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Alejandra Villanueva

Dec. 1 2015
Ms. Joy
Final Paper Assignment Final Draft
Many people would think the US prison system is fair, or is doing the right thing for
Americas citizens. However, should a person that stole a pair of socks be locked up for the same
amount of time as someone who committed a murdered? Does it make sense that even after
prison, prisoners are haunted by the one mistake they made? The worlds biggest struggle is
justice. This is why the US prison system is not a practical solution for criminals. The US prison
system is nothing more than a cycle that doesnt prepare criminals for life after incarceration,
bias towards a certain race and community of people, and contains no justice in the 3 strikes law.

The US prison system is not a practical solution because prisoners are not being prepared
for life after incarceration. Criminals are being taught that the best way to survive in prison is
through violence and power. They are treated like the criminals they are, leading them to
believe they are no longer human beings but simply a criminal. Inmates should be given trust
and have at least a small sense of humanity. According to the article What We Learned From
German Prisons from The New York Time, prisoners are given the freedom to call home
whenever they wish, wear normal clothes, and are able to have overnight visits with family and
friends. This system was created to prepare prisoners for responsibility after incarceration, and
lead a crime free life. If an inmate were to end up back in prison, staff members would ask what
they shouldve done better. This helps stop the cycle by giving criminals a better life afterwards
and not go back into prison. Not only is it the system that helps the german prisons have such a
successful facility, but it is also the Corrections Officers. During a TED talk, Ismael Nazario, a

young man who was incarcerated most of his teenage years, faced a relationship between an
inmate and a CO in a US prison facility . The CO being the powerful one and the inmate being
powerless. Ismael was walking back to his cell when a CO simply hits him in the chest because
he had gotten into a fight with another inmate. Ismael does nothing, knowing that this is their
house and he has no power or way of defense whatsoever. The COs in prisons abuse the power
they are given and are only taken into months of training. However, in Germany the process of
hiring a CO is demanding. Only about 10% of the applied COs will get accepted into a two-year
training program. According to the article, there has been no recorded assaults between and
inmate and a CO from 2013 to 2014. If we tell the inmates they are powerless, they will believe
it. If we tell them they have no voice, they will believe it. If we tell them their whole life is
ruined because of one simple mistake, they will believe it. I believe we tend to forget that the
inmates are also humans, and their rights should be kept and never abused. We treat the inmates
like what they are labeled as, criminals. If we treat the inmates with violence, trust issues, and
no access to learning about life after incarceration, this cycle will never stop. Like Ismael
Nazario mentioned, These C.O.s play a big factor in these young people's lives for x amount of
time until a disposition is reached on their case. So why not try to mentor these young people
while they're there? Why not try to give them some type of insight to make a change, so once
they re-enter back into society, they're doing something positive?

As I mentioned before, the system is bias towards a creatin race and community of
people. According to School to Prison Pipeline article, African American students are most
likely to report discrimination in disciplinary procedure. Students in zero tolerance schools suffer
through having rules and procedure that allow officials tremendous discretion to suspend and
expel student for minor crimes. Officials are only around a certain kind of neighborhood, that

being the community full of different types of cultures. African American and Mexican students
are labeled to have possessions of drugs and weapons, whereas most of it is in the rich white
neighborhoods. Due to the state laws whom dont define dangerous weapons, many of the kids
in the community are expelled from carrying nails clippers and scissors. Officers take more
percussion these areas and constantly stop and check citizens, thus giving young kids the mindset
that they are expected to carry drugs and join gangs, putting them in prison. According to the
article, the school to prison pipeline is fueled by poverty and segregation, and underfunded
education system pressured by high stakes testing and zero tolerance policies, media
misrepresentation of youth crime and increasingly draconian justice system. This system is a
threat to our future, given the fact that officers incarcerate young african american men over
small crimes. If we continue this cycle, the children will begin to realize this is what they are
labeled as and have no future. By doing so communities lose potential talents students hold and
any source of hope to get out of the neighbourhood.
The 3 strikes law is what I believe the definition of injustice. This law doesnt help US
citizens be safe whatsoever. This law is taken to extremes and ruins peoples lives and their
families. The people in jail because of it suffer in prison, like a homeless victim called Lester
Wallace. Lester Wallace had 2 previous non violent burglaries, he tried to steal a car, sentencing
him to 25 years to life. In prison he was sexually and physically abused numerous times, he had
to switch prison facilities, suffered seizures, and back problems. Even after a few months after
the law was reformed, the state still did not allow him to be released. Many innocent non violent
people are in jail because of the three strikes law. Take Curtis Wilkerson for example, a 33 year
old african american man who was sentenced to 25 years to life for stealing a pair of $2 socks
from a store that was going out of business. The state fined him $2,500, according to the Cruel

and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws article, he works that off by
putting in four to five hours a day in the prison cafeteria, for which he gets paid $20 a month, of
which the state takes $11 The three strikes law not only incarcerated him, but also fined him,
and put it on his criminal record, thus not allowing him to get a job, and not be able to finish
paying off his debt. The US system is very ironic when it comes to such things, expecting for an
inmate to pay the debt, when they have a criminal record and arent able to get a job. Then the
only way for possible money is to get back into the crime world, ending up back in prison. The
cycle then continues and the US prison system doesnt get better.

I know you may believe the system is doing good for the society by keeping harmful
criminals inside, which I agree. I am also a human being who would be terrified if I got pointed a
gun at my face. However I am also a human being who believes in human rights. The US prison
system is taking innocent people and making them suffer for small crimes. Not only that, but is
also racist towards certain people and allows other criminals to roam free. For example, in the
crime of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, Adam Lanza was described as a genius
who was simply bullied and grew up in isolation and needed friends, therefore growing his
insanity to murder people. However, in the Ferguson crime, Michael Brown was described as a
young man who was always in gangs and constantly did drugs and never mentioned his 4.0 GPA
and attending college in the fall. This is the two points of views that are mostly to be shown at
trial, therefore the jury deciding the black man is guilty whereas the white would have to have a
reason for committing the crime. The US system also haunts inmates even after being released. I
know from a personal experience the struggle of trying a job with a criminal record. Criminals
are expected to pay off debts, when they are punished with a criminal record.

The US prison needs to be refined and become a more productive system. Just like the
German prison, we should teach our criminals about life after incarceration and about the things
to do. Criminals should be given a second chance depending on their crime.This system is not
only unfair, but it is racist, contains unfair laws, and doesnt prepare criminals for what is to
come after prison. At the end of the day we are human beings and we make mistakes, we have
the ability to either learn from them or make them again. I say that if we work together we can
work for a better future where prison wont even be an option.

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Work Cited
Turner, Nicholas, and Jeremy Travis. "What We Learned From German Prisons." The New York
Times. The New York Times, 06 Aug. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

"Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws." Rolling Stone. 27 Mar.
2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

"What I Learned as a Kid in Jail." Ismael Nazario:. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.