Incarceration in the U.S

4 min readOct 10, 2020


Every day people are incarcerated in the U.S for numerous reasons: At the most recent count, in 2016, 2.2 million people were languishing in prison. The amount of time that people spend in these prisons is dependent on what their crime was. For example, if you were accused of petty theft you might spend 2 or 3 years in jail, whereas if you were accused of a murder you might spend the rest of your life in jail. When people are sent to jail it is with the hope that they will become better people. We send people who commit crimes to jail to make society a safer place. However, incarceration has its ups and downs. It does make society safer because it removes dangerous people so that they can’t hurt other people. It also makes victims of crimes feel safer, and like justice has been done, and acts as a deterrent for other people thinking of committing crimes. However, there are many ways that incarceration hurts instead of helping society.

When we think of these people who are sent to jail we often look at them as criminals and sometimes even monsters. What we don’t think of is what their life in prison is like. Prisoners are often attacked, and sometimes even killed by other prisoners. The guards can’t be everywhere at once. People who are sent to jail aren’t always completely bad: often, they’ve done terrible things and are misguided, but they’re still human on the inside. Most people who are sent to jail have grown up in failing communities. Communities filled with drugs and weapons. Also, criminals, most of the time don’t get a proper education. If growing up in those places turns people into criminals then how would prison turn them into good people? If you were accused of murder and spent your entire life in jail then you wouldn’t be able to repay society for your sins. You wouldn’t be able to help, instead, your life would be a waste.

A prison is a place of abuse and cruelty. Studies show that 76% of prisoners end up in jail within five years after getting out on parole in the U.S. This proves that most prisoners become worse as they spend more time in prison. As for the other 24%, their lives are very tough as well. Getting a job with a criminal record is very tough. No good company would hire you and you would have every door shut in your face. Turning your life around is almost impossible and that is why most people turn back to crime.

Another reason incarceration should change is because of how it’s unfair to poor people. Most African Americans in the U.S can’t afford a lawyer so the government gives them one. The one that the government gives is often too busy to help the defendant so 90% of the time they tell them to ask for a plea deal.. This doesn’t only apply to African Americans but to all the people who don’t have enough money to afford a lawyer. Last but not least there’s a lot of corruption in the justice system such as police officers. Police officers often kill black people because of their race even if they didn’t commit a crime. For example, Geoge Floyd, a black who had counterfeited 20$ was murdered. He died over 20$. It’s proven that when black and Muslim people are incarcerated they suffer worse treatments than white people.

Is incarceration helping society or making it worse? That is the real question. Well, I think that the idea that criminals and people who do bad things should be punished but not incarcerated.

Instead of being removed from society, they should be helping society. Their punishment could be hours of community service or helping people. This way even if the victim is found innocent he won’t be hurt or abused, instead, he would be helping. Also, criminals would build character and become better people helping society so when they get out they most likely won’t turn to crime. This way society would still be safer. We could also build organizations that will help criminals get a job once they’re free. Incarceration should only be used as a last resort if a criminal turns back to crime. But generally, everyone should be a part of society, even criminals.