Prisons are correctional facilities where criminals are confided in order to rehabilitate them. Once a criminal has gotten out of the prison it is expected that they have learnt from their mistakes and not repeat these same mistakes or commit new crimes. They are expected to be changed people who are ready to be productive in the society. However, over the years this has not been achieved successfully. This is due to the fact that prisons are facing various significant challenges today. The paper will look at some of these challenges prisons are facing today and bring out research and discussions of these issues and how they impact the administration of the correctional systems. It will also look at the impact of these issues both global and local scales. Finally solutions to these challenges based on research and examples will also be provided.
Gang activities in prisons are not new to the law enforcement and the law has had a long running battle with this menace. Historically, disruptive activities in prisons were just small, affiliated groups of inmates. However the nature and type of these groups has dramatically changed since the early 1960's.many of these groups started in prisons as a result of ethnic, geographical, racial and ideological influences but as they grew they evolved to be inclusive of community and institutional components.in other cases they copied structures and philosophies groups that are already present in the society (Walker, 2013). Today prison gangs have become a formidable feature of most of the prisons all over the world. For a long time gang related activities have created increasingly severe management problems in the setting of the institution as well as for the law enforcement community as a whole. The main focus of these gangs is to unite inmates for the purposes of self-protection as well as for monopolization of illegal prison activities. These gangs function on acquisition of power and money and use threats and violence in order to dominate the staff and other prisoners. The common gang activities include intimidation, assault, drug trafficking, abuse of weaker prisoners, theft, extortion, sodomy, rape, bribery, protection, prostitution and mostly prison violence. A high percentage of the prison violence is related to gangs. Gang members in prisons continue to recruit and make alliances aggressively so that they can be able to strengthen their power base as well as influence within the prisons. Gangs pose a serious threat to the safe, secure, orderly and efficient management of the correctional systems (Grey, 2012).
Gang activities have impacted individual correctional facilities on a local scale in that instead of prisoners getting rehabilitated they become more rooted in crime even more than they were before. The problem of gang activity in the prisons have an impact on the community that is outside the prison .In fact prison gangs are now developing into organizations that have connections and activities stretching from prison to the community. This is because gang members still call shots on the outside and they will eventually be released. Research has shown that most of the gangs in the streets are controlled by leaders who are in the prison system. When one gets out of prison they often have more gang experience and are savvier in ways of the gang than the way they got into the prison (Harris, 2012). Gang activities pose as a danger inside the correctional facilities as well as the community at large. Gang activities also impact correctional systems on an international scale since same effects of the gang activities are also present on a global scale. This means that something has to be done to deal with this matter so that the prisons can be safe, and efficient in rehabilitating criminals. Almost all prisons have rules that prohibit gang recruitment.in fact there are rules that are already in place which prohibit gang recruitment in prisons.to deal with the problem of gang activities prisons should come up with programs that are aimed at encouraging prisoners to quit the gangs. There should also be more training, increased intelligent officers, more collaboration with police and justice partners and the prohibiting of gang paraphernalia and colors. Another strategy is integration of gang members whereby gang members and non-gang members are hosed together and in same units as their rivals which will lead to breaking the power a gang might have (Knox, 2005).
Sexual assault, rape, and indecency are all terms that can be used to represent reprehensible behaviors in the society. These are also a representation of themes in most prisons today. This is not only done by prisoners but also guards and other members of staff. The nature of prisons is total institutions hence it is quite impossible for a prisoner to consent to sexual advances by their fellow prisoners or even staff members. Most victims of sexual assault cases arte often younger than their assailants .Mentally ill or intellectually impaired inmates are more likely to be assaulted compared to those with sound mind. This is because they are helpless and might not be able to defend themselves when they are attacked. Another contributing factor to sexual assault in prisons is cellblocks that have solid cell fronts (Kaufman, 2001). While solid cell fronts permit the privacy of inmates and reduce noise within the prisons units, they also provide a high degree of privacy that permits sexual assault to easily take place. Unlike the old cell fronts which consisted of bars, solid doors usually limit any form of visual monitoring by staff and to some extent soundproof the cells such that it is difficult for staff to hear what is going on in the individual cells.
Sexual assault is a serious challenge in prisons especially because it is often difficult to identify and investigate cases of sexual assault. This is because first, it is difficult to determine the nature of the sexual assault. Secondly inmates are very reluctant to report sexual assault incidences because they lack witnesses hence it can be difficult to validate a claim. Another thing is that changing stories and lack of cooperation is confounded by the difficulties of obtaining physical evidence especially when reports are not timely. The protocols in prisons are not adequate and officials in prisons are not adequately trained to investigate sexual assault in prisons (Kaufman, 2001).
Sexual assault has a similar impact in correctional system both on local and international scale in that it renders prisons no longer safe places for effective corrections to be conducted. Inmates are always on the look out as they are in fear of an assault being launched on them. The lack of safety completely washes away the essence and function of the correctional systems.
There should be prison sexual assault policies in place which will help in addressing measures of the preventing and detecting sexual assault, response to reported incidences, training and services for sexual assault victims (Hunter, 2014).
Corruption is defined as using legitimate authority illegally. Any behavior that abuses hence crossing parameters of an individual's powers is classified under corruption. Police officers corruption is an international problem that takes place in most prisons all over the world. The most type of officer corruption in prisons is the smuggling of drugs and mobile phones .even though the official explanation which is given in most cases is that such contraband are brought into the prisons by friends and family there is a considerable amount of evidence that imply these goods are actually brought by corrupt prison staff. Factors that contribute to corruption among officers is how they are trained since their training has ramifications on how they think especially the statement police are more important that those they are sworn to protects. This makes them think of themselves first at the expense of maintaining law and order in the prisons. Another reason is the rationalization of corruption. Officers can not resist the temptation of getting extra money on to of their pay. When they help sneak contraband goods for inmates they definitely get something in return which can be in monetary form (Transparency International UK, 2014).
Officer corruption is a very big problem on the local scale and international scale. This is because officers are the ones with the duty of maintaining law and order within the prisons but if they are corrupt then there is no way they can achieve this. The prisons end up being more disorderly and insecure as the officers are now no longer focused on their duties. This leads to prisons that are not well managed hence they loose their essence of being correctional facilities. Corrupt officers on a global scale lead to people loosing faith in the correctional systems (White, 1999).This is because through corruption officers facilitate the very things they are supposed to be working against. The risks of corruptions have been ignored by policy makers and the prison service has significantly reduced its capacity to monitor and investigate the corruption cases.