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Past And Present Challenges Facing Wardens Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1492 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Wardens are responsible for the organization and operation of prisons. To accomplish this, prison wardens are usually assisted by several deputy wardens, typically one each for management, custody, industry, and treatment programs. One of the main goals for them is to promote public safety and to insure the safety of inmates and staff inside. However, wardens also tend to face outward in their daily duties, dealing with politicians, administrators in the central office of corrections, the media, and interest groups (Allen, Latessa, Ponde, 2010). A complex job, wardens are trained both as correctional officers and administrators. George A. Neotti is the warden at Donovan State Prison in San Diego, California. He is responsible for 4,400 inmates and 1,700 staff. Mr. Neotti claims that disciplining employees and making them do what must be done to enforce the prison’s rules is one of the biggest challenges in his position. Another challenge is budget cuts. Since we all know prisons are paid with the public funds, and Neotti has to use these funds appropriately and responsibly to operate the prison. Unfortunately because of budget cuts, many prison programs have been significantly decreased or have totally disappeared. Among these are substance abuse programs, educational programs, and vocational programs. Neotti has faced in the past and is currently facing many lawsuits against him by inmates, he challenges threats among inmates and employees at the prison. He also deals with contraband such as drugs and cell phones. He said that “heroin, cocaine, meth contraband is often smuggled in by mail or visitors, volunteers or even employees, often through the rectum.” This really jeopardizes the employees’ safety, for prisons can be quite violent.

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Another big and complicated challenge is the overcrowding of prisons. Even though many new prisons have been built throughout the nation during the past 20 years to accommodate the growing number of inmates, prison overcrowding is still very much a reality in many jurisdictions. Some of the most crowded prisons are those in federal system, which recently stood at 34% over capacity (Schmalleger, 2010). To fix this problem, lawmakers across the nation are trying to save money with a drastic potentially dangerous budget-cutting proposal – releasing tens of thousands of convicts from prison. Among these inmates include drug addicts, thieves, and even violent criminals (Schamalleger, 2010). If officials acknowledge that the idea carries risks, then why are they doing this? Do they not have any other choice? They must find a better way to manage the overcrowding in prisons instead of just releasing them. The appropriate sentence or punishment has to be equally proportionate with the crime committed, but if punishment is the intentional infliction of pain on a person that is convicted of a crime, what is the appropriate punishment for a criminal behavior? There are several types of punishment in criminal law. A guilty defendant is punished by either period of incarceration in a jail or prison, a fine paid to the government, or in exceptional cases, life in prison or even death penalty. Crimes are divided into two broad classes: Felonies that have a maximum possible sentence of more than one year incarceration, and Misdemeanors that have a maximum possible sentence of less than one year incarceration. Defendant can be found guilty or not guilty. The purpose of in criminal punishment has divided into two schools that have battled for five centuries – Retribution and Prevention (Samaha, 2008). Wardens and administrators will continue to face many challenges among jails and prisons until they find a solution for a better life among inmates, employees and volunteers members.

Correctional Officers

In the past, staff members were called guards. Today, if we call correctional officers guards, it is more likely to offend them. According to Allen at al. (2010) Correctional Officers represent women and men charged with control, movement management, and observation of the inmates in jails and prisons of America, they also found that by 2007, more than 250,000 uniformed custody staff members were working in state, federal, and local adult prisons in America. Harold Lilly, who worked for the North Carolina Department of correction from 1950-1986, stated that in his early career, prisoners used to work on the roads, ate and slept, and that was it. There was no classification, no rehabilitation; there was a state law that every prisoner must work preferably on the highways and that’s what they did. He also mentioned that today’s correctional facilities are complex because among other things they provide substance abuse treatment, medical services, job training, education and other rehabilitative programs. He concluded that in this complex environment, correctional officers who play a critical role in the safe and secure operation of today’s correctional facilities have replaced the old “guards”. In the past, correctional officers did little documentation. For example, if they locked and inmate up, they reported it verbally to the captain on duty. They did not write reports. Harold (2005) said that “in old days, you had what you referred to as a guidebook.” Today correctional officers must follow standards, policies and bureaucratic regulations and obligations for corrections staff members. If correctional officers use force today, they have to do an official report with videotapes and corroborating evidence along with it. The training programs are more drastic than before even that this career does not require a degree, correctional instructors should explain the mission of the training, which is to protect the state from further inmate litigation, and they should inform their students that future responsibility for courtroom resolutions rests with corrections personnel (Allen at el. 2010). In my opinion Correctional Officers must obtain a higher education than just high school or a GED. Having a degree in sociology or criminal justice helps to obtain positive values and understand the meaning of this position leading to accomplish the goal, but the state must increase the salary to encourage people to pursue this career but because the cost for training programs are very expensive, and also correctional officers with a lack of education or knowledge tend to resign this position within a year or two, this salary will continue to be very low.

Correctional officers are the ones that interact with inmates 24 hours a day, and an increase of violence, due in part to a rise in prison gangs, put many officers in the trenches or our nation’s prisons; prison violence, crime, and drug trafficking are ways of life for most inmates in high-custody prisons (Allen at el. 2010). According to Beck T. (2005) in the old days, a guard told a prisoner what he wanted him to do and that was that. Today, a correctional officer must be able to understand and enforce a complex system of rules and regulations. Beck also stated that in the old days, a guard might inflict corporal punishment if an inmate disobeyed an order. Today, an officer must be able to diffuse potentially dangerous situations without the use of force. Beck concluded that in the old days, guards orally reported the day’s happenings to the next shift. Today, an officer must document significant incidents in a specialized computer database.

Punishments and Remedies

To make punishment efficacious, two things are necessary. First, they must never be disproportioned to the offense. And second, they must be certain. The differences between civil law and criminal laws are as follow:

Criminal Law:

Those found guilty of violating the criminal law are punished. Retribution: the oldest justification for punishment is to satisfy people’s need for retribution that is an act of moral vengeance by which society makes the offender suffer as much as the suffering caused by the crime.

Prevention: looks forward and inflicts pain to prevent future crimes. There are four kinds of prevention.

General Deterrence: a goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to prevent others from committing crimes similar to the one for which a particular offender is being sentenced by making an example of the person sentenced.

Special Deterrence: a goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to inhibit criminal behavior through the fear of punishment.

Incapacitation: prevents convicted criminals from committing future crimes by locking them up, or more rarely, by altering them surgically or executing them.

Rehabilitation: the attempt to reform a criminal offender. Rehabilitation Seeks to bring about fundamental changes in offenders and their behavior (Schmalleger, 2010).


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