Alternatives To Prisons Essay Research Paper Alternatives

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Alternatives To Prisons Essay, Research Paper Alternatives to prisonsToday, more than ever before in the history of our penal system, our people are being sent to prisons all across the United States for such offenses as drug possession, trafficviolations and other minor scrapes with the law. Apparently the American public has decidedby popular vote that incarceration is the cure all for our countries complex crime problems. However, now we are facing prison overcrowding like never before in the history of TheUnited States. I believe we need to look at these problems closer and analyze them in amore rational sense. I do not believe that incarceration is the answer to all our problemswhen it comes the criminals in our society. We are wasting billions of dollars on newprisons

all across the nation. Is it time we look to alternatives to the “lock em up andthrow away the key” attitude that plagues middle class America? I sincerely believe so. No one really knows the true reasons why crime occurs. The oldest theory, based on theology and ethics, is that people who commit to crimes are perverse, and do it deliberately, or because the devil made them do it. Although that idea has long since been discarded by modern criminologists, it persists among uninformed people and provides the rational for the harsh punishments and laws that are being adopted by the people all across the nation. As the eighteenth century rolled around we began to look at scientific reasons why crime was committed. At the end of the eighteenth century German physician Franz Joseph

Gall had advanced that skull structure had a profound effect on the likelihood of criminality1 His theory was very popular until the nineteenth century when it was discarded as absurd. There have been several different theories on what makes a man not conform to public laws since that time. Lombroso, an Italian criminologist, asserted that there is a correlation between criminals and Mongoloids, which showed some validity until the 20th century when Charles Goring, a British criminologist, did a study on incarcerated and unincarcerated and found no correlation at all thus disproving Lombroso’s theory2. Lombroso’s theory also could have been attributed to the fact that people with socially unappealing looks tend to be looked down upon from the general public, thus having less

opportunities in the community. Although many brilliant men have conceived a vast array of different theories on why people deviate from societies norms, we must pay attention to the elements that have been around since crime itself, which is mental illness and poverty. There are a great many people in society that don’t hold the tools necessary to decipher between right and wrong. There are sociopaths psychopaths, and people that just are not very intelligent for a variety of different reasons. We also have a great many people that are at a disadvantage in our ultra high tech and extremely competitive society. These people, I believe, aresometimes forced in to a life of crime because of what I call “A will to survive.” They arenot inherently evil like middle class America

tends to think, they are simply lacking thesocial structure, education and guidance needed by all human beings. And these are theAmericans that are filling up our prisons as you read this. Now that we have a betterunderstanding of why people commit to crimes, I think it only proper we compare how we havedealt with these people we refer to as “vermin” throughout U.S. history. It is commonknowledge that virtually every crime in early history was punishable by death, but sincethat time our punishment ideals have evolved. In America, the idea of prisons was spurredby the deep religious beliefs of English Quaker, William Penn.3 Penn abolished the penaltyof death for most crimes in the 1600’s, substituting imprisonment as a punishment. Then in1718 the British Government compelled