Websters Dictionary defines “Correction” as the act of making something accurate or better.” The dictionary also defines “correction as the act or process of punishing and changing the behavior of people who have committed crimes.” Reminiscent of Orwellian 1984, many prison systems in the United States are designated the “Department of Corrections.” Naturally, the prison guards are called “Correctional Officers.”
The statistics show that the majority of American prison systems are not achieving the goal that is implied in their name – making individual inmates better. The United States has the most inmates in the world. The United States has more prisons than any other country, including Russia and China. Our recidivism rates are very high. The 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States indicated that more than 4 in 10 will return to prison within three years of release. Recidivism rates vary from state to state. California is at the high end with 60 percent and South Carolina is at the low end with 32 percent. Between 2004 – 2007, 30 percent of individuals released from federal prisons under supervision were returned to prison.
The above statistics prove that our prison agencies should have a more accurate title – Department of No-Corrections. Punishment without rehabilitation and effective re-entry programs equal a high recidivism rate. A high recidivism rate means overcrowded prisons, increased costs to our taxpayers, and a deficient society. Prisonpath.com has posted over the last fifteen months articles about the lack of effective education programs for inmates, the poor medical care in our prisons and jails, and the desperate need for quality re-entry programs in and outside of our prisons and jails. Without such measures enacted, our prison systems should not use “corrections” in their title.
By B.D. Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com