Throughout the years, prisons have become a major component of the criminal justice system since they act as institutions that help in punishment of convicted criminals and deterrent for crime prevention. This article examines these facilities as part of the justice system and how they function in accomplishing their purpose. The analysis includes an exploration of the various types of prisons such as jails, federal, state, maximum security, medium security, minimum security, supermax, and closed security prisons. The role and function of prisons in promoting social change in the modern society has also been discussed.
Prisons as an Area of Corrections:
Prisons are one of the major areas of correctional facilities that serve as places for confinement of convicted criminals. An individual is placed in a prison after being convicted of an offense as punishment for his/her actions. The punishment of criminal offenses in prisons emanate from the fact that these facilities restrict the offender's access to almost everything, freedom, and movements. The privacy, dignity, and control of the criminals are given up to prison administrators and guards where boredom and loneliness can drive the offender insane. Historically, prisons have been used for various purposes including locking away prisoners of war, political dissidents and the mentally ill.
In America, prisons are operated by state and federal governments since incarceration is a concurrent power within the country's constitution. One of the main forms of punishment for the commission of criminal acts in America is imprisonment (Grabianowski, n.d.). In most cases, misdemeanor crimes and less serious offenses are subject to short-term sentences in local jails as community correction, restitution, and probation are alternative forms of punishment.
While the cultural functions of prisons are more complex, a prison sentence can be regarded as a punishment. Therefore, such a sentence serves as a form of justice in which criminals should be subject to some form of retribution and as a deterrent that prevent people who fear the facilities from committing crimes. Notably, these facilities act as protection that keeps dangerous individuals away from the society to prevent them from committing more violent offenses. In certain cases, these facilities are used to rehabilitate offenders and provide them with an opportunity for a new life with enhanced jobs, education, and social skills.
Types of Prisons:
Prisoners are usually housed in divergent facilities that differ in terms of the security level, inmates' administration, housing type, security measures, and tactics used by the corrections officers. The difference in the housing of prisoners emanates from the fact that there are different types of prisons. The most common types of prisons include & #8230;
These are correctional facilities are developed to house criminals awaiting a trial for their offenses. Jails are also designed to hold prisoners who are serving a prison sentence of a maximum of twelve months for their offenses. As important parts of the prison system, many cities have a minimum of one jail ("Prisons," n.d.).
Federal prisons are established to hold individuals convicted of committing federal criminal acts. The facilities are also used to hold people awaiting trial for breaching Federal legislations.
The facilities are designed to house individuals convicted of state crimes or offenses committed in the specific state. Unlike the federal prisons, state prisons house many criminals convicted of breaching the state of local laws. Since many of these offenders are sent to state prisons, the federal prisons house a relatively few number of state inmates.
Maximum Security Prisons:
These are the most commonly known facilities of the prison system that are reserved for violent offenders though they only account for a quarter of all inmates in the United States. The maximum security prisons are also designed to hold inmates who could cause problems in the lower security prisons or those who have attempted to or escaped from prison. Criminals in these facilities are usually surrounded by high walls with razor wire at the top and armed prison guards monitoring the towers to shoot any individual trying to escape over the wall. Generally, maximum security prisons are designed to house inmates serving longer prison sentences for crimes like murder and kidnapping.
In these facilities, all prisoners have personal cells with sliding doors that are managed from a secure remote control station. While the prisoners are confined to these cells for up to 23 hours daily in some facilities, they are allowed to stay out of the cells for most of the day in other institutions. In this scenario, the inmates remain in an exterior cage or cellblock when out of their individual cells. As part of the security measures within the maximum security prisons, movement out of the cellblock is tightly limited through escorts and restraints by the prison officers (De Maille, 2007). One of the major events that sometimes take place in maximum security prisons is lockdown, which is the confinement of all inmates in their cells without any freedom when an incident occurs.
Medium Security Prisons:
These incarceration facilities are usually more open than maximum security prisons and less open than the minimum ones. Inmates in these prisons can sometimes sleep in dormitories on bunk beds with lockers for storage of their possessions. These dormitories are normally locked at night with at least one correctional officer supervising them. In most cases, there is less supervision of the movements of these inmates as the facilities' perimeter is double fenced and patrolled regularly. Inmates in the medium security prisons may sometimes have communal sinks, toilets, and showers. These incarceration facilities tend to have electronic detection systems, various work and treatment programs, greater internal controls, and higher staff-to-inmate ratio. The electronic detection systems are primarily used for strengthening the double fenced perimeter walls.
Minimum Security Prisons:
These prisons are regarded as the most open and least restricted institutions since they house inmates who pose little physical risk to the society and non-violent offenders. In addition to being known as Federal Prison Camps, minimum security institutions contain dormitory housing, limited or no perimeter fencing, and a slightly low staff-to-inmate ratio ("Prison Types & General Information," n.d.). Inmates in these institutions live in less-secure dormitories that are normally patrolled by correctional officers. Similar to medium security institutions, inmates in these facilities may have communal sinks, toilets, and showers.
Most of the minimum security prisons are situated in small camps within or close to military bases, larger prisons, and other governmental institutions. The reason for such location is to provide a suitable supply of convict labor to the facility. Inmates in the institutions sometimes work in community projects like roadside litter cleanup since the facilities are work-oriented and program-oriented.
These institutions provide the highest level of security in prisons as they are designed to house inmates considered the most dangerous criminals. Some of the inmates housed in supermax prisons include serial killers, high-profile offenders, and those who have committed serious violations in less secure institutions. Many maximum security prisons have SuperMax unit within the facility for permanent lockdown status.
Closed Security Prisons:
In these institutions, inmates have one or two individual cells that are managed from a remote control station. These prisoners are permitted to leave their cells for correctional programs, work assignments, common area in the cellblock, or exercise yard.
Role of Prisons in Society:
Throughout the years, prisons have continued to serve as an important part of the criminal justice system. While these institutions may seem like an isolated discovery in the modern form and functioning, their foundation can be traced to an increasingly profound social change. The major role of prisons in the contemporary society is to promote social change of a convicted individual rather than intimidate inmates.
Prison facilities provide an atmosphere of opportunity for convicted individuals to engage with their criminal…