Correctional facilities in the United States house more than two million inmates. Despite the name, they have failed to correct some sixty-seven percent of the individuals incarcerated there. They go on to re-offend within three years of being released. (Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2018, from https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4986) This creates a cycle of catch and release that only produces more hardened criminals that further endangers our society.
There are four basic prisoner personality types, and these are the Entitled, the Bully, Self-righteous, and the Sheep. Entitlement should be a term that we are all aware of as our modern society is overrun with people that think everyone owes them something for existing and this is the second most common type. The bully, of course, needs no introduction as we have all encountered the schoolyard bully, that lacks the intellect to achieve their goals and must rely on strong-arm tactics, this type is the most prevalent. Then there is the self-righteous personality which is the least frequent of them all, and of course, this is a person that always imagines they are correct in all things. The sheep is the final type, and we should all be familiar with this one, as these are people that follow a crowd or the orders of someone giving them commands regardless of the validity of their self-appointed authority. (The 4 inmate personality types. (2011, February 01). Retrieved February 09, 2018, from https://www.correctionsone.com/correctional-psychology/articles/3261117-The-4-inmate-personality-types/)
When inmates are brought to prison for processing, they are divested of their personal items and placed in a particular cell block that is referred to as the fish tank. They occupy this space for up to thirty days while their paperwork is processed and then they are transferred to cells either in the general population or a maximum security wing.(Grabianowski, E. (2007, January 24). How Prisons Work. Retrieved February 09, 2018, from https://people.howstuffworks.com/prison1.htm)The most dangerous get sent to maximum security, and there is no segregation amongst those that are left, and they are put in the general population with prisoners with a wide range of criminal accolades.
We have identified the primary personality types of prisoners, and naturally, we know the seriousness of each prisoner’s crimes so it would seem that prison reform should be straightforward enough to reduce the recidivism rate among our massive prison population. I would like to see the new arrivals kept utterly cut-off from other inmates during their processing phase. They already categorize the seriousness of their crimes and their level of sanity. We should be able to work out the individuals that will be more responsive to reform programs. Once we have identified these individuals, they need to be placed in a segregated wing of the prison with no contact with the other prisoners who are more at risk. By eliminating communication between new arrivals and those already incarcerated we can remove a majority of sociopathic prisoners from faking their way into a reform program they have no intention of pursuing in good faith. This keeps information exchange down and creates a more suitable environment for prisoners that might want to change. We can’t stop all repeat offenders, but we can reduce it by a healthy number and without pressure from the other inmates we can help increase the graduation rate of reform programs.
If we choose the prisoners based on psychological profiling in the processing phase and put the viable candidates into the reform wing of the prison that I have envisioned here, we would also eliminate prisoners from creating the illusion of ethical behavior to get favoritism and early parole so that they might continue their crime spree. We have to start somewhere. I’m not suggesting we go easy on our criminals, in fact, those failing the psychological analysis should be locked up, and the key tossed away. There are those however that can be helped through a reformation process as long as during that process they aren’t influenced by the hardened criminals. Segregation doesn’t work too well in society, but prisons aren’t society. They are the breakdown of society, and if we create a segmented prison system where we can practice real reform of inmates, we can help to restore some humanity to those that have seemingly lost it. We can do better America. Certainly better than a sixty-seven percent recidivism rate.
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