Challenges Jails Face
The biggest challenge jails face are human resources development and overcrowding issues. Finding prison workers and keeping these workers is a difficult task due to the fact that prison workers must endure the harsh dangerous environment of prisons (Hart, 2008). There are high rates of burnout caused by lack of leadership and management knowledge of the prison environment. These problems require ongoing training for staff.
Overcrowding of the prison environment makes the human resource issues more pronounced due to lack of staff and understanding of how to manage large numbers of prisoners. Overcrowding is the most serious issue due to the increased dangers it presents to workers and inmates. Currently, “U.S. prisons overall are operating at 99% capacity, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies…” (Caumont, 2013)
Prisons are a challenge because they are in many ways counterproductive. For instance, trying to rehabilitate criminals is in many ways contrary to the object of prison. Placing large numbers of criminals together is counterintuitive to the concept of rehabilitation since these individuals are now subject to a criminal culture. The prison presents a situation where there is a need to separate criminals from society, both the purpose of rehabilitation and to protect law abiding citizens. Placing prisoners together makes sense since it keeps large numbers of convicts separate from society in a practical manner. But at the same time this situation gives rise to things like prison culture which works against rehabilitation and punishment as well as causing overcrowding issues.
What needs to occur with prisons is that they need to be designed in a manner which limits contact between inmates but does not inflict suffering such as the reform prisons and old penitentiaries. The use of technology and architecture may provide solutions in the future. It may be possible to design prisons in ways which limit prisoners to specific zones and only allow contact with a limited number of inmates. This would reduce overcrowding issues as well as help with managing the prisoners better.
Caumont, A. (2013, August 2). Chart of the week: The problem of prison overcrowding. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/02/chart-of-the-week-the-problem-of-prison-overcrowding/
Hart, J. (2008). Jail Staff Today — Problems and Challenges. American Jails, 21(6), 4–97.