Category: History Essay

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

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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