Separationfrom the rest of the community after an offence is considered thehumane way of punishing criminals. Since time memorial, there hasbeen facilities for incarceration used to punish criminals. Jails andprisons are some of these confinement facilities where offenders areheld for a specific period of time (Wylie, 2008). However, variousdifferences exist between the two. A jail is used to hold offendersfor a short period while they await trial. It can also be used tohold those awarded bail but are not able to raise it as well as houseoffenders on transfer from one holding facility to another temporary.A prison on the other hand confines criminals according to differentsecurity levels for a certain period of time as ordered by the court.
Thefirst jails in history were meant house the less fortunate in thesociety including the poor, the mentally ill, the homeless and somecriminals. The jails were therefore used to protect the rich frominteracting with the poor. The living standards of those confined inthese jails were poor and inhumane. With time, the jails started tobe used to confine criminals before they were sent to prison (Wylie,2008). This in turn confirms the security of the community from theguilty offender.
Initially,various cruel forms of punishment were used including torture,humiliation or even death. However, this methods were deemed to beagainst human rights leading to the inception of prisons in 1700. In1890, the federal prison system was established after PresidentHoover signed the federal prison system bill (Seiter, 2011). Thesefacilities were run by the local government and housed criminalsgenerally without any distinction according to security level. Thishas nevertheless changed with reference to prisons being classifiedaccording to different security levels nowadays. There were a totalof 24 prisons meaning that they housed a large number of inmates(Seiter, 2011). However, more facilities have been built leading toone prison confining only a small number of people.
Theliving conditions of the prisons were poor and this led to arevolution to try and make them humane. This led to theestablishments of various rights of prisoners. In 1967, policy makerschanged the federal prison system to be rehabilitative rather thanpunitive a philosophy that is being upheld to date.
Jails,state and federal prisons are classified into four according to thelevel of security: low security, medium security, high security andmaximum security. Low level security are used for nonviolentoffenders mainly first time offenders. Medium security prisons areused for incarceration of offenders of nonviolent crimes too andthose almost finishing up their sentence in high security prisons.High security are used for violent criminals and maximum securityprisons are used for the most violent such as those who commitmurder. The inmates in a maximum security are locked are locked allthe time except for 1 hour a day.
Severalfactors have led to the rise in the number of jails, state andfederal prisons. These factors include the rise in population leadingto increased poverty levels which in turn increases the rate ofcrime. The lack of proper rehabilitation and correction leads torecurrence of crimes. The rise in the cases of drug abuse andaggression has also led to the increase in the number of crimes andsubsequently the number of jails and prisons. The institution of newlaws over time has also increased the number of crimes beingsentenced.
Inconclusion, jails and prisons are an important part of the society asthey help establish a code of behavior among people. The governmentshould however pay attention to the real issues that lead toincreased crime and device policies to tackle them. In so doing, thenumber of crimes would reduce which would subsequently reduce theneed for this facilities.
Seiter,R. (2011). Corrections an introduction (3rd edition). Upper SaddleRiver, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. Print
Wylie,T. (2008). Crime, prisons, and jails (2007 Ed.). Detroit, MI: ThomsonGale.