The Prison System in the U.S.
The United States penitentiary system establishment dates back from 1777 to 1877. Initially, prisons were established for the sole purpose of reforming prisoners. This changed some time later when prisons evolved to become containment facilities whereby prisoners served their sentences. This was mainly due to the fact that the prison wardens lacked rehabilitative skills. Thus, as a result, the prison system at that time rehabilitated little or no prisoners. Prisoners were seen to commit counter crimes, which deemed the prison system unproductive. The deterioration of the prison system was also a result of the wardens drive to make the prisons economically profitable. This shift of focus from rehabilitation of prisoners to making the penitentiary system an economically viable venture led to its downfall. In these early times, punishments induced were conducted publically. They were aimed at humiliating the prisoners in the public in a bid to deter crimes. These public punishments involved inflicting pain to an individual through whipping and branding. These public punishments embarrassed the offenders in front of their neighbors and friends, and hence the community helped the offenders to reform. Offenders who were strangers upon conviction were more likely to face physical punishment after which they were banished from the community
Prison overcrowding has become one of the major challenges facing the justice system in the United States, owing to the fact that the number of adult offenders has doubled resulting to the impedance of justice. Housing these prisoners became a major challenge to the government, which resulted, to the government turning to privatization of the prisons. This was a smart move as signing contracts with the private sector allowed for the construction of prisons that are much cheaper compared to the government prisons. Hence, this allowed the government to cut back on expenses and use the funds to finance prospectively productive projects. The United States department of treasury is concerned with issues regarding the finances of the country. This agency of the government has been seen to provide the government with funds to support the development of prisons. This agency of the government has also been seen to bring solutions to the problem of congestion in the prisons of the United States. Schemes such as the privatization of the prisons came in handy as a solution to the doubling of the population of the prisoners within the government prisons. Building new prisons with a higher capacity of holding prisoners proved to be very costly, and hence, it was not feasible to invest in such a strategy. Privatization of the prisons involved the government signing contracts with the private sector. Hence, the government was able to cut back on costs that could have been incurred in building government owned prisons. This initiative brought forth by the Department of Treasury to fund privately owned prisons saved the government funds and resources required to run and maintain these prisons
Another agency of the government that was affected by the development of prisons was the healthcare sector. Prisoners are human beings, who according to the Constitution should have access to proper healthcare. Hence, prisons should offer healthcare to the prisoners. Healthcare goes hand in hand with health and patient education. Health education promotes creation of health awareness on the part of the prisoners, which in its turn, helps curb the spread and transmission of disease within the penitentiary. Prisons are enclosed environments whereby the prisoners come into contact with each other. In the advent of an epidemic, trained medical personnel need to be available and accessible by the prisoners at all times. Hence, constant medical checkups should be conducted on the prisoners. In case of the outbreak of a contagious disease, control measures can be implemented swiftly and resolutely. Medical staff for these prisons is employed by the government. The finance and the healthcare agencies within the government are seen to work side by side whereby the Department of Treasury is responsible for providing funds that act as salaries for the medical staff. It is worth noting that good health of the prisoners is a key to successful rehabilitation of prisoners. The prisons should also incorporate physical, social and mental facilities. These facilities help the prisoners to maintain their health, and hence, curbing the deterioration of the prisoners both physically and mentally.
The Department of the Interior is yet another agency that is affected by the development of prisons in the United States. The justice system improvement required that more prisons to be set up. For prisons to be built, land on which the prisons will set up should first be procured. It is the responsibility of the US Department of the Interior to provide the land required to set up prisons throughout the country. Securing land in the United States has become a major issue due to the fact that the United States is a modernized country. It is also worth noting that the population of the prisoners in the current prisons has almost doubled. Hence, there is a need to increase the number of prisons within the country. The sites for the construction of these prisons need to be strategically placed. In the advent of emergencies that cannot be handled within the prisons, these should be located within the proximity of police stations, fire departments, and hospitals. Prison riots appear to be frequent . In cases when these riots get out of warden control, the police come to put them down. The police also come as an asset in cases of prison breaks whereby they are able to act swiftly and capture these fugitives and bringing them to face justice. Police efforts to control riots come as an asset to the general public, due to the fact that most riots result in prison breaks, which release harmful criminals to the general public. Fire is destructive and has been seen to claim a fair number of lives in the past. It is upon the United States Department of the Interior to set up prisons in the proximity of fire departments. Prisons should also be set up close to hospitals. In case of medical emergencies, the prisoners should be transported to the hospitals in the least possible time. During medical emergencies, every second counts when it comes to saving a life.
Privatization or involvement of the private sector into implementation of justice has been an issue that has been debated over constantly. Decisions in favor of the involvement of the private sector are numerous. Involvement of the private sector in the provision of correctional institutions is due to the efficiency in the provision of service and its cost effectiveness. This move of privatization also has its setbacks. These include the transfer of the provision of correctional services from the public to a private provider as the move to privatize prisons has been highly opposed. This could result in the decline of the quality of the services given to the inmates, due to the fact that the government is better connected and has well trained, experienced in handling prisoners personnel. Privately owned prisons lack the amount of funds necessary to set up quality prisons whose main aim is to rehabilitate prisoners rather than locking up prisoners to serve their sentences. There are also legal challenges that come with privatization, and hence, it takes a long and tedious process to make privatization a reality. As it was stated earlier, debates on privatization revolve around determining whether these private facilities are more cost effective compared to the government institutions. Privatization is favored due the fact that the private managers in correctional institutions are more efficient as opposed to the public ones. Private Managers are self-motivated and are always under close scrutiny by the directors of these privately owned correctional facilities. With good management, privately owned institutions are run better and in a more efficient way resulting in quality service delivery experienced by the prisoners.