The correctional system serves several functions in America. The system itself consists of various government agencies that are tasked with the responsibility of protecting the populace from dangerous individuals. This is achieved through a number of means, such as imprisonment and probation.
Separating the Innocent from the Criminals
The correctional system is designed to keep society at large safe by separating them from individuals who have committed crimes. This is brought about by incarcerating the convicted criminal in a jail or prison. More recently, a growing number of those who are convicted of crimes of a less serious nature are sentenced to an in house incarceration. In this form of punishment, the guilty party remains in his own home, but is confined there through means of an electronic device.
The guiding hallmark of the correctional system is the punishment of wrongdoers. Those who are found guilty of a crime may be subjected to a variety of punishments. These include parole or probation, incarceration and death. The function of punishment is largely a means of ensuring that the convicted individual pays some sort of price for their crime. The loss of freedom and self-determination are aimed at discouraging the individual from offending again.
However, punishments also serve a secondary purpose. They are meant to deter individuals from entering a life of crime. The individual who understands the severity of the potential consequences may be dissuaded from committing a crime. Nonetheless, the knowledge that an extended prison term or death sentence may be on the line does not always keep an individual from crime.
For people who are convicted in juvenile court, the main focus of the correctional system is rehabilitation. The courts feel that these young offenders deserve a second chance to become a contributing member of society. Thus, the juvenile justice system focuses heavily on rehabilitation that is designed to redirect the young offender toward education and employment while at the same time informing them about the importance of avoiding the adult correctional system.
In recent years, there has been increasing focus on the rehabilitation of adult inmates. This movement is largely based on the high rate of repeat offenders who have been punished for similar crimes in the past. Efforts at rehabilitation may include high school completion programs, access to college education and training for a vocation. Some inmates also receive psychological counseling and drug abuse treatment.