Custom «Past and Present Challenges Facing Wardens and Corrections Officials of Jails and Prisons» Sample Essay
To understand challenges facing wardens and corrections officers in jails and prisons, it is important to know how the latter function. Due to a crisis like recession in the economy, there has been a high crime rate for ten years leading to overcrowding and underfunding of prisons and jails. Today’s prisoners are involved in abusing drugs, and most of violent offenders are locked up. It is also essential to understand peculiarities of the job of corrections officers today. It is made easy by the use of high-technology safety and security devices. Because corrections officers are supposed to operate this system, they need a lot of support. This paper will compare the present and past challenges facing wardens and correctional officers in jails and prisons.
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Challenges Facing Prison Wardens in the Past
Nowadays, jails and prisons face challenges that are more complex, but reflecting on the past enables to understand the problem better. To start with, gender and racial discrimination were the major issues facing officials of jails and prisons. At that time, wardens were separated at work based on their race. Besides, sexual assault remained a major challenge that threatened security and safety (Flanagan, Johnson, & Bennett, 1996). It was very hard to see African officers working together with American wardens. Women were not allowed to deal with male probationers and parolees. Michigan was one of the states affected by this condition, which started to change little by little. Secondly, according to Flanagan et al. (1996), sex and rape were another major challenge in the past. For instance, a white aged 18 years was raped by four blacks and two white prisoners maliciously in Cook County Jail. It was one of the most hushed-up challenges confronting correctional officers in the past. It was a result of the sexuality of inmates and the staff in prisons. Others engaged in homosexuality, whereby wardens and correctional officers could not distinguish an intercourse from rape (Flanagan etal., 1996). Most white prisoners claimed that blacks raped them to be released when they cooperated willingly.
Assaults and dangerous situations were another challenge in prisons and jails. In the past, tension and conflicts that led to bloodshed and riots were experienced. Prisoners used to throw food and urine at the staff and officers giving inmates food in cells. Assault was not a result of the shortage of wardens, but because the latter lacked training in psychology and criminal behavior (Henderson, Cullen, Carroll, & Feinberg, 2000).
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Challenges Facing Prison Officers in the Present
At the present time, correctional officers of jails and prisons are also exposed to a number of challenges. First and foremost, they interact with dangerous prisoners. Some of inmates exhibit challenging temperament and are cumbersome to handle. Indeed, some specialists argue that in modern times, prisoners have become more difficult to deal with. Examples of persons with such character are drug criminals who are determined to continue with their vices even behind the doors of prisons. It becomes very hard for prison officers to stop them from selling or using these drugs. An example is a case in State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy in Pennsylvania, where an officer was confronted by prisoners when he endeavored to stop drug activities. Secondly, there is a problem of the increased population of inmates. It is associated with added responsibilities for prison officers. Overcrowding behind the federal prison system bars is a problem to be solved by the BOP based on cutting down the inmate to correctional officer ratio. According to Congressional Research Services, this ratio is 1:10 (as cited in Hanser & Gomila, 2015).
In addition, it is a challenge to focus on better education, drug therapy lessons and rehabilitation. Thirdly, there is heightened racial inequality and ethnic diversity, which together make up a bigger problem. The challengee is for prison officers to handle correctional activities for prisoners with diverse backgrounds, such as members of street gangs or extremist groups. The research on prison matters indicates that finding a peaceful settlement in the case of blending a group with the majority of blacks or Hispanics involves a lot of complexity (Hanser & Gomila, 2015). Resolving the issue of racial diversity requires special training of prison officers in order to deal with drug abuse and violence among prisoners. Finally, it is widely noted by wardens of today that there is a general lack of respect and acknowledgement. This aspect is indeed very depressing for them and accounts for the increased cases of assaulted corrections officers. According to Hanser and Gomila (2015), resulting depression among prison employees is closely associated with a high mortality rate within the profession and continues to pose a high risk of suicide.
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From the discussion above, it is evident that prison or jail corrections officers worked and continue working extra hard to prevent criminal acts in the past and present, enhancing public safety. However, even with all efforts to deter crime through training and equipping officers with state-of-the-art technologies, crime has also continued to diversify. Some challenges facing officers in the past and in the present are similar, but new ones are also evident. Generally, the major common issues are racial diversity and overpopulation in prisons. Such challenges among others create a dangerous environment for prison officers to operate. To surmount these problems, the correctional department ought to realize that it works with a generation that does hold correction in high esteem. In addition, correctional agencies with which prison wardens cooperate need to dispel all misconceptions arising from the negative image painted by the mass media about this field. Achieving this goal requires them being in partnership with the criminal justice department, as well as human rights and religious groups.
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