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Sentencing is an imposition of punishments on offenders following convictions for criminal offences. Judges impose sentences, which may involve incarceration in a jail or prison, or they may involve placement in various community correction facilities. Some of more important goals of punishment are: to promote respect for the law, to reflect seriousness of the offence, to protect the public from the convicted offender, to deter the offender from future criminal conduct and to provide the offender with educational or vocational training, or other rehabilitative assistance. This essay finds out whether inmates should be separated or not.
It is very unjust as well as impolitic to confine the suspected person who is waiting for trial in the same room with convicts. And among the suspected even, there should be a separation between persons who are known to be of vicious character, and those who have neither been convicted, nor have given proofs of a depraved heart. Also, there should be a separation founded on the nature and different degrees of the committed crimes. To place a man, who, in the sudden heat of passion, has been guilty of an assault, in the same place thieves, is shocking to common sense as well as to humanity. It is also plain, that the moral benefits of confinement cannot be obtained without such seclusion, as will give the offender an opportunity for reflection. At night, therefore, the offenders should be solitary (Sparks et al, 321).
Separation assists in determining the custody level of the offender in prison. A clear priority and objective of separation or classification is placing the prisoners in an appropriate level of custody, according to their degree of risk or dangerousness towards others and even to themselves. Inappropriate placements mean placing certain, less serious prisoners in prison space which should be occupied by other, more serious prisoners. The higher the level of custody, the more costly the custody is. For example, if numerous low risk prisoners are placed in maximum-security jails, this would be very expensive for the jurisdictions (Champion, 9). Also, separation may be used for offender management and deterrence relative to prison rules and requirements. One of the major reasons why some prisoners receive a maximum security classification is because they have evidenced few coping skills with others. They may be violence-prone or easily moved towards aggressive acts against others. Some prisons have attempted to change such violent behaviors through the creation of special programs aimed at improving prisoners’ anger management (Champion, 914-15).
While in prisons, prisoners may be targeted for particular services to meet their needs. In this case, divisions in prisons are important. Some prisoners experience more adjustment problems compared with other prisoners. Attempts to identify and track such prisoners most likely to pose very serious adjustment programs will be successful if there is appropriate separation. For example, a survey of corrections directors in United States and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, together with the opinions obtained from various criminal justice scholars has indicated a strong nationwide support for at least three types of operated prison facilities: a medical facility capable of handling the aged and developmentally disabled, a high security facility for prisoners who are assaultive or with high risks of escape and a protective facility for some prisoners. Former law enforcement officers convicted of crimes or witnesses who have testified against organized crime in exchange for lesser sentences may be at less risk if they are confined separately from other prisoners who might endanger them (Champion, 11).
On the other hand a separate cellular system breaks down the mental and prisoners’ bodily health-that it makes the mind to be persistently intimidating over its own guilt-constantly influencing the prisoner to contemplate the degradation of his or her position and seeking to impress upon him or her that his or her crimes have caused him or her to be excluded from the whole society; and that with the better class of offenders, especially the ones whose ties of kindred are strong, it produces not only a continued sorrow at being cut off from other people, and indeed everyone but prison officers, but such insatiate yearning to get back to all that dearly held, that the punishment becomes more that even the utterly callous natures are not able to withstand; so that, instead of reforming, it utterly overwhelms and destroys. With more vacant intellects and hardened hearths, however, it serves to make the offenders even more unthinking and unfeeling. In a nutshell, separation or division cages people up as if they were some dangerous beasts or opponents of the system (Mayhew & Binny, 102-103).
Despite the negative effects of prisoners’ separation such as discriminations and intimidation, prisoners should be put in different jails in accordance with the degree of their offences as well as their specific needs. For instance, some prisoners or offenders may require relatively little supervision, while other prisoners must be confined in isolated places and monitored very closely. For instance, the suicide potential among some prisoners is greater than it is for other prisoners. Some prisoners suffer from different types of mental problems and require be treated or managed differently. Other prisoners may be considered violence-prone, potential escapees, and likely to present excessive disciplinary problems. Such decisions should be influenced by various classification schemes that are developed by correctional or prison staffs.
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