Good Critical Thinking On Criminal Law
What is a detainer warrant? Who is likely to be served with detainer warrants?
A detainer warrant is a warrant issued against an inmate who has a pending charge in another location. For example, a criminal has been imprisoned in another jurisdiction and has finished his sentence already, he will be released to the other custodial authority where he has committed another crime. People who are likely to be served a detainer warrant are serial killers and other criminals who move from one place to another.
2. Why do you think that there are gang problems in the prisons and jails? What strategies do prison officials use to combat their prison gang problems?
One of the reasons why there are gang problems prisons and jails is because of the need of each prisoner to group together for self-protection. Usually, prisoners of the same ethnic or racial background band together and protect each other from other racial groups. Another reason is that prison authorities seem to have lost control over the inmates.
A strategy used by prison officials to combat prison gang problems is to break up gang members and put them in distant prisons to divide and dilute their strength. Wood described further another strategy which is to subject the leaders of the gang to higher levels of surveillance and restriction than those given to other inmates.
3. Distinguish between the four different custody levels commonly used in the United States Prisons. What do you view as the importance of having these various levels?
The four custody levels used in the United States Prison are minimum, medium, close and maximum security. Inmates in minimum custody can be assigned work outside but are not allowed to be placed in community residential facility. Under the medium custody, prisoners are eligible for work within a secure perimeter in thecamp, but they are not allowed to work outside without armed supervision. Prisoners who are under close custody are within an armed perimeter and when outside the secure perimeter, they are under direct and armed supervision. Prisoners with a death sentence are under maximum custody.
These custody levels are important because each prisoner has different offenses, sentence, criminal history and behavior; thus, the level of supervision that must be given should be appropriate to their class. Furthermore, it is important that order is maintained in prisons and to protect the other inmates and the prison staff.
4. What are some of the problems associated with prison overcrowding? What are several front end and back end solutions to prison overcrowding?
Prison overcrowding may result in not being able to provide the proper healthcare services and food provision for the inmates. Rehabilitation, recreational activities and vocational training cannot be provided if the prisons are overcrowded. It also has a psychological effect on the inmates. The problem on prison overcrowding can be solved by investing in non-custodial alternatives; reducing cases in the criminal justice system by removing minor cases; designing long-term strategies to prevent and reduce crime; making access to justice more affordable; and separating cases of minors and those who are mentally not fit.
5. Who was John Howard, and how did he influence prisons of today?
John Howard was an English philanthropist and a social reformer in the fields of public health and prison reform. Howard was instrumental in the abolishment of jailer’s and discharge fees for prisoners. He pushed for reforms in the sanitary and health conditions of prisoners.
6. Compare the Auburn and Pennsylvania system. What penal innovations did each introduce?
In the Pennsylvania system, the accommodations were more spacious and the sanitation and heating system were better than the Auburn system but it is more costly because of individual cells. Prisoners under the Pennsylvania system are kept in solitary confinement, which is reflected in its architectural design. The design of the Auburn system consists of five tiers of cells which can accommodate between 150 to 250 cells. Under the Auburn system, the prisoners are classified according to security risk. Unlike the Pennsylvania system, it has congregate working and eating conditions, and it utilizes solitary confinement for inmates who commits infractions. The Auburn system adopts a military-like system.
7. Describe what you feel are some of the positives and negatives associated with the privatization of prisons.
If prisons are privatized, it will be less costly, more efficient and it can give better living conditions to the prisoners. They can also offer rehabilitation programs. On the other hand, some of the drawbacks of privatizing prisons is that the government will be too dependent on them. They may not be as transparent as public prisons; high quality service might not be given and the quality and amount of food might be reduced.
8. How do prisons and/or jails influence probation and parole violators?
The inhuman conditions of some prisons may discourage probation and parole violators from committing violations that might bring them back to jail. The violence present in some jails may have a negative effect on the violators.
9. What do you feel are some of the major issues of importance when classifying an offender and why?
Some of the major issues of importance when classifying an offender are the objectiveness of those who give the classification, the issue on availability of space in prisons and the appropriateness of the housing and supervision for the prisoners. These issues are important because the classification of offenders is the basis for their security and custody levels. Moreover, there are times when prisoners are simply classified to a certain level only because the available space for him is in a certain cell, although, he does not really belong to that group.
10. What are your thoughts about working in a maximum-security facility? What would be some of your concerns and/or fears if any, also what position would you hold and why?
One would not like to work in a maximum-security facility. A major concern in working in a maximum security facility is the safety of one’s life. Since most, if not all prisoners there have death sentences already, one will be fearful of his life because these inmates may have no more regard for his life or other people’s lives. This is also the facility that holds violent and troublesome prisoners; thus, it would be difficult to deal with them. Another concern is that the conditions in this facility might be very harsh and inhuman. One would rather work in a minimum facility as supervisor because the prisoners there are hopefully less violent and harmful.
Jones, J. L. (n.d.). Definition of terms used. Retrieved from Florida Department of Corrections: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/facilities/info/definitions.html
Penal Reform International. (n.d.). Overcrowding. Retrieved from Penal Reform International: http://www.penalreform.org/priorities/prison-conditions/overcrowding/
Siegel, L., & Worrall, J. (2015). Introduction to Criminal Justice. Boston: Cengage Learning.
Wood, G. (2014, October). How gangs took over prisons. Retrieved from The Atlantic Monthly Group: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/how-gangs-took-over-prisons/379330/