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Crime and Criminals
Here we are today moving rapidly towards the twenty first century, facing the same problems we endured for centuries in the past. Earthquakes shake the earth, floods destroy cities, and crime is more serious than ever. Some of our most serious problems are natural occurrences which we can not control. Crime and criminals are a societal plague that we can at least attempt to alter. If a crime is committed the justice system can punish the offender. That
sounds logical enough. Punishment is implemented to change the behavior patterns , and prevent recidivism. What then is the outcome when probation, parole, prison time, or community service is ineffective? The result is an unchanged criminal, and a society who bears the burden of deviant acts.
To explore the roots of this problem we can analyze the conditions under which they are incarcerated. States vary in the procedures on treatment of inmates. The topic to be debated on the basis of its effectiveness is the rights of prisoners concerning conjugal visits. On an issue so sensitive and controversial there are many different arguments and opinions feel the most basic way to divide the way society feels about conjugal visits is in three subsets which stem from legal theories. The first is the justice view. The second is the rehabilitative view. The final is a combination of the first two views called the integrated view. All of these perspectives contain very different thoughts about conjugal visits to prisoners. Before I discuss each one, there are certain statistics about forced sexual encounters in prison settings to keep in mind. According to “An anonymous survey of 1,800 men and women in a Midwestern state prison system revealed that 104 of 516 respondents (20%) had been pressured or forced at least once to have sexual contact against their will while incarcerated. Most targets rated the immediate long term effect of the incident to be negative.”(Journal of Sex Research)
Now that some statistics have been presented, let’s examine the first view on conjugal visits. The justice view is a “get tough” perspective on crime and criminals. The supporters of this view believe that prison life is simply not harsh enough. Some supporters feel that cable television, movies, video games, and stereos, should be a privilege not a punishment. They feel conjugal visits should absolutely be denied. Dangerous criminals are permitted to partake in sexual relations with spouses for a night, and spend unauthorized time with children and family members. Arguments can be made that those criminals who take
those basic privileges away from a victim as a result of a crime, should surely not be allowed to enjoy them for themselves. An area that is open to much criticism by supporters of this theory is the resulting situation conjugal visits can produce. ”Several crimes have been committed during unsupervised conjugal visits including spouses smuggling drugs and weapons into the facilities, inmates escaping, and inmates committing murder, child abuse
and domestic violence.”(Assemblywoman Paula Boland) California is one state that allows for conjugal visits for prisoners. On average $22,000 dollars per inmate is allotted for prison life activities, and perks. This justice view on criminal welfare calls for a reform in the current system. Dissatisfied citizens cry out to the legislature with plans of taking away many of the rights currently advocated in prisons. The current law in states that allow conjugal visits is most criminals except those on death row, those who have life in prison, or those who are sentenced for high risk crimes. This is procedure in most states including California. Those in support of the movement to abolish conjugal visits all together are hoping to make California a
role model or precedent state for the rest of the country.
The second view is the rehabilitative approach to handling prisoners. A strong assumption is made by those who rally for prisoners rights and rehabilitation, that conjugal visits would solve a recurring problem within our penitentiaries. This problem is rape between inmates and correctional guards. Conjugal visits which allow for sexual contact between spouses may alleviate some of the tension that may arise from abstinence during one’s term. According to the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, “Loneliness is a pervasive social problem which also contributes
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Penology, Prison sexuality, Conjugal visit, Human sexuality, Criminology, Recidivism, Prison, LGBT people in prison, Mississippi State Penitentiary
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