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Alexis Price Instructor: Malcolm Campbell English 1102 25 March, 2014 The Cycle of Criminality Prison. A simple word with a strong, demeaning connotation. When thinking of a prison facility and its purposes, one typically thinks of the three main functions it serves. SarahMuCucloch.com is a website that states that prisons were created to punish the prisoner, to protect the public, and to rehabilitate the offender to prevent them from committing another crime. In most cases, these functions are not carried out in the right way. They are fulfilled but in a way that ends up hurting society even more and continuing what is called a prison system cycle. Picture this scenario: A young man is released from prison after a year-long drug related sentence. His first thought is, What do I do now? He has no money, no job and no social standing in the community. He is all alone. Thrown back into society to figure out a life that would be difficult for anyone. Trying and failing to get a job to pay for food and shelter, the man turns back to drug dealing and other illegal activities to earn money in order to survive. Eventually he gets caught and is incarcerated again which keeps the prison system cycle alive. Many aspects of our prisons are causing them to fail our people and our society and they must be changed. Gangs are a major problem in prisons right now and are showing no signs of getting corrected. Depending on where the convict grew up, how his or her life environment was, and other factors, upon entering prison, they might already be in a gang. If so, when they arrive they

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find their people and are welcomed into the gangs section with friendship and a guarantee of protection if they follow the rules set by the other gang members. Most prisons have four or five main gangs and most of the gangs are broken up based off of color and race. Some examples of gangs from Listverses Top Ten Prison Gangs article are the Neta, a Hispanic gang, the 451 Kumi, an African American gang, and the Dead Man Inc, a Caucasian gang. (Listverse). Which prison gang you join determines your living situation, table you eat at during meals, and the area youre in for recreational outside yard-time. Everything depends on which gang youre in and how loyal you are. If one enters prison without previous affiliation with one of these groups, they have to hastily decide whether or not they want to get involved in the tricky business of gangs. Being in a gang Gangs is are a quick way for an inmates to gain even more prison time or get involved in activities that they werent previously involved in before being incarcerated. Drug dealing, plotting for revenge, and working with members outside of the facility in the real world all happen inside prisons every day. These activities, if caught participating in them, can gets a prisoner more jail time. Part of the problem with the gang system in prisons is the dirty guards who that help prisoners by delivering notes to other inmates and bringing in contraband in exchange for money or goods from the prisoners. Contraband is any type of material that has been brought into, or made in, the prison illegally such as drugs, weapons, and tobacco. With this contraband, gangs can run businesses within the walls and outside of the yards and even get other prisoners killed. This also teaches previously non-affiliated members how to be a real gangster. When the inmate is finally released from prison, they have a whole new lifestyle to partake in, a life of trapping and drug dealing that they learned or continued to participate in while in prison. Being surrounded by negative influences for months or even years can destroy

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and reconstruct a persons morals and beliefs. Having only other prisoners around creates a bad atmosphere and instead of getting the prisoners away from what got them incarcerated, our system puts them closer to it. As the famous saying goes, you are who you hang out with. We, as Americans who have not been in the system, say that prisons are for reforming, when in reality, they are causing more destruction harm than we think and are just temporarily getting one bad guy off the street while many more are being made. On the other side of the argument, people may say that they would rather have one bad guy temporarily in jail than have him or her on the streets. My reply to that would be that in prison, criminals learn more skills of crime from other inmates and when they are released from prison, most inmates are left with nothing so they have nothing to lose by committing crime again. They come out harder criminals than when they went into the institution. Temporarily getting them off the streets and into prison is only making them into more skilled criminals. Another way prisons are not helping the reform process of prisoners is giving them a public, life-long record of their incarceration. When one goes in for a job interview, the question, have you ever been incarcerated for any crime? is always asked. If the individual has been previously convicted, not many employers want to hire them. The individual could lie and answer with a no, but they then run the risk of getting caught and pnished for lying, or they could answer truthfully with a yes and not receive a paying job. This causes the prison cycle to continue. The world revolves around money., Wwithout it, its impossible to make a good life for oneself and ones family. The public record keeps released prisoners from having a job, making money, and taking care of their family. This is when they turn to drug dealing and other illegal jobs to get money. If they cant get money legally, they will obtain it illegally. When they get caught in their illegal acts they are sent back to prison and the cycle will continues.

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How should we change the public record issue? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 80 percent of U.S. employers perform criminal background checks on prospective employees. An idea brought up and put into motion by President Barack Obama is to, in a way, award good behavior. (Crime in America.net staff) If a low-grade criminal keeps a clean record three to five years after prior to their arrest, their record becomes sealed from the public eye. This is a great incentive for previous criminals to straighten up their act and get a real life put together. This also provides an out for the young, one-time convicted criminals that grow up and still cant get a job twenty years after their arrest. This option lowers the risk of employeers getting hustled and gives the criminal a huge incentive to stay out of trouble. Out of an estimated 1,571,013 prisoners in the US prison system, eight out of every ten of the released prisoners will go on to commit crimes again says the artice Crime in America. CrimeinAmerica.net. (CrimeinAmerica.net staff) The main reason for the relapse in bad behavior by these people is that they were never reformed while doing their time. The prison system, if anything, motivates the prisoners to be more violent and cause more issues. Reform and rehabilitation are major steps in the process of healing these individuals of their dangerous and hurtful ways. The Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice defines prison rehabilitation as punishment intended to reform a convict so that he or she can lead a productive life free from crime. (Smith) Most inmates have some sort of mental illness as well such as depression, anxiety, or something worse. Others have more tangible issues like anger management. Recent research has shown that nearly one in every five inmates has some sort of diagnosed mental illness. (Crime in America.net staff). Also, most of the inmates have had rough backgrounds and hard lives. When a bad past is mixed with a bad present, the future will most likely continue to be bad for these
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individuals. The prison system motivates evil behavior by dehumanizing and deindivi dualizing inmates, essentially taking away one's need of belonging and safety says Robert Joseph Sirvird, a writer for the Applied Social Psychology website. Exercising power against others in a deliberately physically, mentally, or morally harming manne r can cause even more damage to the inmates than they have already endured in their lives and in no way helps to rehabilitate them. As a whole, institutions should focus more on building up the inmates, not tearing them down. Although prisons are gruesome places for both inmates and workers, the inmates who want to better themselves should be given the chance. The workers being more conscious of human rights would help the prisoners respect the guards more as well. Why would you respect someone who doesnt treat you like a human being? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime makes this point: Prison authorities have a responsibility to ensure that the supervision and treatment of prisoners is in line with the rule of law, with respect to individuals' human rights, and that the period of imprisonment is used to prepare individuals for life outside prison following release. (Why PromoteUNODC). One way to reform our prison systems is to providenforce mandatory training for to the guards and police forces that are working in these prisons. This will provide a safer environment for both the guards and the inmates. The ultimate goal of the prison system should be to reform and retrain the minds of these individuals in order to reintegrate back into society after serving their time. The SarahMucCulloch.com essay entitled Why Prison Doesnt Work ends their essay on the topic of prison systems with this statement:, Perhaps prisons work to give us a sense of satisfaction that something has been done but do prisons work to create a safer, more secure society that protects its citizens, prevents crime, and rehabilitates those citizens who find

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themselves on the wrong side of the law? The evidence would suggest that as a society we have got our definition very wrong. (Sarah MucCulloch) If we, as a society, want crime rates to go down and for the world, in general, to be a better place, we need to reform the prison systems. If a person is convicted for ten years, the time and money that are put in for them to be there should be spent on teaching them better ways to act in society and helping them find a job for when they are released or mending issues with family members. If an eighteen year old is thrown in prison for theft and drugs, they should be worked with and rehabilitated. Without this rehabilitation and counseling the individual could wind up back in a cell. We need to work towards lowering prison return rates which should in return lower crime rates and arrest numbers all together. Prisons not only cause individuals to commit crime again but also raise their need for violence and give them a gang affiliation which causes racism. The current prison system results with thousands of inmates being released into the world with a newly found predator mentality and a strong sense of racist hate. Prisons are breeding grounds for hate and festering anger. Robert Joseph Sirvid leaves us with, It is obvious the prison system needs improvement not to simply stop violence in prison, but to allow prisoners a successful rehabilitation and reintegration into free society. The prison systems must be changed if we want society to become better and safer in the future. All in all, the prison system is a tricky place and a very controversial topic for most of the world. The argument of what to do with offenders and if they deserve to be rehabilitated is a continuous one. Some argue that tax payers money should not be going towards helping ones who harmed our society. All though it is a hard realization to know that your earned money is benefiting someone else, the bottom line is that if these individuals are not helped, they will wind up in a cycle of criminality. More and more tax dollars will be spent on the same individuals

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because they will keep on returning due to repetition of crimes, inability to secure a job, and weak social ties to keep them grounded in their lives. The prison system must be reformed in order for this cycle of criminals to end. Something has to change.

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Works Cited Dufrense, Derek. "Top 10 US Prison Gangs." ListVerse. Listverse Ltd. 10 Dec 2010. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <http://listverse.com/2010/12/11/top-10-us-prison-gangs/>. Gudrais, Elizabeth. "The Prison Problem." Harvard Magazine. Harvard Magazine Inc., n.d. Web. 12 Mar 2014. <http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/03/the-prison-problem>. Mauer, Mark. "Thinking About Prison and its Impact in the Twenty-First Century." Thinking About Prison and its Impact. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Ohio State. Web. 12 Mar 2014. <http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_osu_reckless.pdf>. Sirvid, Robert Joseph. "Prison's Evil System." Applied Social Psychology. Applied Social Psychology, 03 Mar 2012. Web. 12 Mar 2014. <http://www.personal.psu.edu/bfr3/blogs/asp/2012/03/prisons-evil-system.html> Smith, Nick. "Rehabilitation." Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice. University of New Hampshire. N.d. 20 April 2014. <http://pubpages.unh.edu/~nicks/pdf/Rehabilitation.pdf>. Staff, "Crime in America Statistics." CrimeinAmerica.net. N.p Crime In America., n.d. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <http://www.crimeinamerica.net/2009/08/12/redemption-in-an-era-ofwidespread-criminal-background-checks-us-department-of-justice/>. "Why Promote Prison Reform?" UNODC. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Web. 12 Mar 2014. <http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/justice-and-prison-reform/prison-reformand-alternatives-to-imprisonment.html>.

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McCulloch, Sarah. Why Prison Doesnt Work SarahMcCulloch.com. 28 Jun 2010. 20 April 2014.
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