Is Jail Really a Punishment?

When a child does something wrong, the child would usually be punished. That rule follows into adulthood. When a person commits a crime, punishment should take place. Lenient jail sentencing is promoting offenders to commit more crimes and with luxurious prison lifestyles, offenders may not consider the consequences resulting in a higher crime rate and an increase in recidivism.

A victim would think the criminal is spending his jail time staring at the wall and thinking about the crime he committed. The criminal is unfortunately laying in a comfortable bed with a TV and proper health care along with only a couple months to a year in this prison. Allowing criminals better lifestyles in prison will convince them to commit more crimes to continue living in a place better than their own.

Prisons all around the world are giving criminals another chance at life while in jail. In New Zealand, the Otago Corrections Facility allows inmates their own cells, comfortable beds, a television, and learning skills for when they leave prison. Criminals go to jail to be punished for their crimes but instead, they are being rewarded. In Leoben Austria, criminals who commit nonviolent crimes such as burglary, are given decent treatment by giving them their own cell, private bathroom, a kitchenette, a television, and access to sport courts.  No matter the crime, punishment needs to be put in place.

With allowing these luxurious prison rules, crime rate will increase especially if the criminal does not have a healthy lifestyle outside of prison. In September of 1997, a man killed a woman’s husband and he only received one year in prison. After being released, he started a bar fight which led to him shooting and killing another individual. A man defending his friend was sentenced to 8 ½ years while the criminal received less. “In 1983, Dean Hernandez murdered my twin sister Kathy Durman in Port Arthur Texas, with use of a handgun.” He is serving a life sentence but this was not his first offense. In 1976, he was sentenced to 10 years in the Texas State Prison for the attempted murder of another former girlfriend. This offense took place in Groves, Texas.” This man is now spending the time he deserves behind bars.

“A Johnson City man will spend two months in jail over the next four years as part of his sentence for a drunken beating he inflicted on his young stepsons three years ago... The injuries included a bootprint on his back and a handprint on his side...was left bruised and with bloody scrapes and scratches on his face.” The young boy was beaten and unable to defend himself against his drunken father. Allowing a short amount of time in jail as a punishment for a serious crime may cause this man to commit the crime again.

There has been controversy between how lenient rules are when an offender is being convicted. Expectations for jail sentencing would be the greater the crime the greater the punishment but this would be an assumption, not reality. A man was watching his girlfriend’s daughter when something tragic had happened. “...after 2-year-old Alicia Smith was taken to the hospital with bruising on her eye, cheek, chest, back, buttocks and thigh, “grid-shaped” abrasions close to her genitals, scalp swelling, nine fractured ribs and internal injuries.” Doctors had said this child could have died if she was not taken to the hospital. He was only sentenced 10 years.

The way a criminal will behave once they leave prison will depend on the standards in prison itself. If rules given in jail are strict, the criminals may not want to experience the jail life again. But, allowing more freedom in a cell may allow a greater urge to commit another crime. With short sentencing, criminals will be back on the street committing more crimes than before. They know what will be expected once they are in jail and once released, the urge to commit again will be increased knowing a better life awaits behind bars rather than the outside world. It is unfair to the people and justice is not being served with these prison system orders.

I am a student at Greater Johnstown High School. My career goal is to be a photojournalist and to travel the world while capturing the sights I see.

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