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Field Study and Research in Criminal Justice


Rates of incarceration in the United States have drastically increased in the last three decades. The inmates' population in the country’s prisons has risen from half a million to more than two million in a span of between the 1980s through today. As a result, over $35 billion is spent every year in the correctional facilities at the expense of other essential government services including education, health, and infrastructural development. Worse still is that the incarceration rate is alarmingly high for Hispanic males as well as African-Americans.

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Indeed, the US Department of Justice estimates that one in every three black males will face imprisonment at one least once in their life. However, most of this increase is the result of stiffer penalties for drug-related offenses in which women are also involved. According to the Pew Research Center, about 2.7 million children have at least one parent who is currently incarcerated.

We can, therefore, argue that philosophically, incarceration and its role have changed from that of a rehabilitation function in the 20th century to centers of deterrence and even retribution. Gone are the days when the prison was reserved for the violent offenders who pose a threat to public safety and convicted of felonious acts. Today, the increased fear of crime among the voting public has seen a criminal justice system that incarcerates people with no history of violent crime and, in many cases, have no prior convictions.

We ought to understand that crime is inevitable in society and hence prompting the need for correctional facilities. In this case, therefore, it is essential to compare the US with European justice systems as the latter focus more on rehabilitation and sentences are lighter. Prisons are facilities that a country cannot be proud of since their increase would signify that the society is experiencing high levels of crime, unjustly punishing offenders for relatively minor crimes or both.

The fact is that there numerous ways to hold offenders accountable for misconduct and more so with the ones who have committed nonviolent crimes. If these alternatives are implemented to the latter, they could boost public safety and increase the likelihood that offenders become rehabilitated. Research reveals that adopting other alternatives is more cost-effective. Given that the criminal justice system in the US expensive - with some states encountering expenditures of $60,000 per inmate - it raises the need for lawmakers to re-examine government expenditures for social programs along with the accountability for prison spending. However, this is not meant as an excuse for criminal acts but rather means that we ought to think ‘outside the cell’ in the way of punishing and accountability for offenders.

Background of the Study

Advocates of higher sentences and "tough on crime" legislation depend solely on the justification that incarcerating in large numbers results in reduced crime. This is a topic worth debating today since there are numerous factors to consider before drawing conclusions on this issue (Western 116). According to those who favor incarceration, by increasing the prison population, the result is not only a reduced crime rate but also significant taxpayer savings. Mathematically it is a two-variable equation, which supposes that increase incarceration directly causes a decrease in crime. However, those who oppose this have conducted research studies questioning the effectiveness of incarceration as an ideal tool for controlling crime (U.S. Dept. of Justice 56). Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences proposes that there is no systematic evidence in support of both general and selective incapacitation as having an impact on crime reduction.

Also, a review of “what works’ reached the conclusion that while the incarceration of offenders would reduce crime to some extent, it is also important to note that the number of crimes prevented by incarcerating an additional offender drops with diminishing returns as less serious convicts is imprisoned (Thomson 88). According to the criminological theory, it can, therefore, be noted that causes of crime are complex and vary from one individual to another. Consequently, the responses for criminal justice systems are likely to have implications for the crime but cannot in the long term become an efficient or warranted policy for society. In America, the use of incarceration to mitigate crime has exceedingly gone beyond the potential benefits desired and hence raises the need for reexamination.

Research Problem

An important topic to research and provide my point of view on is based on my first assignment “Thesis Statement” on Sep 22, 2015, and investigates incarceration rates and the pros and cons of the prison system and argues for why alternatives such as parole and probation will not be effective or at least reach the accomplishment rates that were desired since the “war on drugs." It will also discuss why the treatment of illnesses among the prison population and general rehabilitation methods remain below par (Murdoch 104). This is particularly disconcerting in light of a major lawsuit brought against the state of California in particular and in many cases against other states, which made it all the way up to the US Supreme Court. The parties involved are willingly or unintentionally costing taxpayer huge amount of money to settle lawsuits and in addition, have been wasting tremendous amounts of money over decades while the rehabilitation alternatives and researchers and goals set existed.

The other issue that I will discuss in my research paper will involve a comparison between the militarized style policing and imprisonment in America versus European countries and the crime codes that make it more likely that non-violent offenders will spend the same amount of time in prison as those who commit truly horrible, violent crimes. When making a comparison between European countries and the U.S., discrimination and racial profiling plays a role in increasing arrest and incarceration rates even when criminal justice researchers and legislators have warned that the involvement in unethical and unequal approaches to certain populations and groups can lead to more violence within the criminal justice system.

As a result, any method of effective treatment and rehabilitation cannot work properly when the justification for the arrest and incarceration methods are wrong or at least excessive. This is an example of my research thesis and statements and proposal while I am gathering statistics and data from various sources based on recent history of U.S. and European countries to see what is being debated here and the other side of the Atlantic.

This research paper utilizes the quantitative research method which is one of the most popular and useful methods of research in criminal justice due to the diverse sources of information and statistics that cannot be discovered in the absences of the combination of research, interview, data, government resources, and academic books. These sources will be related to each other and will help me to be able to draw my own conclusions.

My reason for choosing this topic is twofold. First, the rate of violence among convicts who have been released or are on parole is high even as non-violent offenders remain behind bars when they could be working serving as productive members of society. Secondly, the criminal justice system spends a tremendous amount of money by putting everyone in jail while at the same time being too soft on serious crimes like murder and rape. These factors made me curious to do some research on the key issues and stakes that have made this an unsolved, ongoing problem.


The research study is primarily designed to evaluate of the quality of service delivery in the US prison systems with regard to prisoner’s rights. Another purpose is to explore the existing differences between the American and European prison systems. In addition, the aim of this paper is to investigate the incarceration rates alongside their pros and cons, especially in light of overcrowding prisons, and the reason why options like parole and probation are ineffective.

Research Structure

The research study is divided categorically into five sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature review
  3. Methodology
  4. Data analysis

Literature Review

National Policy Committee

The National Policy Committee drafts policy papers related to incarceration under the umbrella of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) (The Accomplishments of the U.S Department of Justice, 2001-2009). The latter held a meeting in San Francisco (2004) where it commissioned the National Policy Committee to draft a policy approach paper on ‘incarceration trends.' This paper provides a breakdown of the sources and impacts of the noteworthy and, indeed, the historical increase in the incarceration rates of offenders in the US.

In this manner, the NPC hopes to bring attention to the negative implications of the overuse of incarceration. Under this topic, the NPC is suggesting that criminologists have devoted very little effort to researching the problem (Chauhan 120). The policy and its recommendations are that society ought to adopt a research agenda free of government intervention and autonomous of conventional rules. If duly implemented, NPC believes that these policies will ignite a debate with regard to the roles of ASC in dealing with public policies to mitigate the issues of increasing imprisonment.

War on Drugs

A noteworthy explanation behind the sensational growth in America’s prison population and related increases in incarceration rates among African-Americans and Hispanics is linked to the ever-growing number of individuals sentenced to hefty jail terms for non-violent drug crimes. According to Blumstein, statistics indicate that in 1980 about 19,500 individuals were convicted of drug-related crimes, amounting to approximately 6 percent of the United States penal population. Later in 2000, the numbers grew by approximately 247,000, which is about 21 percent of the total prison population (Thompson 44). In addition, the typical sentence given for drug-related crimes had within that period increased from 13 months to two and a half years. Amazingly, a large portion of these offenders was simple drug users with no documented histories of violence and who is less likely to endanger the safety of the public.

While lower than the male rate, female incarceration rates demonstrate the same incongruities. Black non-Hispanic females have eight times the probability of being imprisoned versus whites, while Hispanic females are three times more likely to be sentenced to prison (Roleff 79). In fact, as per the expectations, race and ethnic variations are likewise deeply rooted in the prisons and correctional control facilities including probation. According to figures published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks make up around 33% of the persons on probation and about 50% on parole.

Race Issues

African-Americans and Hispanics have incarceration rates that are extremely overrepresented when compared to their overall population rates, with much of this coming in the course of the past three decades in consideration of the specific requirements for certain kinds of drug use affiliated with one’s race or ethnic group. From one state to another, the level of over-representation within the prison system changes enormously. While one of the major reasons behind this degree of overrepresentation can be attributed to the high rate of arrests for unlawful acts, diverse research bodies suggest racial discrimination is a culprit (Derous, Nguyen, and Ryan 215). Consequently, there is additional proof that discrimination is persistent in other crucial criminal justice-related decisions such as pretrial detainment, prosecution, parole board discharge, and parole renouncements among others that make the already wanting incarceration situation even worse.

Gender Factors

The rate of incarceration among women has drastically increased, rising higher than that of men. In a span of the two decades between 1980 and 2000, incarceration rates among women increased by 575 percent compared to 300 percent among males. In spite of the fact that the overall imprisonment rate in the state and government correctional facilities is 15 times higher for males than females, it's alarming that females have been fast outpacing the increment for males annually since 1995. Such rates cannot be attributed to increasing violent crime arrest rates or legitimate criminal backgrounds (Chauhan 124).

Prison Conditions

The majority of prisons are swarmed with detainees housed in areas previously intended for prison recreational activities. Congestion adds to the already difficult conditions and also makes it difficult to provide offenders with the professional, medical, and emotional rehabilitation that they require. Many prisoners are idle and are not receiving the fundamental educational opportunities that would allow them to boost their capacity and become self-sufficient upon discharge from prison (Smith 54). Furthermore, many U.S citizens diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases and life-threatening infections can trace infection back to the prison facilities due to a lack of treatment during imprisonment or after discharge.

Detainment Trends

The prison population is constituted by two major components: admission and the amount of time spent on those premises, or the length of stay (LOS). Mathematically an equation is given as ‘jail population admission * LOS’ which progressively becomes complicated when considering the various factors that could lead to being incarcerated and the numerous variables that hold a decision as to the extent a prisoner will be imprisoned before being discharged back into society. Moreover, the different types of correctional endeavors, probation, and parole, along with the existence of offenders amid the correctional population additionally have an immediate effect on the size and properties of these populations (Blumstein 107).

Indeed, within these prison frameworks, individuals could be admitted after having been sentenced to prison or in the wake of failed parole or probation supervision hence their status is repudiated. In the course of the past three decades, a noteworthy increase in incarceration rates is evident with a big portion of it due to drug-related crimes.

Another reason is the increased number of re-incarceration as a result of offenders’ failure to successfully complete their terms of probation or parole. The latest national information demonstrates that out of 549,000 convicts who returned in prison in 2007, almost 218,000 amounting (42 percent) were parole violators. Out of these violators, half of them were imprisoned subsequently to having their parole revoked owing to different infringements while another number was due to committing new offenses. Frequently the violators are put back to prison for minor conduct that should not merit additional sentencing.

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There are indications that prison sentences are likely to increase in the coming decades as the impacts of long-term sentencing take hold in serving a more prominent extent of their sentences (Hanser and Gomila 87). Evidence for this pattern can be drawn from the U.S Department of Justice, which projects that in the near future the LOS in prison will likely grow to more than 40 months. Another crucial factor is that the rules of parole and the parole board have continued to be strict within many states while retaining uncertain sentencing and discretionary discharge power for the majority of offenders. The contributing factor to the more extended lengths of stay in the pattern for parole boards to end up with more prohibitive measures towards granting parole.

Along these lines, if one wanted to locate the wellspring of future prison populace development, it would be centered on the purported ‘back end’ of the criminal justice framework. The cases of parole in America are in essence declining (Hanser and Gomila 91). As proposed above, legislation is enacted with an objective of extending prison terms and making it more difficult for qualifying offenders to be granted parole or discharge, combined with declining parole discharge rates, and high rate of revocation all are adding to increases in the prisoner population. In this way, future development in the prison framework will happen not based on sending more individuals to prison, but as a result of imprisoning them for longer timeframes or on the grounds that they are failing to complete probation or parole.

European Principles

The European framework is designed around the focal precepts of re-socialization and rehabilitation. This is contrary to correctional system frameworks in the U.S., where incapacitation is key, and rehabilitation acts are clearly secondary. It is worth noting that the emphasis on rehabilitation is plainly expressed in the laws of the land. For instance, Germany's Prison Act stipulates that the point of imprisonment is to empower detainees towards a life of social responsibility and reducing the odds that they will become repeat offenders upon discharge. Here the principle of normalization applies in which case it requires that prison life be equally comparable to the normal life in the community and sorted in a manner to encourage reintegration into society.

The German Federal Constitutional Court has expressed that general society's security is not a ‘point’ of control all by itself, but rather a ‘self-evident’ undertaking within any system of confinement. This task is best determined by a guilty party's effective re-integration into society. On the same note, the core objective of the Netherlands Penitentiary Principles Act is re-socialization of detainees in which imprisonment is done with limitations prudent through the rules of association in prison, among the offenders and society in general.

Therefore, convicts are urged to maintain and develop associations with each other both inside and outside the prison environment. These standards of rehabilitation illuminate the sentencing practices and in addition to the state of confinement for European criminal justice frameworks. Since the rehabilitation guidelines work best for non-custodial sanctions, prisons are utilized sparingly. With regard to rehabilitation and re-socialization, the basic and essential objectives of disciplinary actions are less punitive in nature and instead more objective-oriented.

In the European case, imprisonment is not applied in most scenarios but when used, it is for a comparatively shorter time frame. However, they depend vigorously on non-custodial sanctions and redirection, with just a small percentage of convicted offenders (for example, 6 percent in Germany and 9 percent in the Netherlands) who are sentenced to prison. In many cases, serious law violations, for example, robbery, assault, and different criminal acts deemed felonies in America, the courts usually divert guilty parties far from judges’ sanction with hefty fines or suspended sentences. Indeed, European courts use fines as a fundamental sanction. In 2010 alone, fines in Germany were utilized in close to 79 percent of the cases.

Discriminations Against Blacks and Hispanics

The differences between the American and European court systems must be taken to be a prima facie scenario for the support of pervasive and institutionalized oppression against African-Americans and Hispanics within the criminal justice framework. Though there is some level of discrimination, most specialists who have looked at this case have reasoned that discrimination constructs specifically in light of race and/or ethnic grouping are not an essential driver of the unbalanced representation of the people in prison. Blumstein looked at the racial distribution of arrests for a number of crime categories committed in 1978 with the racial appropriation of jail detainees for these same classifications in 1979.

With the assumption that race-related disparities related to arrests are an indication of differential association in crime, Blumstein found that approximately 70 percent of the racial disproportionality within prisons could be attributed to differential racial contributions in genuine criminal acts (Department of Justice and the Federal Courts 12). Equally, Hindelang also found that the racial disparities in arrest cases reflected the racial characteristics of the individuals charged with the crime, as indicated by victims of the National Crime Victimization Survey (Hindelang 200).

A measure of disparity outlined by arrests fluctuated significantly depending on kind of crime, with a range of 96 percent related to homicides to just 50 percent for drug crimes. In another research study, Blumstein found that the measure of racial disparity in arrests had a small drop, falling to 76 percent. Blumstein's strategy, alongside other researchers who have replicated his work, has received criticism for aggregating the information in order to cover up a conceivably wide variety among the states and overlooking racial inclinations in arrest norms. A critical analysis of information from 1981 for arrest cases and 1982-based imprisonment information disaggregated by state, the researchers found out that the rate of disproportionality defined by differential inclusion in criminal acts stood at 68 percent but ranged from under one percent in Alaska to more than 98 percent in Mississippi with the majority of states falling beneath the national rate average.

Regarding the impact of arrests, there is generally little research on the link between racial inclinations and arrests. Indeed, analysts looking to discover proof for discrimination, for instance, Richie is compelled to presume that the few accessible investigations over the issue offer to back for both sides of the question (Hindelang 216). Moreover, Hindelang in his research found that there exists a relationship between a victim’s distinguishing evidence of the race for the offender, as well as the racial dispersion of the arrests. In a recent study, he reported that the rate of African-American offenders arrested for robbery and assault cases is higher than the rates reported by victims of criminal acts.

The reason for these high rates is attributed to arrests made on the basis of less serious criteria. In California, for instance, the black and Hispanic suspects have a higher likelihood of being searched without a warrant, and hence adding to the noteworthy probability of their cases being dismissed at the court level (Hogg, Druyts, Burris, and Drucker 42). The situational components affiliated with race may impact law enforcements' ability to get hold of suspects. Research on citizen-police relationships discovered that police have a higher probability of using force to make an arrest in racially diverse and minority zones.

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Conservative Opinion

The unnecessary imprisonment of petty, non-violent offenders is a major factor that decimates families. According to research conducted by the Minnesota Center for the American Experiment, imprisoned men face lower prospects of marriage not necessarily because they are behind bars, but rather on the grounds that serious criminal records are made it difficult to secure the gainful employment necessary for supporting a family. The sound judgment indicates that individuals living in areas experiencing high incarceration rates additionally are more likely to live in single-parent homes, creating struggles for both the parent and his or her children. This fosters a broken community that is suspicious and distrusting of law enforcement.

American state governments in 2011 alone spent approximately $63 billion on correctional facilities, an increase of 300 percent over the past three decades ago. Indeed, prison facilities rank second after Medicaid in terms of state budgetary allocation. Such figures could bring peace of mind if the proof showed that developing imprisonment rates made the citizens more secure. However, this is not the case. Since increased imprisonment debilitates more individuals, the better solution would be to invest more in law enforcement and rehabilitation programs since such expenditures reduce the likelihood of crime (Sherman and Hawkins 114).

The overall rise in imprisonment has led to a marginal reduction in crime, but it does not necessarily mean that incarceration universally leads to lower crime rates. For example, crime rates decreased drastically in 48 states between 1996 and 2008, while on the other hand incarceration rates went up in 40 states, but diminished in eight. Criminologists believe that the main issue is that once imprisonment achieves the goal of keeping the most brutal offenders off the streets, it is difficult to set a reasonable connection between further increases in incarceration rates and decreases in criminal activities.

The majority of criminologists believe that the exorbitantly increasing rates of imprisonment in the course of the last three decades have led to a 30 percent reduction in the national crime rate. Other remaining factors are debated by social researchers including demographic changes, enhanced law enforcement methodologies, for example, ‘broken windows’ policing, as well as decreased levels of lead in family items. In other words, the increased rates of imprisonment are somewhat justifiable, though the matter may have become overzealous (The U.S. Department of Justice 43).

Beginning the early 1960s through to the mid-1990s, issues related to crime prevention prevailed in American local politics. The 1988 presidential race was seemingly over after Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis failed to respond appropriately to the infamous Willie Horton advertisement in which a Massachusetts criminal serving a life jail term carried out a rape and murder during a weekend furlough. The ad, put out by a third-party group that supported George H.W. Bush, was meant to suggest that Dukakis was so soft on crime that he would allow a dangerous criminal to walk the streets. Moreover, an article featured in a September 1990 edition of Time magazine whose title was ‘The Rotting of the Big Apple,’ highlighted the muggings, thefts, and homicides taking place in New York City. This is an indication of the rise in crime despite embracing imprisonment as a mitigation measure.

Cultural Factors

Researchers such as James Wilson and Stephen Pinker have proposed major changes in social standards that have contributed to the increase in criminal acts. The issue over whether cultural liberalism has contributed to this problem is worth debating. Numerous liberals have asserted that criminal acts originated from social issues such as poverty and prejudice, and therefore solving this should take priority over tougher law enforcement measures.

Conservates advocate and demand more incarceration through the construction of new prisons, increased sentences, and stricter laws for limiting parole. While many progressives oppose this, labor unions, who typically vote Democratic in significant numbers, are generally in favor of it since it means more employment for prison guards. Perhaps the most infamous minimum sentencing law in America is California ‘Three Strikes,’ in which a convicted felon who commits three acts (even minor crimes) can face life imprisonment. This law was bolstered by the influential prison guard union in California. As a result, the state's correction facilities were overpopulated beyond their limits when the Supreme Court ordered the state to release certain convicts to mitigate serious congestion.

Due to the enormous support for increased incarceration, more prisons were being built around the country. Presently, the American judicial system hosts an overcrowded prison population and the taxpayer is the one who is ultimately losing. Lighter punishments for nonviolent criminals are more efficient, less ruinous to the family unit, and, in particular, more successful at guaranteeing public wellbeing (United States Department of Justice 60). Fortunately, improvements in research and innovation have delivered new systems such as electronic-based background checks, better court systems, and actuarial hazard and needs appraisals that provide a better match for offenders with the required level and community supervision.

A viable practice is the adoption of the Hawaiian-based HOPE supervision program, which utilizes quick and efficient randomized drug testing and the measures of probation. Within this system, the offender is assigned a color and he or she is required to should call a drug testing hotline every weekday while they are on probation. When their color is randomly chosen, the offender must go to the courthouse to take a drug test. If he or she fails the test, the offender is sentenced to a short term in prison that can be served during the weekend. Based on the success of HOPE 72% of the program participants experience a decrease in drug abuse and are 61% less likely to skip out on probation appointments. It serves as evidence that quick and efficient sanctions are more viable than taking harsh measures.

In numerous respects, Texas is the model with which conservative philosophy has driven a change in remedies. It is anticipated that more than 19,000 new prison beds, at an expense of $2.5 billion, will become necessary within the Texas correctional system in five year’s time. However, legislators voted down these expenditures and instead apportioned a little sum to extend community-based alternatives such as probation and drug treatment centers. Since Texas has shifted to these choices in 2007, the crime rate in the state has come down by 25 percent the said beds are no longer necessary. In fact, in 2011 even closed down one of its state prisons Texas. Moving forward the correctional facilities in Texas are 4,500 beds above the required limit, and officials are looking at shutting two extra facilities.

Comparing European and America

In principle, the prison framework throughout the world should be placed to ensure proper enforcement of societal principles, keep up general security, give correctional sentences to guilty parties, and rehabilitate the offenders. Despite the objectives of worldwide prison frameworks being generally common, the United States imprisons more persons per capita in comparison to other European nations. Notwithstanding the high incarceration rate, the American system keeps up a moderately high rate of recidivism, meaning that the prison system does little to rehabilitate convicts (Welch, Spohn, and Gruhl 85).

In this way, it is fundamental to investigate the successful aspects from other European prison frameworks with a specific end goal of building more grounded and more compelling projects in the U.S. In this paper we adopt a comparison between the American correctional system versus that of the Nordic system. Under this correlation, the Nordic prison framework seems to be more effective in reducing recidivism, providing education, and rehabbing offenders. Consequently, America’s lawmakers ought to consider alternative options for administrative and reformatory methodologies.

Indeed, the rate of incarceration per capita in the U.S is far higher than in every European nation. Sadly, a large portion of convicts in the U.S. will be rearrested within three years of being discharged (Rubin, Surrency, and Surrency 61). Research indicates that while some facilities and projects are effective at teaching and rehabilitating offenders to decrease recidivism, others merely exist to punishing the wrongdoer. In addition, although ensuring security for the community ought to be the basic capacity for the prison systems, an increase in attention must be placed on the education and rehabilitation of detainees to counteract the cyclic nature of arrests, conviction, discharge, and then repeating the same process again.

Numerous prison facilities in the U.S. operate in a somewhat secretive manner with regard to the general population. Although these elements exist to serve the essential capacity of the prison framework, these organizations, such as Corrections Corporation of America, are profit-driven rather than focused on rehabilitation (United States Department of Justice). In essence, the more prisoners who remain in the system, the more lucrative the for-profit prison industry will be. As a result, rehabilitation is not a factor when considering such matters of the corporations compared to development expenses, administration pay rates, and workers' compensation.

Generally, the U.S. prison system is in most cases has failed at rehabilitating prisoners in light of the high rates of recidivism. Significant obstacles to rehabilitation include the absence of drug rehabilitation programs, a general lack of funding for rehabilitation projects, and compulsory sentencing for specific criminal acts, which may drive some into prison facilities who eventually take in criminal conduct from their associates. It is, therefore, essential to look at the successful techniques used by prison facilities in the U.S. in order to provide rehabilitation that applies general behavior standards.

Indicators for Escalated Incarceration Rates in the U.S

Research has exhibited diverse challenges facing the prison framework capacities in numerous ways including lacking educational opportunities, lack of employment, dependence on public aid, and inclusion in criminal movements. Secondary school dropouts form the largest demographic among incarcerated persons (M?ller 47). Dropouts are least likely to be unemployed depending upon public aid and have little earnings. Indeed, deficiency in proper education, harsh disciplinary practices, and the absence of parental support are strong indicators that contribute to dropout rates (United States Department of Justice). A progression of studies has concentrated on behavioral examples and disciplinary moves made towards students who, in the long run, drop out of school and find themselves in the prison system. In this piece, the proposition is that students who act against educational guidelines are most likely to receive punishment.

European Prison Overview

The majority of Americans conceptualize their comprehension of imprisonment through their encounters and media depictions of the legal framework. Hence, it might be hard to consider a framework that does not depend solely on correctional measures but instead takes care of the rehabilitation of prisoners. In contrast to the American system, the structure of the European prison system has put in place mechanisms for rehabilitating offenders to specifically address recidivism. For instance, the biggest prison within the Nordic region houses roughly 350 convicts, with most of their prisons being generally small with a capacity of about 100 prisoners (McShane 33). The theory behind the restricted jail size is to keep up a few dynamic prisons in a wide area within the country, permitting prisoners to live in closer proximity to their families. As a result, European detainees can maintain a connection within their community and strengthen family bonds, as they undergo rehabilitation (European Prison Rules 37).

The facilities of the European prison are ordinarily categorized as either open or closed. Under these classifications, the detainees will first go to a closed and more prohibitive prison to serve a greater part of their sentence. As the jail sentence approaches the end, the prisoner is taken to an open jail that is an establishment for prisoner rehabilitation permitting the offenders more opportunities, a more casual environment, fewer security restrictions, and increased measures that ensure community reintegration (McShane 33).

For instance, in a Dutch open jail, imaginative expense reducing measures prompted expanded social conduct by keeping six prisoners in an extensively big cell that incorporates day-to-day activities intended to advance positive social connections and freedom. The conventional European cell is situated on a wing off of the jail's principal hall, and every wing has a focal room that contains a TV set and a kitchenette.

Furthermore, the cell facilities and barriers-like walls are removed when the need arises. Although these closed correctional facilities keep uptight security checks, the open jails permit offenders the opportunity to walk along on the grounds in an unrestricted manner and keep their door locked. Under such flexibility, numerous open imprisonment facilities use technology to account for and track the movement of their prisoners. Thus, such surveillance levels create both a more secure environment and foster positive socialization practices as offenders strive to conduct themselves in a productive manner. In other words, the objective of open jails is to reduce the distance between the prisoner's social life and the physical world.

Research Design and Methodology

This chapter provides a description of the design and methodology adopted within the research. More specifically, the methodology includes elements such as research design, data sources, population, sampling and sample determination, and the data analysis. It further gives a description of the validity and reliability of the research instruments and ethical issues considered while conducting the research.

Research Approach and Design

This research study adopts both approaches to qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research focuses on collecting variable data from participants in order to have a better understanding of the characteristics of the subject. This approach methodology is mostly used to define a problem. On the other hand, quantitative research is concerned with the analysis of facts, figures as well as hard data, meaning the use of standardized measures to compare and contrast. Quantitative research seeks causality for determining, predicting, and generalizing findings, while qualitative researchers seek to estimate and understand the situations.

A mixed methodology research design was deemed most appropriate in this research since both approaches providing a holistic result. The qualitative approach helped the researcher gain more focused insight based on the views of prisoners’ within American correctional facilities. Moreover, it provided information on the perceptions as well as experiences for organs within the federal government.

Quantitative research is essential in helping to quantify data hence enabling the researcher to form the facts and patterns of research. A mixed research design helps only to uncover and give interpretations for the inner views of the concerned persons regarding matters of incarceration but equally determine, predict, and enhance the generalization of the findings. The design helps to bracket, analyze, and make comparisons between American and European experiences. Of essence is the significance of the findings that will be obtained from this study as it will go a long way in understanding the pros and the cons of the prison systems.

Data Collection

The collection of data was an exercise conducted through individual interviews and by using semi designed questionnaires. These questionnaires were then distributed to selected participants and later followed up with individual interview sessions. A collection of data in this study provided the researcher with an appropriate sample size for the study.

Accessibility Issues

Accessibility is a factor that is very crucial in carrying out the research. Whenever the researcher fails to access primary or/and secondary data on this research subject, it is expected that the results will be vague. In this particular study, most of the primary data was drawn from a selected set of participants through administering questionnaires and conducting a one-on-one interview. Secondary data was drawn from federal government journals, periodicals, electronic materials, library books, and previous researches conducted on judicial systems in the United States.

Data Gathering Instrument and Procedures

Obtaining data for the research was one of the stipulated research objectives. The tools adopted for data collection during the research include:


The questionnaires used for the study were of both structured and unstructured nature and were developed to assist the researcher in gathering relevant information on the subject of imprisonment and the entire process of seeking justice in the US. The objective of adopting questionnaires was to generate reliable and valid data from a big percentage of participants within the stipulated time frame and at a minimum cost. A closed-ended questionnaire is essential in coding and analyzing responses while the open-ended format allowed for rich and intensive responses. The questionnaires were administered by the researcher along with his team of assistants to every respondent.

However, due to the busy schedules of the participants, the team in some cases had to wait a while before the questionnaires were returned, but encouraged the participants to provide answers to every question. This is paramount in ensuring the team gets all necessary data important for the successful results of the study.

One-on-one Interviews

Conducting a research interview makes it possible to understand the subjects’ point of view and to gain deeper knowledge about their experiences. Through such interviews, subjects are able to convey from others a case in their own perspectives and in their own words. Besides the information collected through the questionnaires, the researchers recommended a one-on-one interview with the respondents in order to supplement the information from the questionnaires. A major objective of this interview was exploring respondents’ views with regard to judicial systems and the conditions of imprisoned persons in the US compared to European nations.

Reliability of Research Instrument

Reliability is the measure of preciseness that the instruments give towards the desired subject. In this case, the questionnaires effectively gave a measure for what it was designed to do while the researcher facilitated for internal consistency. The latter concept in this study gives an estimation of reliability by grouping together questions in a framework that provides results for the same concept. The administering of questionnaires to the respondents within the diverse areas of the US was consistent and followed a logical sequence to ensure that responses were not contradicting or conflicting with one another.

The Validity of Research Instruments

Whether the research instruments are truly valid in the research or not is determined by checking the measures that it was intended to do. The major objective is the attainment of both content and external validity. Content validity is the extent to which research instruments fully capture the variables under consideration. On the other hand, external validity means the extent for generalizing study findings over and above the samples used. To enhance the aspects of external validity for these instruments, the researcher adopted an appropriate sample size whose representation captured the total population under study in order to generalize the findings. Careful drafting of the questionnaires was essential in guaranteeing the content validity of the questions in a bid to provide viable answers to the research.

Also, the cognitive issues that were likely to emerge, such as misunderstandings in the questions or language barrier, were duly addressed before administering the questionnaires. Successful operation on this called for designing the questions in a language understandable to all the respondents and could provide their answers in the same language. These responses in the questionnaires were descriptive in nature more so owing to the fact that respondents were asked to choose between "agree", "disagree", "both" or "neither." To check on the validity of these instruments, a 5-point Likert Scale was employed in measuring the responses. However, only 4 points were used in a score for values of 1 given to disagree, 2 somewhat disagree, 3 somewhat agree, and finally 4 for agree.

Ethical Considerations

In ethical consideration aspects, the research ought to acknowledge the due diligence as well as honesty and integrity. Ethical concerns for a research study checks on the norms of behavioral conduct that differentiates between acceptable and undesirable behaviors. Doing this helps protect the respondents’ rights. To facilitate this, there was a need to ensure the rights of anonymity, confidentiality, and informed consent (M?ller 49). Permission was sought and obtained from the respondents who were informed about the essence of the research along with the needed information. There was also an assurance that participants were not subject to potential risks or expenses in carrying out the exercise.

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Data Analysis and Result Presentation

Data analysis is a systematic procedure of analyzing both verbal and recorded forms of communication in a bid to measure variables. The collected data were subjected to an analysis by way of calculating percentages, mode, and average. The findings are then presented in the form of tables, graphs, and charts to express a clear visual representation.


This chapter focuses on the results that were obtained from the secondary research that was carried out. The data that were relevant to the research were comprehensively elaborated in this section. In addition, the recommended data presentations were employed. The results that were obtained fulfilled the objectives that were set for the research. The finding or results and data analysis from the data collected from the questionnaire have also been presented in this chapter.

Survey Population

As the research was on the case of America’s prison system, the population of current research comprised of employees of the justice system as well as serving prisoners. The author invited 100 employees to take part in the research study. Out of these 100, a total of 50 responded to the survey. The mode of communication adopted to collect data was personal interview through the phone; written response received through mail and emails. Below is a detailed discussion of the responses received to each research question;

Gender Participation

Of the respondents, 57% were male and the remaining 43% were females. All of them have spent time in prison or are currently serving a sentence in prison in the US or in European countries. Among those from the US, close to 80% were of black or non-white Hispanic origin. This could be attributed to high rates of racial discrimination.

The Age in Prison

At middle age (41-50) the research revealed higher levels of incarceration as indicated by the respondents’ age groups. This age range contained the largest number of inmates especially those who were re-offenders. Within this age group, there was a high rate of responses from those who had reoffended, and again most of them were of African-American or non-white Hispanic origin.

What is the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the prison systems in the US?

Of the 100 respondents that recorded their responses, 34% were moderately dissatisfied with the prison systems. In addition, 8% of the respondents expressed that they were extremely dissatisfied. A further 20% stated that they experienced slight satisfaction with the imprisonment system and the whole judicial process. However approximately 16% were undecided about their level of satisfaction, and the remaining 22% were satisfied. From the overall results, most employees are dissatisfied with the prison systems in the U.S.

Conclusion and Recommendations

This research outlined diverse ways, either through administrative or legislative means, through which legislators can make a move to reduce their state's prison population, and in the process save resources, keep the community safe, and at the same time develop a reasonable justice framework. The over-reliance on prison systems harms the public individually, collectively, and as a country.

Numerous states, including the ones discussed in this report, have recognized this reality and have started the procedure of mitigation on their criminal justice frameworks. There is still however more opportunity for change in each state in the US. According to this survey, focusing on reforming one side of criminal justice policies is not the panacea, but realizing that reform is a progressive procedure.

It is conceivable to develop criminal justice reform procedures that will bring together bipartisan law enforcement and administrative backing, and also gain the support of the community with the hope of reducing the inmate population and expenditures without compromising on public wellbeing. Reforms can be selected from a wide menu of desirable changes though it is essential to resolve to change.


The criminal justice system should establish a criminal sentencing task force that is given the responsibility of evaluation, as per the rules and recommendations held within community corrections policies. The duty of this task force includes reviewing existing criminal laws; conducting an evaluation of actual against the intended implications of practices resulting from a sentence as well as trends that relate to the general policies. Moreover, the task force should assume duty in measuring the effect of sentencing laws and obligations towards the development of detainee-community supervision for offenders.

Furthermore, it should conduct a review of all statutory and legislative bonds with the capability to measure how effective the required minimum sentencing and offender statutes work towards the achievement of eligibility criteria for justice and sanction options. Another recommendation is to have a task force comprising of members such as the state's attorney general, a public defender, a judge of the criminal court, probation officer, and representative of the Board of Parole. In addition, the Department of Policy and Management should ensure that the Justice Planning Division stays in touch within the mandated framework.

On this note, the Justice Planning Division is recommended to conduct a vast study of the system with considerations on recidivism in order to define recidivism including but not be limited to: newly committed criminal acts by individuals who are not held in custody or in the supervision of justice frameworks. Secondly, tracking offenses committed under the stringent supervision of the system while tracking the rates of recidivism.

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