Monday, March 30, 2015

Senior Paper

Prisons in the United States Jason M.
Imagine a lineup of every single African American baby born after 2013 in the United States. They’re being super cute, crawling around just having a good time. Now imagine every third baby in that lineup crawls into a cage and gets locked in there for five years. That is the essence of the United State’s prison system. In August, 2013 a report was released to the United Nations by the Sentencing Project saying that, “one out of every three black males born today can expect to go to jail at some point during their lives.” (1Report of The Sentencing Project to the United Nations Human Rights Committee). This is frightening information. Even more frightening is the fact that this rate is only projected to go up.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Article Summary with Template

The general argument made by Wyler in her work, "The Mass Incarceration Problems in America" is that the US puts far too many people in jail. More specifically, Wyler argues that the war on drugs is to blame for the rise in prison rates. She writes, "Since 1980, the number of incarcerated citizens in the US has more than quadrupled, an unprecedented rise that can attributed to four decades of tough-on-crime oneupmanship, and a draconian war on drugs." In this passage Wyler is implying that in order to fix our prison problems, we must stop our war on drugs. In conclusion, Wyler's belief is that the US spends too much money and energy on trying to stop people from using drugs, and as a result we are putting more people in prison who shouldn't necessarily be in there.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

3 anecodotes, factoids, questions


  • Experiences of when I went into Suffolk county jail
  • Story about person who has had life altered by being in jail
  • Anecdote about person rehabiliatated from prison
  • three out of every four released inmates go back to jail in 5 years
  • Second Highest incarceration rate in the world
  • over 50% of prisoners are in for drug charges
  • What can we do to reduce the amount of people going to jail?
  • Should we follow the Scandinavian example and reduce sentence lengths and focus on rehab?
  • What is the main purpose of our prison system?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Research Questions

How could the United States improve on its current penal system?

What is the purpose of criminal law?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Focault's theory is that the penal system developed into a less humanitarian system. He talks about public torture in France, and how it was originally done in order to serve a few purposes. These included showing the public what happened if you were convicted of these crimes, and to punish the person who committed serious crimes. He also says that public punishment and execution served to display the power of the government. The reformists in France then created a more gentle punishment system, where convicts had to perform hard labour in order to help the community and to display the punishment they had to endure publicly. Focault finally claimed that prison was by far the most beneficial to society, claiming that they allowed the incarcerated to perform their duties in things such as government and other work.

This relates to my topic as while a lot of research I did seems to paint prisons as a bad institution and wants to focus on rehabilitation, Focault shows the benefits to having prisons in society.

“Let the punishment fit the crime” captures the essence of retribution. Proponents advocate just deserts, which defines justice in terms of fairness and proportionality. Retributivists aim to dispense punishment according to an offender's moral blameworthiness (as measured by the severity of crimes of which the offender was convicted). Ideally, the harshness of punishments should be proportionate to the seriousness of crimes. In reality, it is difficult to match punishments and crimes, since there is no way to objectively calibrate the moral depravity of particular crimes and/or the painfulness of specific punishments. Retribution is a backward‐looking theory of punishment. It looks to the past to determine what to do in the present.

This theory says that punishment should be equal to the crime committed. It focuses on justice for the victims.

This relates to my topic because it describes the purpose of punishment as to be retribution to the victims and society for a person's actions. This is different from what I had researched which focused on the prisoners themselves.

A popular reason for punishment is that it gets criminals off the streets and protects the public. The idea is to remove an offender from society, making it physically impossible (or at least very difficult) for him or her to commit further crimes against the public while serving a sentence. Incapacitation works as long as the offenders remain locked up. There is no question that incapacitation reduces crime rates by some unknown degree. The problem is that it is very expensive. Incapacitation carries high costs not only in terms of building and operating prisons, but also in terms of disrupting families when family members are locked up.

This again relates to my topic as it focuses on viewing criminal as dangerous and that they should be put away for the benefit of society. This contrasts many view I had seen previously calling for rehabilitation.

Monday, December 8, 2014


As I sat in the Suffolk county jail lobby I was more bored than anything. In front of me stood Sergeant Manning, a hard nosed guard with a scowl on his face. Manning surveyed the room we stood in and looked at all of the new faces. After a few moments, he gruffly said, "alright let's get started". All of the people in the lobby slowly sauntered though the reinforced iron doors. As I heard the doors shut behind me my boredom turned into nervousness. The realization dawned on me that once you entered this jail there was no leaving. The dark corridors made way into an illuminated cell block, where inmates lounged about in their 6 by 8 foot rooms barred by iron doors and a small plexiglass window being their sole connection to the outside area. I was in jail solely for a class field trip, but I couldn’t stand being in jail for four hours, let alone years. The United States prison system is a mess, and its about time we did something to fix it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

15 Books

1) The Death of Punishment: Searching for Justice among the Worst of the Worst Hardcover – November 19, 2013