When it comes to America’s prison system it seems that there are many ironies engendered within the system. Although prisons have become a permanent part of America’s justice system, the reality is that incarceration may be doing more harm than good. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger once argued that, “When society places a person behind walls and bars it has an obligation to change that person before he or she goes back into the stream of society”. Despite the fact that many within the criminal justice system have sought to achieve this goal, in many cases, America’s prisons have become human warehouses, dehumanizing and violent places of confinement in which prisoners merely waste away. The irony is that places once believed to be sanctuaries of rehabilitation have become mere storehouses for society’s undesirables. Because the prison system in America has failed to achieve the goal of rehabilitation, criminals released from prison often return to society more violent and less socially adjusted than before they became incarcerated.
When it comes to understanding how the prison system in America has failed, it seems that there is a sequence of events that ultimately lead a prisoner down the path of further criminal activity rather than rehabilitation. First, it has been argued that when an individual becomes incarcerated, the environment in which he or she resides will ultimately promulgate more criminal activity. In other words prisons become social arenas in which inmates are free to exchange ideas about criminal activities. A Prison System Term Paper argues that prison is actually responsible for creating a criminal personality that invariably leaves a prisoner’s emotional state forever mangled by hate, distrust and fear: “No one has ever come out of prison a better man”. Although other authors have argued that a criminal personality exists before an individual becomes incarcerated, the fact that crime rates have continued to grow over the past decade clearly indicates that rehabilitation simply is not working .
Continuing the sequence of events that inevitably leads to the recidivism of many inmates is the overwhelming fact that most correctional facilities in the United States fail to appropriately provide inmates with practical skills that can lead to gainful employment. While this may not seem like the primary responsibility of the criminal justice system, one author poignantly notes leading a law-abiding life is highly dependent on being able to secure gainful employment. When an inmate is released from prison without the skills to secure gainful employment, he or she will ultimately revert to old habits, i.e. criminal activity .