The United States of America is known to have one of the highest populations of felons within bars and critics have time and again mentioned that the countrys criminal justice system is bent on taking criminals to prison as opposed to considering alternative means of punishing minor offenses. It is for such reasons that writers like Travis Pratt have made a point of highlighting the weaknesses of the criminal justice system, this he does in his book called Addicted to Incarceration. This paper is going to give insights on what the book by Travis Pratt, Addicted to Incarceration is all about. A chapter-based and overall report will also be provided
Addicted to Incarceration, an Overview
The broad purpose of the book Addicted to Incarceration is to give credit and for the most part, criticize the corrections policy and the politics of misinformation in the United States of America. Pratts aim as evident in his book is to make an exposition of the scope of the problem on incarceration. Also, he seeks to document the nature of all the political discussions revolving around criminal justice policy at large and policies to do with corrections. Conceivably, he openly talks about the role of misinformation on the manner in which the United States has ended up with its present state of incarceration. In a much better way, the central thesis of the publication is that the United States has become addicted to incarceration, and that this manner of addiction has been catapulted by acknowledged by policies inspired by inappropriate information regarding the challenges brought about by crime in the United States, the perceptions of American citizens with respect to punishment and crime, and the efficacy of imprisonment as a way of socially controlling and handling accused persons. Travis Pratt also gives a presentation of scientific evidence that pertains to social costs and gender, social costs, racial, and ethnic issues as well as recommendations for the future. In a nutshell, this well-researched publication is easy to read and understand, utilizes occasional humor and real life examples to help maintain interest, and will probably make all its readers raise moral and ethical questions regarding the utilization of imprisonment as a valuable policy of crime control (Pratt, 2009).
Chapter One: Introduction
The first chapter of Travis Pratts book comprises the introductory section. The author talks about the present problem of incarceration in the United States and why reducing the crowding in United States prisons are important. In addition to that, the author says that the high prison population in the country is indicative of a gap in the criminal justice system. The author mentions that in as much as the United States has realized the title of world leader in some areas all through the course of the countrys history (Pratt, 2008). Pratt offers a concise yet exceptional scholarly account of one such area, defining well the United States addiction to incarceration, the country locks in offenders behind bars than any other country. The author offers an outstanding impression of the history of imprisonment and the background within which it prevails in the United States of America, including flawed assumptions that underlie the capability of such laws to limit the rates of crime.
Chapter Two: The Politics of Punishment in the United States
Despite the substantial theoretical interest, very little is known about the political determinants of punitiveness and punishment in American correctional facilities. This chapter of the book makes use of a pooled time-series approach to successfully fill this gap through an examination of political and other determinants of imprisoning rates at the state level (Pratt, 2008). The author mentions that it is kind of interesting that some Americans think the presence of Republican elected politicians is utilized to make an assessment of the strength of the law and-order political party.
Some ethnic threat theories make suggestions that, imprisonments will be more rampant in areas where there are more blacks and Hispanics, whereas theories of economic threats suggest that imprisoned populations will be bigger in places where economic stratification is most prominent (Pratt, 2009). Right after controlling for religious fundamentalism, social disorganization, political conservatism, and violent crimes, the outcome showcases that the strength of statesmen and women and threats revolving around minorities culminate to high rates of imprisonment (Pratt, 2008). Statistical interactions give support to projections that the above mentioned relationships become better defined after more stress is placed on matters of law and order. Travis Pratts following findings in the publication make a confirmation that the above mentioned relationships are historically contingent.
Chapter Three: Misinformation about the Crime Problem
A lot of research is yet to be on matters revolving around crime in the United States of America. The criminal justice system is too much focused on making arrests using the police and taking offenders to prison. No research is conducted to find out the real reason why offenders behave the way they do (Pratt, 2008). There is no law that makes it mandatory for police officers to live in areas they patrol, perhaps these law enforcement officers would be in a better position to handle crime if they live in the communities involved. The criminal justice system is also lacking in the part that the proportions of non-White populations in the criminal justice is high while that of Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans among others is low. More representation would mean that the community will be more accepting of the criminal justice system. Another issue that would be more befitting to the criminal justice system is 100% witness protection, and this is because, at most times, people keep information to themselves if they witness an injustice but are not very sure the police would be able to keep them from criminals (Pratt, 2009).
Chapter Four: Misinformation about Public Opinion
The criminal justice system within the United States is not very much well versed with public opinion about matters of correction. Some factions of the population in the United States, lobby groups, interest groups, politicians, and human activists may not be very much supportive of popular laws in the states. Perhaps it would be a better approach if the criminal justice system would be more embracing to public opinion when it comes to matters of corrections and prison reform rather than making decisions unilaterally (Pratt, 2008). Getting more information from the public can be realized through questionnaires and popular vote, the public will let the departments of criminal justice and correction the states to know whether the measures applied are very much punitive or borderline punitive (Pratt, 2008). By falling in line with the needs of the public, more corporations will be realized between law enforcement officers and the criminal justice system at large minus the presence of a snitch mentality. A snitch mentality is bound to keep people within a community to be quiet and unwilling to report crimes witnessed for fear of being targeted by offenders. Communities that bear such a mentality have an embedded assumption that the police will not be able to deliver when it comes to offering witness protection.
Chapter Five: Misinformation about Prisons and Crime Control
In this chapter, the author talks about the need for a paradigm shift when it comes to dealing with criminals. In the event that an offender is guilty of a minor offense, the author says that there is no need for rushing into taking such a person to jail in an attempt to find a solution. The author is baffled as to why a psychological approach is not adopted. In addition to that, it is a wonder why community service or house arrest has not been implemented to discourage potential offenders and ex-felons from committing a crime (Pratt, 2008).
Travis Pratt punches holes in Americas central theory that supports incarceration. The theory in question supports imprisonment, claiming that it discourages potential offenders from first-time offenses and ex-felons and deters them from behavior that is otherwise criminal. All the same, data has proven harder to make an analysis on, and arriving at conclusions is at times complicated (Pratt, 2008). The author also mentions that The National Academy of Sciences report posited that incarceration cannot be looked like a policy variable per se, to a certain extent, it is the result of policies that affect people sentenced to correctional facilities and for how long. Travis Pratt made an assumption that any manner of deterrent outcomes found from increased imprisonment is modest at best. Chapter Five makes a highlight that for a deterrent outcome to exist in full, sanctions need celerity of punishment, severity, and certainty (Pratt, 2009). So far, the current criminal justice system emphasizes too much on the severity of punishment, an approach that does not correct the innate criminal that resides within felons and ex-felons.
Prisons are a punitive measure of handling crime and although necessary when it comes to the detainment of criminals, measures should be taken to obtain clear-cut differences between heinous crimes and minor crimes. The moment the criminal justice system defines these types of crimes and finds less punitive solutions for minor crimes, the population in American prisons will decrease considerably.
Chapter Six: The Social Costs of Incarceration
About one in a hundred and ten adults is locked behind bars in local jail or prison in the United States of America, and this sort of situation is coercing politicians and interest groups across the divide to campaign for reform. The effects of mass incarceration can be classified into economic, social, and criminal outcomes of the present system. According to Travis Pratt, a major social outcome of social incarceration is the making of partial citizens. Partial citizens can also be referred to as pseudo-citizens, and it is a term that defines the many challenges ex-felons go through whenever they are released from prison (Pratt, 2008).
The challenges include finding jobs, becoming eligible for student loans, and renewing their drivers licenses. All the same, this section of the book gives highlights on the political disenfranchisement of ex-prisoners as a major effect on the society. Once prisoners are released from prison, they are discriminated against by family members and friends, such manner of discrimination makes it hard for any of these felons to realize a healthy and fulfilling life. In as much as the rate of crime in the United States have fallen 45% ever since 1990, the rate of imprisonment is now at a historically unprecedented level, jumping 222% from 1980 to 2012. Travis says that an African American man who never graduated from high school has a 70% likelihood of being incarcerated by the time he is in his mid-30s. On the other hand, a white man with the same level of education has a 15% chance of being incarcerated. The author bears the same concern with the rest of Americans since he claims the country imprisons at a rate that is six times more in comparison with its peer nations, consisting of the European Union, Mexico, Japan, and Israel.
Travis Pratt advocates for the United States Department of Justice to make rules which would give the government and Congress wider latitudes to broaden clemency or decrease sentences for drug-related felons that are not representative of a threat to public safety. Moreover, the United States Sentencing Commission ought to vote to trim down sentencing guidelines for some n...
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