Criminals

     Do prisons teach people to become worse criminals? Many people think that a
prisoner is taught how to be a better criminal while in prison. Prisoners are
integrated with people that have committed worse crimes than the ones that they
have committed. The bigger and better criminals teach the others what they need
to learn to survive prison life. There are many other aspects of prison that can
make a prisoner worse than when he or she went in. Are prisons helping to stop
the crime wave? For starters, prisons around the United States are extremely
overcrowded. Wyoming is a good example of overcrowding in prisons. We have had
to send a number of prisoners to Colorado because we have run out of room to
keep them in Wyoming. The number of people sent to prisons were for drug
offences more than violent crimes(). Some people are saying that making some
drugs legal, such as marijuana, would decrease the number of prisoners
drastically. There are also evidence that even though they are in prison, they
can still buy and sell drugs. It has been found that 80% of drug offenders that
have received sentences in New York have never been convicted of a violent
felony or committed a violent crime. It was found that one in four drug
offenders in prison was convicted of simple possession (Human Rights Watch). Are
prisoners learning prejudice in prisons? There is evidence of this. Some civil
rights organizations are calling for renewed scrutiny of the segregation
policies of many state and federal prisons, charging that they inadvertently
promotes growth of hatred and serve as recruiting grounds for supremacist
groups. David Novak, a man who spent a year in a federal prison camp, said that
it left an imprint of racial intolerance on him. He said he felt compassion for
the three white murder suspects in the killing of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, TX.

Two of the three allegedly have made ties with white-supremacist gangs while
they were behind bars. Novak said, "In prison it is easy to fall into such
groups (Prejudice in Prisons). Prison officials acknowledge that cell-blocks are
often segregated by race. Putting members of rival gangs together not only
endangers the prisoners, but also the lives of the guards and the very security
of the institution. Texas is the nationís most integrated prison. In 1987, a
federal district court ruled to ban cell-block segregation in the state. Since
the ruling went into effect, prison murders have dropped by half to an average
of five per year (Prejudice in Prisons). There is argument that life in prison
isnít actually all that hard. Itís more like a paid vacation than a
punishment. While in prison, everything you have is paid for by the government.

The food is free, the cable is free, the clothes are free, and you even get to
lift weights and work for money. If you want, you can even get an education
while in prison. Many prisons offer a chance to get your GED or even a college
education. Prisons are equipped with libraryís that have computers that the
inmates can use. There are many issues concerning weightlifting in prison. These
are things such as inmates using size and strength gained from weightlifting as
a weapon against guards, other inmates, or the public upon their release. People
do not want their tax dollars being used to provide gymnasiums and new weight
rooms for felons. Weightlifting equipment could be used as a weapon against
guards or other inmates. Weightlifting equipment could be used as a tool to
escape. And most of all, prison is not supposed to be a "nice place." We do
not want them to come back again and again (Strengthtech). Some incidents have
occurred from weight lifting in prison. Such as, in a Ohio prison riot, inmates
used weightlifting bars to batter down a concrete wall protecting guards. One of
the guards was killed. In a New York prison, fifteen correctional officers and
ten inmates were injured in a gymnasium when a fight broke out between two
inmates (Strengthtec). It seems that by allowing prisoners to have these
luxuries, they are only making themselves stronger and making it easier for them
to escape. It may also be telling them that it is okay to go to prison. Another
bad thing about prisons is there is no segregation between HIV/Aids victims and
non HIV/Aids victims. Prisons around the world have grossly disproportionate
rates of HIV infection and of confirmed Aids cases. For example, in the United

States in 1994, there were 5.2 cases of Aids per 1,000 prisoners. This is nearly
six times the incidence found in the general adult population (Human Rights

Watch). Not only do people entering prison tend to have a relatively high
incidence of HIV, prisons provide a perfect breeding ground for transmission of
the virus. High risk behaviors, such as injecting-drug use and unprotected sex,
including coerced sex, are common in prisons around the word. Health care is
usually substandard and sometimes nonexistent. Rather than providing prisoners
with prevention tools, notably condoms for safe sex, and liquid bleach for
sterilizing needles and syringes, prison administrators frequently bar the entry
of these items. Even HIV/Aids education, which could help prisoners understand
their vulnerability to the virus, is rarely found in the worldís prisons
(Human Rights Watch). There is also the question of private prisons, and whether
they are worth having. With promises of big savings, private prisons seem to
offer a solution. But opponents of private prisons say that the truth lies where
the money is. For private corrections business, inmates equal dollars. When the
profit is being jeopardized when there arenít enough inmates, private
facilities will take anyone from anywhere to ensure that their revenues exceed
their expenses, regardless of the inmateís classification or whether or not
the facility and staff are prepared for them (Corrections.com). Some feel that
some issues are being ignored when comparing the costs of operating private
facilities and the costs of operating public facilities. These include the
amount spent on government monitoring of private operations which is conducted
by government personnel, unemployment benefits for former corrections officers
who lose their position as a result of the private takeover, the continued
reliance by private firms on government services to address issues such s public
health problems, riots, employee strikes, and chasing after escapees (Corrections.com).

Some private corrections firms may under represent projected costs and over
represent estimated savings to generate new business and beat out their
competition. So it seems, that prisons should not become private prisons after
all. The rise in the prison population in recent years Is remarkable given that
crime rates have been falling nationally since 1992. With less crime, one would
assume that fewer people would be sentenced to prison. This has been overridden
by the increasing impact of lengthy mandatory sentencing policies. Such as,
mandatory minimums, the "three strikes" policies, and "truth in
sentencing," which requires certain offenders to serve 85% of their prison
sentence (Sentencingproject.com). Due to the fact that prisoners are starting to
serve more of their terms, they are getting tired of waiting around in prison.

There is overcrowding, causing uneasiness in prison gangs, because they are
having to integrate. Prisoners are being taught by other prisoners tricks of the
trade, and are coming out worse criminals than they were before. They are also
coming out bigger than they were before because they are allowed things such as
weight machines and gymnasiums. And why wouldnít someone like to go to prison?

In prison everything is free, and itís an easy life. Therefore, I donít
believe that putting more people in prison for more and more crimes is the
answer. Prisons donít deter people from committing crimes, they only teach
them better crimes.

Bibliography
http://www.mcc.org/ http://www.sentencingproject.org/ http://www.esva.net/
http://www.csmonitor.com/ http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/ http://www.ncjrs.org/homepage.htm
http://www.corrections.com/