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Jails and Prison Comparison

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Jails and Prisons Comparison University of Phoenix

CJA/234

Ms. Pamela Collinshill
June 25, 2013

Introduction:

For more than two hundred years the United States has used incarceration to punish any and all criminals. Jails and prisons are the institutions that judges send criminals to so they can serve time depending on the seriousness of the crime that the individual has committed. Being incarcerated is the humane form of punishment that is used considering how they used to punish individuals back in older times, when criminal justice was looked at differently.

Jails

Jail is a place where a criminal is confined to temporarily while awaiting trial or conviction of any type of minor offenses. The first jails were created in England in 1166 by King Henry II. Jails were used to house poor people, displaced people, mentally ill people, and criminals and the conditions in which the jails were; dirty, little and poor food, little or no medical attention, and full of violence. When John Howard became sheriff in 1773 he was appalled by these conditions and created the Penitentiary Act of 1779. “This act created four requirements for English prisons and jails: (1) secure and sanitary structures, (2) systematic inspections, (3) abolition of fees charged to inmates, and (4)a reformatory regime in which inmates were confined to solitary cells but worked in common rooms during the day. The act also detailed the requirements for diet, uniforms, and hygiene for prisoners.” (Seiter, 2011)

State and Federal Prison:

The history of state and federal prisons goes way back to the 1700’s beginning with the Penitentiary Era (1790) which was created to have a more humane reaction to social defiance rather than stocks, flogging, and public humiliation. Mass Prison Era (1825) which brought about the Auburn System. Reformatory Era (1876) the attempt to make inmates more humanized so they are able to fit better into society. Industrial Era (1890) increase security and safety measures. Punitive Era (1938) the thinking that punishment is the best thing for the inmates and needed to pay their debts to the society with long term sentences. Treatment Era (1945) the thought of being a criminal was a mental health problem that could be fixed with therapy and counseling as well as education. Community – Based Era (1967) inmates were considered to be poorly socialized and incarceration was seen as dehumanizing. Warehousing Era (1980) loss of faith in the treatment and rehabilitation of the inmates. Just Desserts Era (1995) no tolerance and increased sentences. All of these different eras, methods, and techniques have led us into the way the United States now runs the state and federal prisons.

Security Levels:

“Security levels (minimum, low, medium, high and administrative) are distinguished by such security features as towers and other perimeter security barriers such as fences or walls, with detection devices, the type of housing for prisoners (cells or dormitory), and the staff – to – inmate ratio.” (Seiter, 2011) There are some differences as well as similarities between security levels in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons. Federal prisons in the U.S. are prisons that are not run by the states but solely by the United States Federal Government. Federal prisons are maximum security prisons and house criminals who commit federal offenses. State prisons are prisons maintained by each specific state for the imprisonment of felons. Private prisons are correctional institutions that are privately owned and operated by private firms for the local or state government. Jails are used for short- term confinement facilities that are operated locally. Jails mainly hold people who are pending trials or ones who have just got arrested. So while federal prisons are to be considered maximum security levels, city jails can be considered minimum to low security levels, depending on the individual who is being arrested. State prison can be considered medium to high security levels.

Comparing the two:

A huge factor in the way jails, state and federal prisons are run is due to the growth in these facilities. “As of June 30, 2008, the states operated almost 1,250 prisons holding approximately 1.41 million inmates. Between 1980 and 2008, the federal inmate population increased dramatically from just over 24,000 to over 200,000. At midyear 2008, the nation’s 3,376 local jails held 785,556 inmates.” (Sieter, 2011) Some influencing factors as to why the number of inmates has increased is the get tough on crime way of thinking that society has encouraged. The public and judges do not want any individual who is to be considered dangerous to be back on the streets therefore they set high bails as to keep them locked up. Another reason is the pressure of the war on drugs the more individuals that they arrest and question the closer they are to ending the war. Society and the public have a lot to do with the increase of inmates, they want to feel safe and they will take any measures to achieve this goal.

Conclusion:

In conclusion our government has established these incarceration facilities for our own good and to keep the bad out of society. It has been this way for many years and it has been changed to suit the community in the best ways possible. This is the most humane way possible for our legal systems and society to deal with the criminals that are upon us. While prisons and jails have changed for the better of the inmates, what hasn’t changed is the legal system that puts them there. As great as the legal system is, it’s getting to be “too great”, where the prisons and jails become too crowded and inmates are released. What needs to be done, is an overhaul of the population management along the county, city, state and federal systems. The idea is there, it just needs to be executed.

References:

Seiter, R. (2011) Corrections an introduction (3rd edition). Upper

Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall

Jail vs. Prison. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.diffen.com/difference/Jail_vs_Prison

State and Federal Prisons: A History of Growth. (2012). Retrieved from

http://jeffoakes.me/2011/09/10/state-and-federal-prisons-a-history-of-growth/

Why Have Prison Secuirty Rating Levels. (2010). Retrieved from

http://www.jailguide.com/security_level.php

US Prison Security Levels: From Minimum to Maximum. (2012). Retrieved from

http://gypsumgirl.hubpages.com/hub/US-Prison-Security-Levels-From-Minimum-to-Maximum

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