Individuals are punished after they are sentenced. Corrections represents society’s efforts to punish individuals for crimes they commit.
The United States correctional system also has people who are not physically incarcerated but are still under some type of community supervision.
The United States has experienced an overall decline or slowing of the prison population since the early 2000’s.
Males do account for the vast majority of all individuals incarcerated, but statistics find that more women are going to jail.
People of color are disproportionately represented in the correctional system.
The majority of individuals who are sentenced to life in prison are sentenced for drug possession, not for major violent crimes.
Statistics indicate that as people age, they are less likely to commit a crime that will land them incarcerated.
Beginning with the 1970s and moving forward to today, there has been a tough stance on crime and as a result, the system has been more punitive.
Society was more fearful of crime and this was propagandized by media coverage of sensational violent crimes.
This harsh tough on crime stance, coupled with with mandatory minimum sentences, gave judges less discretion and has led to prison overcrowding.
There are four overarching correctional models.
Ultimately, it is the role and responsibility of corrections to keep societies safe.
The major models for punishment have conflicting ideals.
The punishment model contends that the offender is bad, which is why corrections is necessary.
The objective is to impose severe sanctions.
The prisoner themselves are not treated but rather punished, as to instill fear and deter them from further crime.
The crime control model is similar to the punishment model however, the goal is not necessarily harsh punishment but rather to contain and control people through incarceration or incapacitation.
The rehabilitation model was developed in the late 19th century, and was in response to recognizing that offenders are inherently good, but need to change their behavior.
Those in favor of the rehabilitation model contend that outside factors have contributed to criminality.
This model emphasizes job training, therapy, and education.
Also, instituting indeterminate sentencing, ensures that an inmate will remain incarcerated for as long as necessary to ensure readiness before being reintegrated back into society.
The reintegration model is an extension of the rehabilitation model and focuses on helping offenders reintegrate into the community after being incarcerated.
The objective is to offer a plethora of supervised, structured programs based on the concepts of restorative justice. Several studies have reported great levels of satisfaction for both offenders and victims from participating in restorative justice programs (Menkel-Meadow, 2007).
Restorative justice aims to repair harms to the society and the victim, and requires that offenders participate in community service and mediation (Menkel-Meadow, 2007). Feminists argue that restorative justice models decriminalize violence. There is also fear that it only works under the guise of long commitment times and significant resources (Menkel-Meadow, 2007).
The privatization of prisons involves the private sector managing the general functions of governmental programs.
Privatization began in the 1980s with the idea that a private-brand institution could run with less resources and become more efficient than government-ran programs.
Since the early 1980s, there has been a sharp increase in private, for-profit, prisons and represents a multibillion-dollar industry.
Today, most states contract with private firms to provide services and incarceration facilities for juveniles and adults.
Close to 20% of all federal prisoners and about 7% of state prisoners are housed in private institutions.
Statistics find that private prisons are no less expensive to operate than governmental prisons.
With privately-ran institutions, there are concerns with healthcare, education, job training, and rehabilitation services.
Furthermore, there have also been studies to report that corrections personnel are paid lower salaries and receive less training, in privately-ran prisons.
Scripture states “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb.12:9-11 (NIV).
Scripture states that we would be naïve to assume the rich and powerful don’t try to gain the political system to make money.
It’s reasonable to review privatization of prisons with this concern.
God’s plan was to love first. God wants us to repent and listen to what he has advised.
He will seek all other means before disciplining us. God wishes to discipline us as a very last resort.
However, when we fail to recognize God’s mercy in spirit, we are then subjected to correction.
God recognizes the importance of ensuring that when he does discipline, that the discipline and punishment fit the crime(s) committed.
This is to emphasize that we cannot get away with sin. God wishes for us to be holy around the process of becoming holy can be painful if we are on repentance of sin.
God has mandated the State to punish crimes, which are violations of the inalienable rights of others.
On one hand, we should uphold and support the State’s role in doing this. Romans 13:1-4 and Peter 2:11-14 provide further guidelines on this.
On the other hand, we should beware the notion of privatization, since it is a profit-based model that specifically requires a certain number of inmates to be christened in order to be financially sustainable and profitable.
The goal should be to cut back on crime and prisoner numbers rather than linking prisoner intake to a successful bottom line!
Isaiah 10:1-2, provides some warnings about how rich and powerful exploit the poor and fatherless.
Might there be some correlations to what we’re seeing today?