The American penal system as critics say is among the worst penal system in the world today. Over the years, prison sentences have been the major way of punishment for those who commit wrongs against the state.
To begin with, America has the highest number of prisoners both in terms of the population and also in terms of the rate of people per every a hundred citizens. Such people are held in archipelagos in various positions in the country some for life sentences while others are serving sentences of up to 30 years. The point here is that the number of prisoners are increasing while the number of prisons arent. Moreover, the punishment given to such offenders does not take into account their financial background or the minority population and hence something needs to be done before its too late.
Though the government spends a lot of money in its criminal justice system, it is sad to note that the lions share of this money goes to the police and the judiciary and not the correctional services. This simply implies that the American system is more interested in arresting and prosecuting criminals and not the welfare of the criminal as they serve their sentence.
A person is arrested and fined an amount of up to 90,000 dollars. The arrested person we should bear in mind is a man on the street whose income is not even a quart of the fine given. The only alternative to this is a custodial sentence of up to a year or two in prison. I am not in any way trying to advocate the poor to be released on terms, my advocacy is for the alternative punishment be introduced and those which are there be reinforced.
In light of the discussion above, it is time the American penal system be amended to favor all the citizens and not only some. To begin with, the three strikes law should be done away with. it is among the laws that are prejudicial to the accused person in America. if one already has a history of two felonies in the past, then upon appearing before the jury for a third makes the jury have a pre-judgment of the person. If one has to be tried, he should be tried independent of the previous convicted offences.
Fines in America usually come as an alternative to a prison sentence. This law should be amended to separate a fine and a sentence. In many occasions, those who are unable to pay the fines usually opt for prisons. From this, it can be construed that such laws only favor the rich people since they are the ones that have the ability to pay the fines so as to evade the custodial sentence. The indigent citizens have only one option which is prison. By introducing such an amendment, even if a person cannot be able to pay the whole amount instantly, he may pay it in terms provided for by the court.
Another law that should be reinforced with regards to non-violent offenders is community service. Though coded, it is a penal system that is highly not practiced. The law should be hence amended to make the system compulsory to some non-violent offences. Fining a person for a non-violent offence is not rehabilitation but simply a punishment. Some offences are so minor as to attract a fine or custody. In certain instances, the courts are usually quick to fine persons on offences simply regarded as misdemeanors. Reinforcement of such penal systems will go a long way even to reduce the budgetary allocation to the criminal justice department in America.
In conclusion, it is evident that the criminal justice system has only two working arms that is to say the judiciary and the police while the area that has been neglected is the correctional service. At the moment, the correctional service is simply a punishment for the offence one committed and not for rehabilitation purposes. Though hard, the penal system must be amended so as to show the public that it is not about punishment but about rehabilitation.
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