How successful has the prison system been in achieving a balance between disciplinary and therapeutic strategies in dealing with drugs? Introduction:
The role of the prison can be described in various ways. Nevertheless, in a broader sense, prisons are meant to perform the varied objectives of punishment which include deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation. The generalized understanding of the function of the prison is however, at the least, to keep troublesome individuals away from the society. In this regard, the prison facility has traditionally been used in keeping away individuals who are regarded as being socially unfit given that they have been used in incarcerating those who either deserved punishment or perceived to be dangerous to the public. The statements regarding the prison goals reveal the combination of seemingly incompatible aims. Prisons are said to be aiming at containing prisoners and supervising offenders in a humane and cost effective way which meets the expectations of the society in regard to safety, compensation, and the encouragement of the offenders to adopt a law abiding lifestyle. The concept of humane and cost effective inevitably creates tensions. In real sense, the rehabilitative function of the prisons requires that there be significant resources for programs and education and this does not comfortably rhyme with the concept of cost effectiveness as well as punitive measure which is one of the core functions of the prison system. In relation to the drug abuse issue, the prison system has to strike a balance between acting as a disciplinary strategy and also as a therapeutic strategy for the drug offenders (Irwin & Austin, 1994). This paper shall aspire to look at how successful has the prison system within the United States been able to strike a balance between disciplinary and therapeutic strategies in dealing with drug abusers. Background:
Drugs and drug-use related behavior is often linked to numerous criminal activities. Within the United States, it is a criminal offence to engage in usage, possession, manufacture and distribution of drugs which have been categorized as illegal. It has been noted that the impacts of drug-related behavior which may include violence and robberies has an influence on the day to day running of the community (Irwin & Austin, 1994). In the year 1999, it was estimated that over six million adults which comprised of slightly over 3% of the adult population were placed under correctional supervision. In addition, close to 100,000 juveniles were incarcerated in both public and private juvenile facilities for non-status offenses. 9% of the juveniles were said to be drug offenders. Statistics from the 1998 prison population data indicated that 21 per cent of the state prison population represented drug offenders and that 59 per cent of Federal prison population comprised of drug offenders during the same year. In 1998, it was also noted that over 25 per cent of all inmates who had been placed under local supervision were imprisoned for drug related offences (Whitehousedrugpolicy.gov, 2008). The increasing trend reflected in drug offender prison population indicates that there has been a gradual increase in arrests made related to drug offenses. The Federal Bureau of Investigation records show that in the year 1980, over 580,000 arrests for drug offenses were made and the number of arrests reached peak in 1997 when close to 1,560,000 arrests were made. In 1999, over 1,530,000 drug-related arrests were made which represented close to 11% of the total arrests in that year. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) approximate that between 60 per cent and 83 percent of the country’s correctional population have at least used drugs at some point in their lives; which is double the approximation of the drug use of the total American population. In the year 1997, over 80,000 and 990,000 male inmates...
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