Policy BP 9: Crime and Punishment

There are two main philosophies regarding crime and corrections:  rehabilitation (trying to help reform prisoners so they don’t reoffend) and punishment (giving consequences to those who offend as punishment and also a deterrent against future criminals).  Based on what the book says, would you say the US has historically had a rehabilitative or punitive approach to crime?  Do you see this continuing or changing, based on current issues and trends?  Defend your position with at least 3 historical policies and one current trend.

It’s Monday again!! Class, today we’re talking about how the United States has a long history of mistreating people in the prison system. Historically, we’ve enjoyed torturing and sterilizing criminals, treating them as inferiors, and disregarding those who suffer from mental illness. We do love our punitive approach to crime. Unfortunately this seems to be continuing, and I’ll bring that up once I list the historical and current policies.

1983 Comprehensive Crime Control Act-redid the federal sentencing system and revised bail.

1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act-this law increased the number of crimes that are punishable by death and established a three-strikes law. This also mandated registration for sex offenders.

1999 Three Strikes Law-Increase prison sentences for those previously convicted of crimes that are violent and limits punishment to nothing but a prison sentence.

NOTE: I remember being so stoked when this law passed. Now I just see my tax dollars going bye-bye because adult responsibilities.

A current trend further into punitive punishment is directly reflected in the recall of the Oklahoma state bills 780 and 781 that would reduce sentencing for non-violent drug offenders and offer rehabilitation. The people of Oklahoma passed that bill, but it was recalled by the House and Senate. Hmm?? Don’t get it. Why does the state government not trust that the people of this state know what we want? And now there is no money for reform because of the spending freeze. Awesome.