Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Steven Tauber

Keywords

Germany, Incarceration, Netherlands, Prison Population, Recidivism, United States

Abstract

Throughout history the penal system has been viewed as the paramount means of dealing with criminals, though its function has transformed throughout time. It has served as a pit for detaining suspected criminals, a home for the vagrant, an institution for the insane, a dreaded place of repute, quarters for cleansing and renewal, and an establishment of cataloged charges. The trials and transformations of history have developed and shaped the institution that we recognize today. Presently, the United States prison population far exceeds that of any other country in the world. The political climate, tough on crime policies, determinate sentencing, and increasing cost of prisons have significantly increased numbers of various offenders in prisons and generated lengthy prison sentences; creating a proliferating annual prison population and a depletion of resources. As a result, this practice of essentially cataloging mass amounts of inmates appears to have resulted in a system whose practices, financial situation, depleting amount of resources and ultimately the inability achieve rehabilitation has resulted in a system accomplishing only incapacitation. However, other nations have created prison models that appear more successful, managing to lower prison populations while simultaneously lower crime rates. Comparing the United States to the Netherlands and Germany, countries that have been successful in these to lower prison populations while simultaneously lower crime rates, provides an opportunity for uncovering potential advantageous practices.

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