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Jail and Prison Comparison: Description, History, Pros and Cons, and Factors Essay

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Updated: May 12th, 2022

A description of jail’s place in corrections and its role throughout history

The jails have an important role to play in the corrections and criminal justice system. Jails are significant in controlling the ever-rising populations of offenders within the country. Those in charge of conserving peace must keep the offenders put on provisional confinement in their jurisdictional control safe. Also, sheriffs throughout the nation are mandated to confine those who have been sent to the county jails for periods that take not more than twelve months. In as much as the jails are designed to hinder many people from ever being taken to the prisons, some are contracted with other government institutions to incarcerate people who have been convicted of crimes temporarily. Individuals convicted in various offenses normally of a higher degree than general misdemeanors are at times detained in jails because of the full capacities that have already been recorded at the state as well as federal stages. If by chance such detention centers were unavailable in the counties of the United States of America, then there would certainly abound more expensive options to ferry criminals to central sites. During the time that criminals are in jails, it offers the judicial system the chance and opportunity of establishing who deserves a move to prison.

A summary of the history of state and federal prisons

In as much as the state and federal prisons in the United States of America may at times detain certain individuals for similar offenses, both prison systems are similar although several differences abound which make each type special on its own. Normally, in the federal prisons and system, individuals are detained for lengthy periods. In addition, the federal prisons are mostly likened to white collar offenders while state prisons are associated with blue collar offenses. The state prisons have been in place as early as 1800. This started with the construction of a prison known as Sing Sing prison. This is one of the historic state prisons that still stand to date. The state prison system is made up of an amalgamation of a collection of smaller prisons that detain a larger part of the United States prison numbers. From the time the state prisons were created, the country has faced a large population growth (Douglas, 2005).

In the United States, the basic history of federal prisons dates back to the 1890s. However, a bill was later signed in 1930 that began the process of starting a federal prison which would in essence commission the construction of real federal amenities. The federal administration had for a long time made use of the state and local government to detain people. This actually played an important role in the federal government since it would make issues easy during payment for those incarcerated at the state as well as local situations. Federal prison systems managed to develop more with the occurrence of several thefts witnessed in banks among other many white-collar felonies.

A comparison of the similarities and differences between security levels in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons

State prisons and federal prisons operate in two different jurisdictions. However, they all serve the purpose of punishing and reforming criminals within the United States of America. Federal prisons have the mandate to incarcerate criminals who have been convicted of committing crimes illegalized by congress. On the other hand, state prisons deal with criminals convicted of offenses prohibited by-laws within states. Such crimes are burglary, GTA, assault, drug crimes among others. In terms of security differences, one notes that the level of security is higher in federal prisons compared to state prisons. This is ascribed to a number of reasons. One of them is that federal prisons are less crowded. This means prisoners have adequate space. Consequently, they access better aeration as well as adequate space for body movements. This is helpful for their health. In addition, the prison personnel in federal prisons are quite knowledgeable compared to those in state prisons. The better remuneration of federal prison staff serves as an impetus towards rendering better services. Such a staff understands the rights and obligations of every prisoner.

As far as similarities are concerned, one realizes that state prisons and federal prisons do share a common structure. For instance, there exists medium, minimum, and maximum security in both prisons. Essentially, if a criminal is considered hardcore, he is incarcerated within the maximum-security prison. Both governments established these levels to ensure that criminals convicted of different crime levels are not placed within a single roof. It is a policy that seeks to reduce violence and other unscrupulous activities among prisoners. It is factual that housing a prisoner who has been convicted of a felony with one who has committed a misdemeanor may cause superiority strife among the two. Ultimately, unnecessary chaos may crop up (Engdahl, 2010).

An explanation of factors influencing growth in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons

The rate of growth in US jails is quite alarming. Recent research shows that growth in federal jails is higher compared to state jails. According to the most recent study, there is a 0.9% jail growth in state prisons and a 5.8% jail growth in federal prisons. This implies that there are so many people breaking laws set by congress. Alternatively, one would conclude that the vigilance level of the federal government is simply higher compared to state governments. All in all, there are crucial reasons as to why there is a general growth in jails.

Sentencing policies in both governments have been made strict. Today, it is insisted that any criminal should be sentenced appropriately. Thus, mandatory minimum penalties have been established. This is a strategy to ensure no criminal is left off the hook over minor crimes. This policy has greatly increased the population in prisons. With this policy, it is foreseen that prisons shall be overpopulated shortly.

The rate of admission to prisons is outpacing the release rates. There are so many prisoners being sentenced. One would attribute this to strict correctional policies. Apart from that, the parole system has been sidelined over the past years. Parole involves releasing a prisoner from jail and subjecting them to outside punishments or just freeing them. It is granted to criminals who have fewer sentences or those who are almost finishing their incarceration period. Its existence significantly helped reduce the prison population.

Lastly, a step up in the fight against drugs has led to increased jail growth. In the US, for instance, the fight against drugs led to an increase of prisoners from 23,700 in 1980 to 173,600 by 1990 and 319,600 in 1999. This increase has created a strain of prison facilities to not only federal prisons but also state prisons.

References

Douglas, H. (2005). Prisons and Jails in America. New York: Routledge Publishers.

Engdahl, S. (2010). Prisons. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press.

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IvyPanda. "Jail and Prison Comparison: Description, History, Pros and Cons, and Factors." May 12, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jail-and-prison-comparison-description-history-pros-and-cons-and-factors/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Jail and Prison Comparison: Description, History, Pros and Cons, and Factors." May 12, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jail-and-prison-comparison-description-history-pros-and-cons-and-factors/.

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