Incarceration Vs Rehabilitation

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Pages: 8

In the early days of the Unites States criminal justice system, punishment and retribution were the only methods dealing with criminals. It was not until the Pennsylvania Quakers established the first prison in the United States in 1790 that the principle of rehabilitation was introduced as an alternative to capital punishment. Later, other prisons followed the Pennsylvania prison model, and incarceration and rehabilitation soon became the center of the country’s criminal justice system. These principles remained the common basis of the prison system until the 1960s. During this time, the criminal justice systems started to experience a problem with overcrowding in prisons throughout the nation. One of the main reasons that overcrowding became …show more content…
Many offenders have mental health problems such as schizophrenia, delusions, depression, and other treatable disorders. While some of these offenders perpetrated violent offenses and were a danger to themselves, surrounding inmates, and staff, many committed petty crimes. The criminal justice system incarcerates many mentally ill offenders because there are no other facilities to refer them to for treatment. In recent years, states lost $4 billion in mental health treatment funding. As a result, many mental health clinics and hospitals have shut down. Mental health advocates say the outcome of those cuts in the budget are that more mentally ill people are in prisons without proper treatment. Prisons place many of them in solitary confinement, which results in a worsening of their mental problems. The lack of treatment is responsible for many incidents where mentally ill prisoners are mistreated, causing more mental health damage, or even death. In one example, 19-year-old Kevin DeMott spent four months in solitary confinement as punishment for behavior resulting from his untreated bipolar disorder (Glazer). Another example is the case of 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell with schizophrenia. Even though a judge ordered him to get help in a state psychiatric hospital, he died while he was waiting for a bed to open (Jouvenal). These are just a few examples that demonstrate that prisons should not keep mentally ill offenders in solitary confinement, especially those that who committed minor crimes. Solitary confinement worsens their condition when instead they should receive proper treatment. In addition to the benefit to the offender’s mental health, the government will save on the cost of incarceration, and proper treatment will reduce