The US Sentencing and Correctional System

This paper will focus on studying the sentencing and correctional system in the United States of America. It will center on different models of punishment and possible correctional alternatives. The paper will pay specific attention to contemporary issues in the correctional system. The emphasis will be made on the organization and management of correctional institutions, both federal and state. Finally, the paper will provide an alternative for incarcerating inmates for drug offenses giving reasons for cost-effectiveness.

Thinking outside the box while being realistic is a gift. Such talented people are highly valued, especially when they work as Private Prison Design Specialists for Corrections Corporation of America. This time, the assignment is to investigate the issues of the American correctional system, especially models of punishment and correctional alternatives.

The primary focus in sentencing is made on the ability to rehabilitate and reintegrate a criminal into society. Because of this feature, there are several sentencing (punishment) models. First of all, there is a punitive model that involves punishment but does not imply restitution. The second model is non-punitive, and it is a restorative option because of excluding punishment. Finally, there is a comprehensive model that is a mixture of both approaches mentioned above (London, 2011). Confinement, i.e. the punitive model of sentencing, is not always the best decision. That is why there are several alternatives to imprisonment in the correctional system such as intermediate sanctions, intensive supervision, community service, and home detention. All these methods have a similar advantage – they are less restrictive than a conventional prison. However, for the same reason, they are less effective in reducing the crime rate in a community (Latessa & Smith, 2015).

Nowadays, the correctional system faces several issues. First of all, it is the challenge of overcrowded prisons (Wilson, 2012). It is the reason for developing the alternatives to confinement mentioned above. The second problem is the condition of the inmates’ mental health. This matter of concern has two sides. On one hand, staying in a solitary confinement cell and being deprived of freedom add to inmates’ health deterioration. On the other hand, there are numerous instances of punishing mentally ill people who have committed minor crimes. It, again, returns us to the problem of prison overcrowding and the need to enhance alternatives to sentencing. Moreover, there is a problem of radicalization of inmates. It derives from imprisoning terrorists, members of various street and drug gangs, cartels, etc. leading as well to the behavioral issue of the correctional system (Klugiewicz, 2010). Finally, there is a gender challenge. It refers not to the operation of prisons for women but to the fact of admitting women to work for correctional institutions. This issue is a foundation of ethical concerns (Mays & Winfree, 2014).

Because the prisons are overcrowded and face many other challenges, it is vital to promote alternatives to corrections. For example, when it comes to drug offenses, intensive supervision might be a better option than incarceration. The motivation for such statement is that it is more cost-effective because the state could redirect the money spent on the prisoner welfare to enhancing the correctional system or preventing crimes. Moreover, this alternative is beneficial for decreasing the crime rate because supervising a criminal could help reveal big drug groupings.

Nowadays, in the United States, correctional system is decentralized. It means that the federal government, the state authorities, and each separate state, as well as counties or cities, operate an individual correctional system (Carlson, 2015). On one hand, it is beneficial to local authorities because they gain more power. On the other hand, it is a source of additional expenditures on maintaining the system and contributes to disarray in services and programs because prisons rarely cooperate.


Carlson, P. M. (2015). Prison and jail administration: Practice and theory. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Klugiewicz, G. T. (2010). Top 10 correctional issues for 2011. Web.

Latessa, E. J., & Smith, P. (2015). Correction in the community. (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

London, R. D. (2011). Crime, punishment, and restorative justice: A framework for restoring trust. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Mays, L. G., & Winfree, T. L. (2014). Essentials of corrections. (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Wilson, R. (2012). The growing problem of the prison system. Web.

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DemoEssays. "The US Sentencing and Correctional System." April 12, 2022.