The Prison System’s Failure and Its Key Aspects


The present-day prison status in the U.S. makes one think that America is the most dangerous society in the world. According to Rubin (2021), America has over two million prisoners and an incarceration rate of 698 per 100,000 citizens, the highest in history worldwide. Many ex-convicts in the U.S. never stay long before returning to the prisons, with a substantial number committing even more dangerous crimes after their release. Consequently, using prisons as punishment centers deprives the facilities of their rehabilitative potential, making the system a failure. The following work covers several aspects proving the prison system’s failure. The first part covers the institutions’ inability to counter recidivism. The second section describes prisons’ incapacity to protect suspects’ right to life, while the next one describes the various reasons for failure. Lastly, the paper handles America’s prison history to link the current problem’s to their origin. The discussion then ends with a conclusion section to wrap up the various concepts and central argument.

Failure Proof

Inability to Counter Recidivism

A project becomes a failure if it never meets its intended purposes. According to Okun (2018), the original meaning of prisons’ establishment concerned rehabilitating offended into socially beneficial beings. The scholars note that taking debt defaulters away from the public into secluded cells during the first American prison in the 1790s intended to have them meditate and change. The same mentality informs the facilities’ existence today, even though the attained outcomes portray something else.

Prisons’ inability to counter recidivism is a crucial indicator of the correctional system’s failure. According to Rubin (2021), jails’ primary work is to take persons breaking criminal laws away from the public to offer tailored treatment that instills sense and sanity. A successful rehabilitation process occurs when someone committing a crime becomes a better person after the restoration phase. However, over half of the individuals quitting prisons end up reoffending. Bullock & Bunce (2020) report that two persons in every three ex-convicts go back into jail in less than three years. The folks get into the police officers’ hands after engaging in crimes, at times more dangerous than those committed previously. Moreover, Bullock and Bunce (2020) say that the trend is similar in England, where about sixty-six (two in three) percent of the persons freed from reformatory get back into the facilities in less than a year of discharge. Accordingly, jails’ primary purpose is to help offenders realize a changed life, where one can survive without engaging in criminal offenses (Okun, 2018). However, the high recidivism rate proves the system’s failure to meet its intended purpose, rendering prisons botched systems.

Rampant Prison-Based Deaths

The rise in prison-based deaths also confirms the correctional model’s inability to meet its purpose. Stearns et al. (2019) say that prisons must appreciate the divinity of a human’s life and thus do the corrective activities while safeguarding the person’s right to life. As per the scholars, not even a murder offense warrants an offender’s mistreatment by the prison officers or the state. That is because torturing and killing a suspected murderer leads to committing two wrongs. Moreover, Jewkes (2018) says that many convicted offenders commit offenses unwillingly or due to unfortunate circumstances that a person could not manage. Therefore, the jails’ system should work together with such suspects or offenders to help them overcome vices such as aggression, short tempers, and lack of self-control that lead many to break criminal rules (Brym, 2019). Deaths occurring in prisons thus show a failed correctional paradigm. Walker (2020) reports a rise in self-inflicted deaths in the American reformatories, confirming the nation’s worsening problem. The researchers also note the increase in prison-based deaths resulting from inmates’ mistreatment by wardens as a rising concern proving a severe challenge in the system.

Reasons for Failure

Viewing Prisons as Punishment Centers

Investigations into the prison system depict several issues leading to the model’s failure to rehabilitate lawbreakers. The first such problem concerns the erroneous view of prisons as punishment centers instead of training hubs. According to Bagaric et al. (2018), governments often use prisons to punish offenders through force application and mistreatments. The developing belief that offenders are social misfits requiring painful handling substantially explains this matter. For example, offenders in the U.S., England, and Canada do not have similar rights as non-offenders despite being ordinary citizens engaged in criminal deeds, often mistakenly. Okun (2018) argues that many countries worldwide expose prisoners to strenuous activities such as tilling large passels of land to produce food for commercial firms. The treatment hardly appreciates offenders with special needs, leading to recurrent deaths in the fields. Stearns et al. (2019) maintain that persons dying in the hands of the police offers, mainly when serving their imprisonment term, never attract similar scrutiny as the free citizens. The scholars use the twentieth-century American mentality that breaking a criminal law amounts to forfeiting fundamental rights to explain the problem, thus proving prisons’ failure.

Prisons as Crime Training Centers

The combination of dangerous offenders with significantly harmless suspects inside prisons explains the facilities’ letdown. Giftos and Tesema (2018) refer to jails as crimes’ training and breeding zones due to the excessive teaching of young, innocent suspects into risky fellows by the dangerous inmates serving life and other longer detention terms. Giftos and Tesema (2018) point out that many non-risky lawbreakers become drug business goons after getting into U.S prisons. Murders also coach less-offensive criminals and send them on precarious crimes on their completion of jail terms. For instance, Jeffries and Chuenurah (2018) allude that many serious criminals involved in murder cases, especially domestic and property quarrels, train and use persons serving shorter incarceration periods to excommunicate the surviving witnesses. Such an act challenges the case’s proceedings and the search for justice while converting a formerly harmless fellow into a murderer. Furthermore, Giftos and Tesema (2018) confirm the turning of petty criminals into drug lords after serving a jail term, where they learn about the illegal business. Consequently, the inability to govern prisons appropriately makes them dangerous crime promotion sites.

Restorative Justice Elimination

The killing of restorative justice by prisons explains their failure. Marshall (2020) defines restorative fairness as a resolution and repair-focused correctional system that promotes social unity and cohesion by settling misunderstandings between conflicting revelries. The method often uses face-to-face gatherings, frequently with mediators, to help the offender and the offended agree and resolve their problems. The wrongdoer further bears the resulting damages, while the snubbed party receives repairs for the caused damages. Payments come as donations, sincere apologies and promise to change, or community service. Consequently, restorative justice helps delinquents experience soul healing without encountering dangerous training or experiencing grudges. The strategy works by ensuring that lawbreakers bear the liabilities of the caused harm in a loving manner that fosters a sense of belonging and genuine remorsefulness (Marshall, 2020). The victims also receive an empowerment that enables them to maintain a good relationship with the offender. Unlike the restorative justice paradigm, prisons take away lawbreakers and put them into cells where they benefit the government while leaving victims hurt. This makes societies disconnected and unsatisfied, leading to branding and integration challenges that cause recidivism.

America’s Prisons History

America posits the most prominent inmates’ population worldwide, leading to the nation’s massive number of prisons. Understanding the issues of the existing jails in the U.S. requires acknowledging America’s corrections history. Rubin (2021) reports the U.S. incarceration scheme to be significantly old, with the first prison in the land existing in the 1790s in Philadelphia. The facility mainly held debt defaulters before the government enacted the bankruptcy law in 1833 (Rubin, 2021). According to Rubin (2021), the U.S. developed its first modern prison in 1829, where the state held prisoners as “state slaves” with no personal right. However, passing the “Three Prisons Act” in 1891 officially established the federal prison structure under the justice department (Rubin, 2021). Since that time, the republic’s prisons’ growth continues to date. Over time, other significant developments are responsible for the rapid shift in the prisoners’ population and the considerable failure of the correctional structure experienced today, especially the passage of minimum imprisonment regulations.


Prisons are botched correctional systems that focus on punishing inmates instead of rehabilitating them. The above discussion covers the jail’s subject, starting from its origin, failure, and the reasons for disappointment. The inability to control recidivism and the expanding cases of deaths inside prisons prove the paradigm’s disaster. According to the above discussion, two in three ex-convicts in the U.S., England, and Wales re-offend soon after quitting jail. The problem arises from prisons’ killing of restorative justice, among other reasons. Moreover, many nations view inmates as right-less beings worth mistreatment, thus handling them as non-humans instead of rehabilitating them. As such, poor warden training, ill-resourcing, and the denial to scrutinize who is confined contribute substantially to prisons’ failure and require reforms.


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Walker, T. (2020). Suicide, self-harm and imprisoned women. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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LawBirdie. 2023. "The Prison System’s Failure and Its Key Aspects." March 31, 2023.

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LawBirdie. "The Prison System’s Failure and Its Key Aspects." March 31, 2023.