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An urgent need for prison reforms: California!

by Medindia Content Team on March 20, 2006 at 8:34 PM
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An urgent need for prison reforms: California!

California Department of Corrections, which seems to run in rough weather, reveals the resistance to a badly needed overhaul of the nation's largest prison system. This was revealed by a leading expert on prisons and the psychology of incarceration.

"The governor took on this incendiary issue when his political capital was high, and the departure of his hand-picked champion of reform is a huge blow," said Haney professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, referring to Arnold.

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He also added, "Prisons are intended to deprive inmates of their liberty. Anything more--unnecessary deprivations, indignities, and ill treatment--represents gratuitous pain and can have harmful psychological consequences."

He has written a book, Reforming Punishment: Psychological Limits to the Pains of Imprisonment (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2006).
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He said, "We now know a lot about why people commit crime, but prisons do nothing to address those issues--and may actually make them worse. Our nation's overreliance on incarceration to control crime is doomed to fail. Spending so much on imprisonment siphons money away from the kind of crime-prevention programs we need. Many incur severe psychological costs as they adapt to the dehumanizing effects of modern prison life. Adverse conditions inside prisons and the absence of effective rehabilitation programs contribute to problematic behavior inside prison and dysfunctional behavior after release. As a society, we can't afford to pursue this wrongheaded approach much longer."

He also pointed out prison reforms that need to be done. They are as follows:-

1. Repeal mandatory sentencing laws to give judges more discretion over who goes to prison and for how long. 2. Develop alternatives to prison for the mentally ill, certain drug offenders, and those convicted of minor crimes.

3. Give all prisoners access to vocational, educational, and other forms of prison programming, as well as proper medical care.

4. Ensure that prisons adequately address the treatment needs of addicted, mentally ill, and developmentally disabled inmates.

5. Improve overall conditions of confinement by reducing overcrowding and minimizing the use of psychologically destructive practices like punitive isolation.

6. Provide extensive postimprisonment assistance and community-based programs and services.

Hope these are followed and something is done

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