‘
punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act
’. (Oxford University Press, 2014).

The idea of retribution is generally related to the quote ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ which suggests that the same amount of harm a person inflicts on another human being, they should receive in return. This shows a complete misunderstanding of the phrase in the Old Testament which actually means that ‘Justice is to be equitable. Only the guilty should be punished, neither too harsh nor too leniently’. (BBC, 2014)

Criminologist Beccaria (2010: 279) states that ‘
the severity of a punishment should be proportionate for the gravity of the offense
’ in support of this idea.
Capital Punishment
In 1965, MPs in Britain voted to abolish the death penalty in the UK for committing the offence of murder. Although the death penalty is non-existent in the UK, it is still a worldwide problem. (BBC n.d.).

Human life is highly valued, and every individual human being has the right to live. By sentencing a person to death and then executing them violates this right. However, it is argued those who commit murder are essentially forfeiting their right to live. (BBC, 2014).

German philosopher Immanuel Kant believe that it is better for one man to die than for many others to suffer as if he didn’t die, human life would become invaluable. He further suggests that ‘whoever has committed murder, must die’. (White 2006).
UK Life Sentences
The debate as to whether retribution acts as a deterrent has been a topic of discussion for decades.

Receiving a life sentence in the UK is equivalent to receiving the death penalty abroad. This is the only sentence that can be imposed on anyone over the age of 21 who is convicted of murder. In 1993, 9% of the sentenced prison population were serving indeterminate or life sentences, however by 2012 this had risen to 12%. (Prison Reform Trust 2013).

The current number of recorder homicides is steadily decreasing with there being 530 in 2011/12 and 551 in 2012/13 which have been the lowest rates since 1989 when there were 521 (Office for National Statistics 2014). We can use this information to argue that the decrease in the number of homicides being committed is due to the successful implication of retribution within the criminal justice system.

Currently in the UK there are 13,385 prisoners who are serving indeterminate sentences (Ministry of Justice 2013) however, all prisoners are still human beings so they still have the right to respect and dignity although they are subject to certain restrictions.
Benefits for Society
The implementation of criminal laws and its consequences such as sentencing provides a solid picture of the dominant norms and values within society. Without this reinforcement, the justification of the legal system may be undermined which may could lead to negativity and a lack of trust in the legal system from the members society.

Populist conservatives believe that ‘punishment is essentially about devising penalties to fit the crime and ensuring that they are carried out, thus reinforcing social values’. (Burke 2013: 47)
Barnados. (2014). Children affected by parental imprisonment. Available: http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/children_of_prisoners.htm. Last accessed 29th November 2014.

BBC (2014) BBC – Ethics – Capital Punishment [online] available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/capitalpunishment/for_1.shtml [24 November 2014].

BBC (n.d.) 1969: MPs vote to abolish hanging [online] available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/16/newsid_3258000/3258437.stm [24 November 2014].

Burke, R. H. (2013)
An Introduction to Criminological Theory
. 4th edn. Cullompton: Willan.

Carrabine, E., Cox, P., Fussey, P., Hobbs, D., South, N., Thiel, D., and Turton, J. (2014)
Criminology A Sociological Introduction
. 3rd edn. New York: Routledge.

Cavadino, M., Dignan, J., and Mair, G. (2013)
The Penal System An Introduction
. 5th edn. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Dallas News (2014) Ethan Couch sentenced to unspecified amount of rehab in crash that killed 4, injured 2 [online] available from http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20140205-ethan-couch-sentenced-to-unspecified-amount-of-rehab-in-crash-that-killed-4-injured-2.ece [3 December 2014].

Jones, C. G. A., and Weatherburn, Don J. (2011) 'Willingness to Pay for Rehabilitation Versus Punishment to Reduce Adult and Juvenile Crime'.
Australian Journal of Social Issues.
46 (1), 9-27.

Maguire, M., Morgan, R., and Reiner, R. (eds.) (2012)
The Oxford Handbook of Criminology.
5th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ministry of Justice (2012)
Proven Re-offending Quarterly - October 2009 to September 2010
. London: Ministry of Justice.

Ministry of Justice (2013) Offender management statistics quarterly - October - December 2012 [online] available from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/offender-management-statistics-quarterly--2 [28 November 2014].

Office for Official Statistics (2014) Chapter 2 – Homicide [online] available from http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/focus-on-violent-crime-and-sexual-offences--2012-13/rpt---chapter-2---homicide.html?format=print [28 November 2014].

Oxford University Press (2014) Retribution: definition of retribution [online] available from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/retribution [24 November 2014].

Prison Reform Trust (2013) Prison: the facts [online] available from http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Prisonthefacts.pdf [28 November 2014].

Roberts, J. (2003) 'Evaluating the Pluses and Minuses of Custody: Sentencing Reform in England and Wales'.
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
. 42.

Schuller, T. (2012) 'Learning for Life Outside'.
Adults Learning.
23 (3), 30-31.

White, J. (2006)
Contemporary Moral Problems
. New York: West Publishing Co.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/deterrent. Last accessed 2014.]

The Influence of Power
Case of 16 year old Ethan Couch (Dallas News 2013)
Drink drive incident
Killed four pedestrians
Pleaded guilty

In March 2012, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced a 14 year old black teenager to 10 years in prison.
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