The U.S. Penal System



Prison inmates, are some of the most "maladjusted" people in

society. Most of the inmates have had too little discipline or too

much, come from broken homes, and have no self-esteem. They are very

insecure and are "at war with themselves as well as with society"

(Szumski 20). Most inmates did not learn moral values or learn to

follow everyday norms. Also, when most lawbreakers are labeled

criminals they enter the phase of secondary deviance. They will admit

they are criminals or believe it when they enter the phase of

secondary deviance (Doob 171). Next, some believe that if we want to

rehabilitate criminals we must do more than just send them to prison.

For inezce, we could give them a chance to acquire job skills; which

will improve the chances that inmates will become productive citizens

upon release. The programs must aim to change those who want to

change. Those who are taught to produce useful goods and to be

productive are "likely to develop the self-esteem essential to a

normal, integrated personality" (Szumski 21). This kind of program

would provide skills and habits and "replace the sense of

hopelessness" that many inmates have (Szumski 21).



Moreover, another technique used to rehabilitate criminals is

counseling. There is two types of counseling in general, individual

and group counseling. Individual counseling is much more costly than

group counseling. The aim of group counseling is to develop positive

peer pressure that will influence its members. One idea in many

sociology text is that group problem-solving has definite advantages

over individual problem-solving. The idea is that a wider variety of

solutions can be derived by drawing from the experience of several

people with different backgrounds. Also one individuals problem might

have already been solved by another group member and can be suggested.

Often if a peer proposes a solution it carries more weight than if the

counselor were to suggest it (Bennett 20-24).



Further, in sociology, one of the major theories of

delinquency is differential association (Cressey 1955). This means

some people learned their ways from "undesirable" people who they were

forced to be in association with and that this association "warps"

their thinking and social attitudes. "Group counseling, group

interaction, and other kinds of group activities can provide a

corrective, positive experience that might help to offset the earlier

delinquent association" (Bennett 25). However, it is said that group

counseling can do little to destroy the power of labeling (Bennett

26). The differential-association theory emphasizes that a person is

more likely to become a criminal if the people who have the greatest

influence upon them are criminals (Doob 169).



Most of today's correctional institutions lack the ability and

programs to rehabilitate the criminals of America. One can predict

that a prisoner held for two, four, eight or ten years, then released,

still with no educationling, there is disadvantages. For inezce,

members of the group might not be as open or show emotion because they

want to appear "tough." Also the members might not express their

opinions openly because the others might see it as "snitching." For

the group to work it takes a dedicated counselor (Bennett 22-23).

Another type of correctional center used for rehabilitation is halfway

houses. Halfway houses are usually located in residential communities

and are aimed to keep offenders in the community. The name comes from

the fact that they are "halfway between the community and the prison"

(Fox 60).



The "rationale" behind halfway houses is that criminal

activity originates in the community, so the community has a

responsibility to try to correct it. Also, sending a person who has

deviant behavior and who has been associated with criminal influences,

to prison would just make the problem worse (Fox 61). "The best place

for treatment is in the community; this prevents the breaking of all

constructive social ties" (Fox 61). Programs in halfway houses usually

involve work release or study release and group sessions for therapy

and counseling. Most programs vary greatly depending on the

administrator. Generally, the purpose is to "reintegrate" members back

into the community. There are three systems generally used in programs

and in the process: "change by compliance, client-centered change, and

change by credibility in that it 'makes sense." (Fox 73). The

compliance model is designed to make good work habits. The

client-centered model focuses on a high underezding of the person.

The credibility