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Prison Reform and Why it Matters

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

When a person is convicted of a crime and found guilty, they are consequently sent to prison in the hopes that their behaviour will be corrected. However, more often than not, once these people are released they go back to committing the same crimes they were just released for. Mind you, this is not because these perpetrators just so happen to be inclined towards criminal behaviour, or derive pleasure from breaking the law. The reality is, our justice and rehabilitation systems are utterly broken, and do anything to deter offenders from becoming reoffenders.

When I say broken, I mean that the majority of the prisons in the world are inhumane and do nothing to help prisoners integrate successfully into society. Unfortunately, most countries tend to prioritise cost-saving over design,and along with the negative perception that inmates should be condemned, it’s easy to see why suicide is the leading cause of death in US prisons. Maltreatment and abuse is present in most prisons, for example: The Carandiru Penitentiary in Brazil is possibly the worst prison in the world; in 1992 a prison riot broke out, resulting in the death of over 100 inmates, all shot dead. In the US, 76.6% of prisoners are rearrested within 5 years. Recidivism traps countries from progress as the cycle of incarceration continues, often spanning generations.

The only way forward is through reform. By providing inmates with education plans, employment offers, housing opportunities and life guidance, former prisoners can successfully transition into society. In terms of inside the prisons, the general atmosphere of hostility and hatred from superiors towards prisoners has to be extinguished. Rather than being punitive systems designed to beat down and punish an inmate, prisons should be rehabilitative institutions that build up a person and equip them with the skills necessary to ensure they don’t ever need to return to a life of crime, and instead, can thrive as contributing members of society.

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