Incarceration is one of the legal forms of punishment for offenses including felony in the United States of America. According to the national statistics, in the year 2013 alone, incarceration rate was at 698 among 100,000 people but this later shot up in the year 2014 to 735 among 92,000 people (The National Bureau of Economic Research). The figures made America to have one of the largest prison populations in the world with a majority of the inmates having been convicted of various state laws. It pushed the government into building the prisons further and spend a lot more taxpayers’money to keep the prisons running. However, rehabilitation is a much more effective than incarceration.
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Mass incarceration is one of the issues that continues to trouble the U.S. There have been calls from among other people, the journalist, sociologist, historians and the political class on the need for intervention on mass incarceration in the U.S. It remains an issue that has a significant detrimental impact on the larger society. It is just a cycle of crime where the inmates keep on re-entering the same prisons, and the taxpayers’money is used to keep them in the prisons at the expense of other critical developments (The National Bureau of Economic Research). Some of those who troop to the jails have only been convicted of minor offenses yet they can be handled without incarceration.
It has become apparent that incarcerating the lawbreakers from time to time does not solve the challenge of crime that the U.S. continues to face to date. The unending crime arises from the inmates who are let go back the society to join the rest of the people. A lot of money and other resources are used to keep the inmates in the prisons yet when they are released back into the society; they still tend to break the law, sometimes the same mistakes that landed them in jail in the first place. Rehabilitation helps in reducing substance abuse in communities since individuals on treatment programs tend to commit fewer crimes.
Incarceration has economic, social and political impacts on the society. Studies have shown that most of the time when the inmates are released from the prisons, they find it hard reintegrating in the society and therefore, most often they commit the same offenses and end up in the prisons once again (Simon 12). Prions ought to rehabilitate people so that they are better than before they were taken into the prisons. Rehabilitation offers a cost-effective way of dealing with offenders. Keeping the inmates in prisons costs America a lot of money; a lot more than what the nation spends on its education sector. Studies have indicated that treatment reduces the costs that substance abuse offenders have in the society at least more effectively than incarceration (McVay, Schiraidi, & Ziedenberg 13).
When it comes to dealing with the substance abusing offenders, treatment is a much cheaper option than incarceration. The state uses a lot of money in incarceration which they can save up to 40 percent when the states embrace treatment rather than incarceration (Zarkin, Cowell, & Dunlap 640). Even if the state were to try and offer treatment in prison, then it would still be costlier compared to treatment done away from the prisons. Keeping inmates requires a lot of resources including food, security, clothing, and other supporting structures which most of the time are not needed when treatment is offered away from the prisons.
Almost 50 percent of all the state prisoners in the United States are either substance abuser or are drug dependent; however, only about 10 percent of them receive drug treatment while under incarceration (McVay, Schiraidi, & Ziedenberg 640). It means the majority; the 90 percent are not getting any treatment and thus it seems like by incarcerating them there is no long-term goal or even hope for them. The lack of adequate treatment for them means that they are very likely to resume substance abuse once they are done serving their terms.
Those who support incarceration argue that by taking the offenders it reduces the likelihood of the offenders influencing other people which they claim in the long run reduces the crime rate in the society. The argument further stresses that in the long run, the state saves money that would be used rehabilitate other offenders. However, incarceration has a lot to do with victimization too which cost the released inmates a lot since they find the society unwelcoming (Simon 18). When one is rehabilitated then the victimization that comes with being released from prison is avoided.
In brief, the debate in incarceration continues to draw differing arguments. Statistics have continued to show that incarceration is too costly to America and that most of the time it fails to give the desirable outcomes. While incarceration may be good at separating the lawbreakers so as to keep the rest of the people safe, taking them to prison on serves to worsen the already bad situation. In the prisons, they lack treatment and therefore commit the same crimes once they are let go from the prisons. They also face victimization which makes it hard for them to reintegrate into the society. Therefore, the U.S. should avoid incarceration as much as possible and embrace rehabilitation.
McVay, D., Schiraidi, V., & Ziedenberg. (2004). Treatment or Incarceration. Justice Policy Institute. Simon, J. (2011). Mass Incarceration: From Social Policy to Social Problem. Berkley. The National Bereau of Economic Research. (2017, December 5). Favorable Effects of Imprisoning Drug Offenders. Retrieved from The National Bereau of Economic Research: https://www.nber.org/digest/jan02/w8489.html Zarkin, G., Cowell, A., & Dunlap, L. (2012). Benefits and Costs of Substance Abuse Treatement Programs for State Prison Inmaates. PubMed, 633 – 652.
Stop Incarceration, Start Rehabilitation. (2018, Dec 29).
Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from
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