Righteousness in the United States Penal System, Essay Example

Published: 2022-04-20
Righteousness in the United States Penal System, Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Penal system
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1956 words
17 min read

From the dictionary, righteousness is merely a morally upright behavior that is justifiable. This kind of behavior is mainly dominated by accepting the laid down standards of morality, justice, virtue or uprightness. Thus a morally upright person is just in every attitude, behavior, action and also every word that they speak. To this, there is a set standard and guideline in every circle uses to describe and denote the principles that constitute of righteousness. It is in this particular perspective that Christians are also called to be righteous in word and deed. The Bible outlines the main set standards that need to be followed for one to attain righteousness. In this particular case, all Christians are called to be righteous just like God is, and this is the primary requirement of being counted as one of God's children. The main steps of gaining righteousness in this particular scenario are repenting your sins, confessing them to God and putting all your trust in Jesus. Once one has repented, they are expected to walk justly and fairly in all their dealings. Still on the same the society has the unwritten standard that it terms as righteousness and behavior such as stealing, killing and the likes are considered as acts of unrighteousness that need to be dealt with in a manner that will restore justice to the offended. It is what is known as the natural law. Among other things that outline the set code of standard that entails righteousness is the constitution that has set principles that define what one should do and how they ought to behave and what ought to be done to restore fairness when it is lost. The prisons are examples of units that were established with an aim to correct this kind of behaviors and bring back justice where it has been lost (Leonetti, 2017). The primary objective of the paper is to determine the standard of righteousness of the United States penal system and its effectiveness.

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The main reasons why the United States penal system was set up in the past was to ensure justice and equality to all the state and in their dealings with outsiders. Since the time of its introduction, policymakers have been making various adjustments to the United States penal system. It is with an aim to make it work better in serving the functions it was intended to perform. The change in the set policies and regulation has resulted in the tremendous increase in the prison population and hence led to overpopulation. The central question now becomes whether the mass incarceration serves the justice that it was designed for at the time of its inception. The penal system in the United States was invented back in the 16th century with the primary purpose of confining offenders. The offenders were imprisoned until punishment is delivered. Later one 18th and the 19th century the penal rooms were developed to restrict members instead of hanging and while here, they would contemplate their wrongs and feel sorry for the same. In 2002 justice reinvestment was done to align the justice system especially to liberate the blacks and Latinos who had always experience the most substantial punishments in the penal systems. It shows that initially, the penal system has been one-sided and thus the injustices faced. In current penal systems, it is clear that it serves the purpose it was intended for to a limited extent (Ram, 2018). The high rates of recidivism among the victims are a clear indicator that the entire penal system is not in the best position it was intended to be. More importantly, the majority of the populations in the prisons are the black thus giving more insight on the inappropriateness of the justice system.

The primary values of the constitution and the bills of rights revolve around three main factors: equality, liberty, and democracy. First, equity is where resources and other elements of the nation are equitably distributed among the people of the country. In the penal system, equity is where fair judgment is offered to all the offenders without discriminating them by color, gender, educational level or any other factor. Equality is among the fundamental principles of the justice system and hence the need for it to be observed to the maximum. In this, all members should receive a fair share of the burden and benefits while adhering to the rules of the play as outlined by the law. Equality has been missing to some extent in the penal system as many offenders have ended up walking away free while their victims continue to suffer for crimes they didn't commit (Mccann, 2016). It is mainly due to the laid down policies and guidelines that do not precisely explain the boundaries of what is and what is not an offense. Therefore with the help of lawyers, the offenders have been freed, and their victims ended up without justice. The constitution also outlines that everyone has the liberty to exercise the rights that are described in the constitution, the natural law and the available set of principles. It means that even the inmate despite the fact that they have been denied the right of movement, they still have the liberty to exercise all the other rights in the constitution. It is clear that improvement needs to be done here as the penal system does not give the offenders or any other convicted fellows the liberty to exercise their rights to the full maximum as outlined in the constitution. Some of the inmates have faced factors such as sexual harassment and have also been denied the right to complain about their institutions where they are held. More so, disabled prisoners have not been put into consideration as they have exclusive rights that need to be observed. These are few among the many factors that have contributed to lack of liberty in the penal systems in the United States. The last value is the democracy, and in the United States, it merely implies that the people have the power to elect those that rule them and also have a say in the happening around the nation (Fosten, 2017). The penal systems have denied most inmates the right to democracy as they have not been given a chance to participate in elections as required by the law.

In the United States, it has been observed that most inmates are not treated fairly within the justice system. Three basic principles will constitute justice and fair treatment for all the inmates in the prisons. These three are as follows: one is that punishment should be proportional to the crime committed. Here it is then required that punishment should neither be neither excessive nor insufficient for the type of offense performed by an individual. Proportionality cannot be easily defined, but its opposite can be easily spotted. In the United States, the rising of the minimum sentencing law that causes the judge to give a particular sentence for a specific crime is the leading cause of disproportionality (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). The justice system mainly thought that by banning the cruel sentencing system they would handle disproportionate sentences. It, however, didn't solve the case expected. Many inmates in the United States have suffered the consequence of minimum sentencing law and thus have received excessive punishment than the exact crime they committed. Others by hiring efficient lawyers they have escaped the amount of penalty they would have gotten if the justice system had been followed to the maximum.

Secondly, to ensure fairness, the justice system should ensure that like cases are treated alike. The amount of punishment offered to similar offenses should be equal in all the cases. It is usually the standard of measure as instituted by Aristotle. In the United States penal system it is clear that discrimination has been a frequent occurrence and many people with similar cases have been treated with a different punishment. The primary type of discrimination that is experienced is mainly against the black. They are mostly offered heavier sentence compared to their white counterparts who commit the same crime. Racial discrimination is more of the rule rather than the norm. It is the primary factor that is used to make arrests and to pass judgment even in the courts (Boateng & Abess, 2017). It is with the central assumptions that compared to the white the blacks are most likely to commit offenses and crimes. Lastly, to ensure fairness, criminal punishments should do more good than harm. The primary factor of the penal system that has proved inefficient is the solitary confinement system. This system has for a long time been practiced, but with time the rate of recidivism has in turn increased. Also, the inmates have ended up worse than they were at first by ending up either with numerous psychological disorders and other physical injuries, sometimes even in death. It is thus an ineffective form of punishment as the rehabilitation part of it is not evident. The terrible burden of incarceration that is then transferred to the taxpayer is a factor that one needs to put into consideration.

The United States prisons have adequately served the first two purposes accordingly. The first purpose is retribution where the offenders are punished for the crime committed against the society. Every individual in the society who commits a crime must be punished for the same. The United States penal system has ensured that no crime goes unpunished and everyone is held liable for there mistakes. Every mistake is matched with a particular type of punishment and amount of damage caused. It is however not to the maximum as some few individuals who have committed crimes have walked away free. This mainly because of lack of enough evidence that is sufficient to convict them. The second objective of incapacitation is well performed as the offenders are confined to the prisons. Every offender that has been found to have committed any form of crime is taken to the remand while awaiting trial. It is to deter them from causing more harm to the society. The United States penal systems have ensured efficiently this, and any suspect in the community is confined till proven innocent. With the increasing rates of recidivism, it's difficult for one to say that deterrence has been achieved efficiently. Deterrence is supposed to prevent the individuals from committing more crimes and harm to the society. In this case, the opposite is seen as individuals, especially those that have been in solitary confinement, reoffend more often. Lastly, rehabilitation is at 50% when rated on a scale of 100% as not all the inmates are changed to better people. Very few individuals can cope with life after being released (Mcelrath, Taylor& Tran, 2016).

In conclusion, despite all the problems, the penal system has improved its operation and ensured a proper functioning society. One of the main achievements of the correctional systems is ensuring that there are law and order in the nation. The penal system has helped to reiterate the acceptable behavior of the society and thus implored members towards a good character. Also, it has ensured that there is a due process that is efficiently followed in the event of administering justice to its members as desired. More so impartial justice has been applied to all the members of the society with an aim to ensure that expert judgment is delivered. It is impartially an essential factor in helping to administer fairness among all the individuals involved within the United States.


Boateng, F. D., & Abess, G. (2017). Victims' role in the criminal justice system. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 19(4), 221-228. Doi: 10.1177/1461355717730834

Fosten, G. K. (2017). Profit-seeking motives and racist policy in tennessee's criminal justice system: A triangulative analysis. Journal of Black Studies, 48(8), 791-815.

Leonetti, C. (2017)...

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