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Madison Shelburg

English 2010


Collin Hull

Is our Current Prison System Effective in Rehabilitating Prisoners?

Its no secret, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world; furthermore, an

extremely high recidivism rate. The issue here is that as a society, the goal for imprisonment is to

punish rather than rehabilitate. Although there are programs available for inmates some may

argue the quality of the program. The following people analyzed rehabilitative programs

available to inmates and their effectiveness. Heather Schoenfeld, a sociology professor at Ohio

State University, argues that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the

causes of this problem. The second author, Robbie Couch, a predominantly political writer for

the Washington Post, argues that our current rehabilitation programs are aiding in fixing the

broken prison system. The third set of authors; Anthony Brewer, Montoya Rutherford, Mike

Howard-Smith and Yedwa Ngwenya, discuss the variety of prison rehabilitation programs in the

U.S.. While there are programs set in place there are two sides who either urge the success of

selected programs or those who express how ineffective due to recidivism rates.

Schoenfeld states that prison rates in the U.S. are the highest in the world, with 724 per

100,000 citizens. (Five things everyone should know about incarceration, Schoenfeld).

Schoenfeld contends that the result of more people being incarcerated is not a product of higher

crime rates but because it targets a variety of offenders, ranging from drug, violent and
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nonviolent offenders and keeps them imprisoned much longer. Although many refer to America

as the land of the free it could be more justifiably known as the land of the incarcerated. It

incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. Its imprisonment rate is almost 50%

(percent) higher than Russia's and 320% (percent) higher than China's. (Schoenfeld). She also

implies that mass incarceration disproportionately impacts U.S. racial minorities and that

incarceration is expensive.

Robbie Couch shares that the rehabilitation programs that are in place are helping to fix

the broken prison system. Couch argues that instead of holding people who are too dangerous to

release while waiting for trial, jails have become filled with those who are too poor to afford bail

and people with mental health issues or a history of drug addiction crowding our jails and

prisons. (These programs are helping to fix a broken U.S. prison system, Couch). He also states

that the majority of offenders will break the law more than once and spend years in and out of

the system. He shares the problem and offers a current solution that is in action. One solution

would be programs that help to rehabilitate criminals to learn valuable skills and become

contributing members to society. Different programs offered include: Prisoner entrepreneurship

(PEP) program which focuses on changing inmate behavior and helping them to create an

entrepreneurship and funding. (These programs are helping to fix a broken U.S. prison system,

Couch). The Forensic Assertive Community Treatment team prioritizes mental health and

focuses on providing beneficial treatment to clients (These programs are helping to fix a broken

U.S. prison system, Couch). Ohio shows inmates that they are an asset to the community, this

helps to break down the segregational barriers many criminals face and provide inmates with a
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sense of belonging. Overall, these programs help to teach prisoners viable skills to be

contributing, functioning members of society.

Arrendale inmates returning to school. prisoneducation.com,

Anthony Brewer, Montoya Rutherford, Mike Smith and Yedwa Ngwenya, are writers for the

organization Lawjrank who talk about the current correctional rehabilitative programs that are in

place today. The different programs offered to the majority of prisoners in the U.S.. To put into

simpler terms, they all fall under the basis of different educational and variation of work related

programs with a variation of counseling programs. These types of programs are supplied to help

criminal offenders to become productive members to society and trustworthy employees. There

are different levels of education you can reach in prison including the GED, which is equivalent

to a high school diploma.

College degrees are only offered to one third of the United States institutions. Many prisons

offer different life skills training programs which help prisoners to have a basic understanding of

everyday functional principles including: how to apply and interview for a job, how to budget

money, how to live a healthy life, and how to be a parent and spouse. On a broader spectrum of

treatment supplied, substance abuse programs are extremely popular and include group therapy
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and counseling sessions. These programs can have some complications including funding for

institutions and space for criminals. Without having proper resources many prisoners are not

given proper treatment, therefore, are unable to be rehabilitated into a contributing member of

society. (Rehabilitation-correctional programs in the U.S.,Brewer, Rutherford, Smith, Ngdweya).

Heather Schoenfeld argues that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world and

that the U.S. does not have an effective prison rehabilitation system. She implies that we

prosecute more crimes than most countries do. The main issue she believes is that we imprison

people for societys problems when it really all comes down to a much deeper rooted issue.

The second author, Robbie Couch, also believes that the current prison system is broken,

however he states specific programs that are statistically proving successful rehabilitation. While

Schoenfeld takes a very negative approach on the prison reform system Couch contends a very

hopeful promising approach to the rehabilitation in the incarcerated. He contends that in certain

institutions they are focusing on very specific issues like mental illness and how to better treat

them. Brewer, Smith, Rutherford and Ngdweya simply states the educational and life skills

programs offered to the majority of prisoners in the U.S.. This group stays very neutral

throughout the article and only states their opinion at the end by saying that some of the issues

with the reform programs are due to a lack of resources. Other than that, there isnt any kind of

bias as to whether or not this system works. In comparison to Couchs article, the Lawjrank

group simply informs readers of the programs and who they are offered too. However, Lawjrank

writers dont share if they are effective or not.

In the first article, written by Heather Schoenfeld, I analyzed, the author very strongly

states the points as to why our prison system is broken. This article is written by a Sociology
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Professor at Ohio state, giving her more credibility than the average investigator, but also may

include some bias in the subject being a white female in a predominantly white community. She

has a lot of credibility through her knowledge of statistics collected through extensive research.

She has done an extensive amount of research in prisons involving race, politics and capacity in

prisons. The article is very factual and the author cites all facts given and leaves her opinion out

of it. You can tell by some of the language used in her sentences that she does have a negatively

biased opinion, but she backs it up using facts. Example, Imprisoning criminals is expensive.

You can tell by the way that she states these facts that they have more of a negative connotation.

However, every statement she makes is true she just tends to point out the negatives following

incarceration. She also doesnt give any kind of solution to this issue. She only is exposing the

bad without stating any type of solution to the problem. The author of article two, Robbie Couch,

is very effective in using different appeals to be convincing. He seems to be credible in using the

appeal to logos. He discusses how the current prison system is broken and the different types of

programs being used and their effectiveness. He uses a lot of statistics and data to back up his

claims. One weakness is that you can tell some of the language has a negative or a positive bias.

The third article, written by the lawjrank organization, I analyzed is very factual. The only

portion of the article that is opinionated is towards the last paragraph when the author states that

the issues with some of the programs include lack of resources. Another weakness in this article

is that the author only utilizes one appeal, which is ethos. To make a strong argument, all three

appeals need to be considered.

In conclusion, the authors; Schoenfeld, Couch, Smith, Rutherford, Brewer and Ngwenya,

used different methods to get information across. Some similarities include: the descriptions of
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programs and their effectiveness, and the current issues within the incarceration system. Through

the eyes of different analysts (authors), we can see a common theme in which there is a problem

with the way that our jailing and imprisonment system is working in this present day. All of the

authors offer up current programs that are in place today to deal with the problems, as well as

give an analytical point of view for further solutions that can better improve upon our judicial

system to help people who are incarcerated find their place in our modern society, and proceed in

their lives whilst not returning to jail or prison.

Works Cited
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Schoenfeld, Heather. "Five things everyone should know about US incarceration." Al Jazeera

English. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.


Anthony Brewer, Montoya Rutherford, Mike Howard-Smith and Yedwa Ngwenya.

"Rehabilitation - Correctional Programs In The United States." Offenders, Treatment, Inmates,

and Counseling - JRank Articles. Net Industries and its Licensors , n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.


Couch, Robbie. "These Programs Are Helping Fix A Broken U.S. Prison System." The

Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Feb.


Prison Education Programs. Prisoners Incarcerated. prisoneducation.com,