Essay about The Criminal Justice System



The United States incarceration rate is five times greater than the overall incarceration rate compared to the rest of the world. Some consider that some violent criminals have been forced off the streets through harsh sentences while others claim that so many offenses with poor, or non-existent, requirements of criminal intent exist (Malcolm). Senator John Thune introduced legislation in order to set up a National Criminal Justice Commission to be able to conduct an 18-month study of the entire criminal justice system of the country. Today, the U.S. holds 25 percent of the recorded prisoners in the world. Many of the issues regarding the criminal justice system stems from the dehumanizing culture of prisons and jails. The goal of the National Criminal Justice Commission is to look at the effects of the criminal justice system on people around the world as well as come up with ways to build a secure atmosphere and prepare prisoners for their release back into society. While the criminal justice system aims to protect society from violent offenders and keep them from reoffending, many individuals dehumanize the prisons. Additionally, while many argue that certain violent offenders have been forced off the streets by harsh penalties, others contend that there are too many crimes with low or non-existent criminal intent criteria. This is particularly true, given that the rate of incarceration in the United States is five times higher than the average rate of incarceration in comparison to the rest of the world.

The purpose of the criminal justice system is to protect society from violent criminals and to deter them from reoffending. Severe punishments have kept certain violent offenders off the streets. However, the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other reporting country, which worries lawmakers because “incarceration has negative impacts on society and families” (Kasabian). As of 2010, one out of every 28 children has a parental figure behind bars. Although many family prospects may improve, however “studies show that the children of incarcerated fathers struggle more in school, act more aggressively, and have difficulty forming positive relationships with their peers” (Malcolm). Many studies also show that children of incarcerated parents commit crimes themselves. Additionally, “parents who stay out of prison remain breadwinners; it is no surprise that families with fathers in prison experience higher risks of poverty and homelessness.”

The dehumanization culture of prisons and jails compounds many issues such as prison abuse and sexual victimization. It is important to establish a safe environment for inmates in order to find ways to better prepare them for their release back into civil society (Webb). Furthermore, sexual assault by a guard on an inmate is a major issue in jails. Sexual abuse, regardless of the inmate’s or guard’s gender, is deeply offensive to human dignenty and is not considered a part of the punishments imposed on criminals for their offenses against society (Coker). This can harm an inmate both mentally and physically. According to Coker, “to face sexual contact, fondling, solicitations, threats, offers for quid pro quo exchanges, and attendant harassment from an official who controls every aspect of the inmate’s life. In the prison environment, an inmate can neither avoid this official, nor, in reality, seek much help from others to protect against this abuse.” An inmate can not avoid abuse from officers in a prison setting, or be able to get help from other inmates to defend against the abuse. The concept of guards committing sexual assault against those in their possession disgusts most people. After all, guards  are government employees, in charge of the safety and protection of inmates while they are held in custody. The job of guards is to be able to help inmates re-enter society as better, more productive citizens, however the trauma from the assault can affect their ability to do so. A large portion of the Eighth Amendment “examines guard-on-inmate sexual abuse claims under the Eighth Amendment and interprets that amendment as requiring inmates to allege objectively serious injury to claim the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment.” It argues that sexual abuse from guards does not inflict severe injury upon inmates. However, this also deals with gender stereotyping. Using this standard, courts find that women and transgender persons often suffer from serious psychological injury from sexual abuse, but reject similar claims from male inmates. The conclusions of these cases promotes the image of women as being more naturally vulnerable to psychological harm as a result of sexual abuse compared to male victims. 

Although the criminal justice system seeks to protect society from violent offenders and prevent them from reoffending, the prisons are dehumanized by many individuals. In addition, while many argue that some violent offenders have been forced out of the streets by harsh penalties, others argue that there are too many crimes with low or non-existent criminal intent criteria. This is especially true given that, compared to the rest of the world, the United States is five times higher than the average rate of incarceration. The purpose of the criminal justice system is to protect society from and prevent violent criminals from reoffending, but more people are imprisoned by the U.S. than any other reporting country, which concerns lawmakers because incarceration has negative effects on families. Many problems such as prison abuse and sexual victimization are compounded by the dehumanization of prisons and jails. Sexual assult by a guard onto a prisoner is a significant problem in jails and courts find that women and transgender individuals often suffer from severe psychological injury from sexual abuse, but reject similar claims from male inmates. In order to find ways to better prepare them for their release back into civil society, it is crucial to establish a secure environment for inmates.