Locked Up in America

Locked Up in America

Amanjot Bains (12th), Reporter

As Americans, we like to do the right thing and we strive to be the best nation. But how can we be the best team out there if one in every hundred of our players is behind bars? The fact is that there are too many people locked up with no way out.

American prisons are focused too strongly on punishment and not nearly enough on rehabilitation. Prisoners are treated like there is no chance for them to become a better person. This mentality can actually be the reason they are not able to improve upon themselves.

Security and prison guards are found to treat inmates abusively even when there is no need to be rough. This violence can damage a person mentally and incite hate towards others. That anger may come out against other prisoners, prison guards, or maybe a victim the prisoner encounters after his/her release from prison.

This prison system also does not allow for the convicts to continue their educations, leaving them utterly unprepared for the outside world once they are released. By the time a person has completed a ten-year sentence, he/she might not even be able to function in society properly.

The prison story is quite different in Norway however. There prisoners are not trapped behind concrete walls and metal bars with barely usable facilities. Prisons have a bigger sense of comfort, which probably plays a big role in keeping prisoners mentally stable.

While in prison, inmates are prepared for life after prison. They are given vocational programs such as woodworking, assembly workshops, and even a recording studio.

Norway’s criminal justice system is based on a concept called “restorative justice.” The main purpose is to repair, not punish, whereas Americans want to punish first, and repair afterwards, if there is even time for that.

The results of these two different mindsets can be clearly distinguished.

America’s incarceration rate is seven hundred for every one hundred thousand people, whereas Norway’s incarceration rate is only seventy for every one hundred thousand people. America’s recidivism rate is seventy-five percent, whereas Norway’s recidivism rate is not even twenty-five percent.

Perhaps America needs to take a relook at the prison system it has. Instead of focusing so much on punishment, perhaps America should give more attention to the rehabilitation of prisoners. Thinking about the good of society as a whole could lead to lower crime and incarceration rates in the future.