I think the prison system should be massively reformed. As it stands, our system is punitive, as it focuses on punishment, rather than fixing the problems. A lot of offenders can be helped, if given the right tools to succeed. There are a few possible models that can be used that are not based on punishment, but on helping. These sorts of systems lead to lower rates of recidivism.
Restorative justice was a model that was created around the concepts of offender victim reconciliation and rehabilitation (Palermo 2013). This is a concept that is used in more than 80 countries across the world (Palermo 2013). It doesn’t mean that people aren’t held accountable for their actions, as they definitely are; rather the focus is on healing and reconciling with victims, if possible (Palermo 2013). During this process, offenders will be rehabilitated and supported, to lower recidivism (Palermo 2013). Ideally, this model is designed to humanize criminal justice from the original punitive system (Palermo 2013).
This model of criminal justice is particularly useful for juveniles, as current models are not known to lower recidivism (Palermo 2013). Restorative justice is much more humane and has been shown to help children more than current systems (Palermo 2013). There is a lot of analysis still being done on how well this system works with children (Palermo 2013).
The criminal justice system is too focused on punishment and not enough on rehabilitation. It’s even worse for juveniles because they have so many opportunities to work on things and become better as adults. It is extremely hard to help criminals when punishment is the focus. Restorative justice is a model that holds offenders accountable, but also works on getting through the issues, restitution, assuaging feelings of guilt and resolving issues with victims. This system doesn’t focus much on punishment, as that’s not the goal.
Palermo, G. (2013). Restorative justice: A more understanding and humane approach to offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 57(9) 1051-53. DOI:10.1177/0306624X13495009