Government or selective restrictions on prisoners only while
Government agencies worldwide have the responsibility of monitoring their prisoners. Specifically, their purpose is to ensure that those in detention and incarceration are treated humanely. However, this endeavor has yet to be perfected. As time passes, the number of prisons increase, and the number of policies made that affect both current and rehabilitated prisoners increase, the way prisons operate should be updated. The establishment of the prison system inevitably led to the foundation of lessened rights for prisoners around the world. International governments have adversely affected current and rehabilitated prisoners by disengaging them from civic rights, by lacking to implement integration policies, and by failing to prevent the widespread corruption of private and public prison systems. The United States may be credited with having the “world’s most restrictive criminal disenfranchisement laws” when compared to other countries’ laws around the world (“VI. Disenfranchisement”). Often, convicted felons who serve their time are stripped of the right to vote not only while in prison, but, frequently, for life (Kousser). Across the United States, there are state felony disenfranchisement laws which prohibit, to some capacity, the civic right to vote. In many states in America, parolees no longer have the fifteenth amendment right of franchisement. Approximately, 5.85 million Americans in the United States no longer have the right of suffrage. This is an apparent contrast from other countries, most of which that have no restrictions or selective restrictions on prisoners only while the inmates are physically sentenced (“International Comparison”). Depriving detainees of the right to suffrage in no ways helps to rehabilitate them and encourage them to become functioning members of the community, but instead hinders their ability to rejoin society after sentencing. Rejoining society is a presumable after effect of sentencing. However, disenfranchisement laws have prevented, in many cases, inmates from regaining their place in society. Without the right of suffrage, one is unable to participate in government and often have no choice in government representation. In Florida, all people with felony convictions are permanently disenfranchised; in Virginia, all people with felony convictions are permanently; in Kentucky and Iowa, all people with felony convictions are permanently disenfranchised (“International Comparison”). And this is not only an issue Americans are submitted to. There are countries around the world that prevent rehabilitated parolees from voting. In these countries, postrelease restrictions are placed on parolees even after release from prison: Australia, Belgium, Chile, and, in some states, the United States (“International Comparison”). This is an issue that affects thousands of people around the globe. Without some sort of policy or focus to ensure that one sentence does not ruin the ability to partake in civic service, the rights of both rehabilitated parolees and current prisoners are jeopardized. Every country has adopted their own version of a standard of prison policy to attempt to ensure their prisoners’ civic and political rights. For instance, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, also known as the ICCPR, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; hereinafter, the Torture Convention, are two global committees with the intention of dismantling the practice of torture and other inhumane acts and guarantees prisoners’ liberties (“Human Rights Watch”). The ICCPR also includes a decree which mandates that “all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person,” (“International Covenant”). Reintegration policies allow for parolees to be reintroduced into society after serving time in prison. The lack of effective programming affects both private prisons’ duty to the public, negatively affecting both the public and prisoners (Brickner and Diaz). Policy makers are required to weigh issues and scenarios when implementing guidelines that will undoubtedly impact the lives of parolees. Policies like these act as a foundation which ensures that a lot of freedoms are not violated while inmates are incarcerated. However, reintegration policies are also – if not more – paramount in protecting rights. A well-written reintegration policy that provides affordable and available coverage is foremost to the success of parolees and prisoners. Currently, the shift from incarceration to rehabilitation is not seamless. In a recent study on prison experiences and the reintegration of male parolees done by Catherine Chesla, DNSc, RN, and FAAN, and Elizabeth Marlow, PhD, NP, it was noted that approximately sixty to seventy percent of all individuals on parole are incarcerated within three years of release from prison (Chesla and Marlow). In an effort to explain this recurrence, the team investigated and found that frequently, parolees are returned to communities where they are “re-exposed to high rates of criminal activity, substance abuse, and other parolees.” This is in addition to the environment that parolees leave after prison; the transition from leaving a “highly structured, closely monitored, non private” environment to frequenting a “socially isolated world that requires self-regulation, self-control, and independent decision-making skills” often leads to serious mistakes (Chesla and Marlow). Policies would have undoubtedly been successful in reducing the amount of parolees that end up reincarcerated because of the lack of understanding, or the inability to gain a foothold in an environment completely unlike that of a prison environment. Without reintegration policies during and after prison that equips prisoners with the tools they need to successfully and seamlessly transition into life without instant repercussions for wrong doings. Another issue that – for all intents and purposes – matches the importance of reintegration policies in securing prisoner rights is preventing the ubiquitous corruption of global prison systems. Corruption occurs in the prison system in a variety of ways and forms. In the most rudimentary way, it occurs when an officer accepts a bribe or favor in exchange for overlooking smuggled goods, weapons, or drugs to inmates (“Prison Corruption”). Recently, in Maryland, the Courts recently indicted eighteen people related to a public prison corruption case involving the “conspiracy to transmit dangerous substances, conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, and the smuggling of contraband like narcotics and cell phones (Witte). In the most complex way, it occurs when convicts are given maximum sentences for minimally mitigating crimes in order to fill a prison quota. For instance, in Florida, possession of twenty grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1000 (“Florida Laws”). Whether the corruption transpires in the courtroom leading up to the trial, or in the prison between the guards and inmates, it prevents government agencies from their responsibility to monitor their prisoners. With the knowledge of corruption’s existence, the tools necessary to eradicate it, and the determination necessary to make sure it stays that way, the prison system will run more smoothly and be more pleasant for everyone involved. “All countries, no matter what their political or cultural history, have police forces, all have courts of law, and all have prisons,” (Bouloukos et al.). This is an inexorable occurrence. However, police forces, justice systems, and prisons do not have to coincide with corruption. A significant amount of corruption involving prisoners and the prison system occurs globally. It can be seen with the use of political prisoners all over the world. These are prisoners who are arrested and detained for their political beliefs or actions (“Explainer: What Defines”). Not all countries believe or accept the criticism of their government or officials. So, in turn, they take into custody, arrest, and strip these prisoners of their freedoms while in jail. These prisoners, like most around the globe, are not allowed to vote while in prison and are also forced to abide by strict rules. Yon Goicoechea, a lawyer and political activist, was arrested in his native country of Venezuela, for years because of his work (Goicoechea). There are more stories like this: individuals taken and forced into the prison system because of protestors. In accordance with the international guidelines that are present, individual country rapporteurs are allowed to make recommendations for “who should formally be declared a political prisoner” (“Explainer: What Defines”). However, not all corruption happens as an aftereffect of activism. And a lot happens under United States soil. Corruption also happens when private prisons with companies that profit from the number of prisoners in their jail. There has been an obvious rise in the private prison industry from 2009 to 2011; the Corrections Corporation of America, or the CCA, leads the private prison industry and made revenues of $1.675 billion in 2010 alone (Brickner and Diaz). However, private prisons may not be worse than public ones. According to Prisons for Profit: Incarceration for Sale, an article written by Michael Brickner and Shakrya Diaz, “while private prisons may not be demonstrably worse than public prisons… the very nature of private prisons will lead to instability in prison facilities and further over-incarceration.” Issues like these make obvious the dilemma of freedom for the individuals and the benefit of free labor. The responsibility of adhering to the inherited freedoms of individuals is one that should not be overlooked in any event. This means that government agencies need to safeguard that every incarcerated person has the right to liberties. It is inevitable that the number of prisons will increase; it is inevitable that the justice system will grow stronger; it is inevitable that the limits of the police force will shrink; however, this does not mean the rights and freedoms of the individuals should as well. The government has the ever-growing accountability for the thousands of their citizens being punished. Commencing, there should be a fostering of civic rights while and after incarceration, an enactment of integration policies, and an aversion of the corruption of both private and public prison systems.Works Cited”VI. DISENFRANCHISEMENT IN OTHER COUNTRIES.” Disenfranchisement in Other Countries – Losing the Vote : The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, www.hrw.org/legacy/reports98/vote/usvot98o-04.htm.Bouloukos, Adam, Cohen, Debra, & Newman, Graeme. World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems Introduction. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 1993, www.bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/WFBCJINT.TXT.”Community Contribution: Prison Corruption – The Problem and Some Potential Solutions.”Columbia Law School, www.law.columbia.edu/public-integrity/community-contribution-prison-corruption-problem-and-some-potential-solutions.”Exploring: Felon Reintegration Policies.” Exploring Felon Reintegration Policies, www.americanbar.org/publications/insights_on_law_andsociety/15/fall-2015/learninggateways_felonreintegration.html.”Felony Disenfranchisement Laws (Map).” American Civil Liberties Union, www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/voter-restoration/felony-disenfranchisement-laws-mapGoicoechea, Yon. “I Am in Prison Because I Want Freedom for My Country.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Sept. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/opinion/venezuela-prison-democracy.html.”International Comparison of Felon Voting Laws – Felon Voting – ProCon.org.” International Comparison of Felon Voting Laws, ProCon, 27 May 2014, 2:28:00PM PST, felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000289.”International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner.http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx”International Human Rights Standards Governing the Treatment of Prisoners.” Humans Rights Watch Prison Project. Jan 26 2018.www.hrw.org/legacy/advocacy/prisons/stndrds.htmKousser, J. Morgan. “The Shaping of Southern Politics Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South: 1880-1910.” The Shaping of Southern Politics Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South: 1880-1910, Yale Univ. Press, 1975.West, Rolanda. Reexamining Reentry: The Policies, People, and Programs of the United States Prisoner Reintegration Systems. 2018. Print.”Working to Reform Marijuana Laws.” The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, norml.org/laws/item/florida-penalties.