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Neil Condon CRJS 600 Dr Richeson Nonviolent Offenders - Is Incarceration the Answer Its really clear that the most effective way to turn a nonviolent person into a violent one is to send them to prison says Harvard University criminologist James Gilligan The American prison system takes nonviolent offenders and makes them live side-by-side with hardened killers The very nature of prison no matter people view it produces an environment that is inevitably harmful to its residents America locks up five times more of its population than any other nation in the world Due to prison overcrowding prisoners are currently sleeping on floors in tents in converted broom closets and gymnasiums or even in double or triple bunks in cells which were designed for one inmate Why is this happening The US Judicial System has become so succumbed to the ideal that Imprisonment is the most visibly form of punishment The current structure of this system is failing terribly To take people strip them of their possessions and privacy expose them to violence on a daily basis restrict their quality of life to a 5x7ft cell and deprive them of any meaning to live This scenario is a standard form of punishment for violent offenders although not suitable for nonviolent offenders Today almost 70 of all prisoners are serving time for nonviolent offenses US States are spending an average of 100 million per year on new prisons and all US taxpayers front the bill for a system that is not working Carson Why should we force taxpayers to pay to keep nonviolent criminals sitting in prison cells where they become bitter aggressive and more likely to repeat their offenses when released The answer is we shouldnt there are more reliable forms of punishment available and rehabilitation and restitution are two alternatives I firmly believe are most effective than incarceration Nonviolent criminals should be punished differently This is because nonviolent criminals do not learn
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