Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 5 | Words: 1499
Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Peter Moskos is currently an associate professor at the department of law and political science in Jay College of criminal justice and department of sociology in City University of New York Graduate Center. He was born in Chicago and attended his High school in Evanston Township High school. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in sociology. Moskos later joined Harvard University for his Masters of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree in sociology. Moskos worked as a Baltimore city police officer in which he did night patrols.

Purpose of Peter Moskos’ Book.The author responds to the idea that has been used by U.S prisons that jailing a criminal would correct and deter commitment of other crimes. He writes to give an alternative way of punishing criminals rather than imprisonment. The best alternative Peter offers then is flogging of which as he argues, is better than detaining 2.3 million Americans currently in prison (Moskos 1). He also criticizes criminal justice system of United States.

Main argument about the U.S. criminal Justice System. Moskos (2) argues that the modern United States prison was meant to rehabilitate criminal but it has soundly failed. In fact, Moskos claims that imprisonment has made more Americans to be criminals than rehabilitating them. He cites an example in New York City where crime rate was cut while it imprisoned fewer people. Peter adds that fewer murderers were reported in the year 2010 in New York when less detention was occurring (Moskos 4). Moskos then urges the U.S criminal justice system to consider cheaper, more sincere, and a compassionate way of rehabilitating criminal other than punishing them in the prisons.

The Scope of failure of U.S Criminal Justice System.The depth of failure of U.S criminal justice system, to Moskos is great. The system is dysfunctional and is weighed down with cases to handle. Justice is easily thwarted in the courts. The courts have a low capacity to handle cases hence several cases cannot reach the trial stage. Moskos reports that out of twenty serious cases, only one goes to full trial. This has left the people arrested to be sent to jails for lengthy period awaiting trials (Moskos 12).

If convicted, then the justice system sends one to prison. U.S has ended up locking the highest number of prisoners in the World. This number amounts to 2.3 million prisoners. This totals to about 1 percent of America’s mature population. The number imprisoned is almost equal to the entire figure of all American military staff (Moskos 3).

Why Prisons have failed to cure Crime and instead become Criminogenic

Moskos argues that prisons have failed to trim down crimes since most of the valuable crimes done by the people are demand stimulated (Moskos 4). For example, he mentions crimes related to drug trafficking. Peter disagrees that locking up a prisoner charged with drug dealing does not change the demand. This instead will open up more doors for other people to supply the drugs for the high demand with less supply.

Moskos (13) describes how the stay in jail help inmates train each on crimes and when they are out they become more equipped on crime commission. He argues that prisons root crimes. In fact to Moskos (13), people sent to prison when released are more likely to commit crimes than those who did not go. The inmates form relations, ties, gain knowledge of unlawful skills and strengthen inconsiderate customs.

Historical background of the Prison System in the U.S.A.Corporal punishment together with harsh confinement was used in U.S.A before a proper prison system was established. The detention was meant to hold the criminal until test or until money owed was settled. In the confinements, the criminals were held awaiting something else to take place. The prisons of the early times were very different in that people were allowed to intermingle with different genders. Relatives of the people imprisoned were allowed to pay a visit to them. Peter further explains that jail was something meant to be short term.

Those who were prisoners of war and politics were literally locked up as of the normal modern prisons of today. The number imprisoned was less compared to the current number. The present prison system now has seen criminals locked up in enclosures for a good time of their life. This process has changed from the corporal punishment to more well built cages with advanced walls.

Way in which US Criminal Justice System is Unique.According to Moskos (5), the criminal justice system in US is deeply rooted in retributive justice. This is evident with strong support for death penalty. The criminal justice believes in determent of crimes by incorporating such harsh penalties on criminals. Moskos (11) further explains that the system heavily believes in punishment as being part of retribution.

Once the criminal has being convicted of the offence they have done, the system is set such that one is sent to jail. The core base of doing that is to deter possibility of committing other crimes. The American Criminal justice system has been receptive to concepts of deterrence and crime preclusion.

How Successful are U.S Prison- System.The former Baltimore City Police officer displays strong arguments that prisons have failed to achieve the intended purpose in U.S. However, he cites some notable successfulness in punishment of criminals via prisons. He acknowledges the efforts done by imprisonment of criminals as rehabilitation to correct behavior. Moskos (14) cites ideas that American prisons impart on prisoners such as job training which equips prisoner with skills to work after being released from prisons. One such job opportunities learnt in prisons is cutting hair skills. He also adds that restorative justice, personal survival techniques and reentry ideas are added to the detainees.

Economic benefits of Prison- Industrial Complex in the US.Prison- industrial complex offers some economic benefits to a variety of interest groups that are known to profit from the dealing of imprisonment. The underprivileged local districts take prisons not as a weight economically but as a profitable market and a place to offer jobs. Much payment is done to the guards of the prisoners (Moskos 16).

Moskos (16) explains that labor unions have taken interest in prison-industrial complex system. They help build prisons and reap a lot of economic benefits thereafter. He cites an example of California prison-guard union that has a representation of thirty thousand workers. This industry has a value of $7 billion and a war chest of approximately $22 billion (Moskos 16).

Private prisons industrial complex are other good beneficiaries to the economy. The savings of the private prisons come mostly from the labor they offer. For example the savings of the largest private prison company in US in 2009 had amounted to $155 million. This translates to $5.35 for each inmate per day (Moskos 17).

Peter Moskos Main Conclusion.Peter concludes that punishment offered through prisons has failed and thus needs a replacement. It has subjected prisoners and general society to an expensive system and immoral treatment. He therefore calls for an alternative form of punishment other than prison. According to Moskos (32), flogging is the best alternative but he leaves the sole decision on the reader.

Prisons have been criminogenic and an economic burden to the society. In fact more people are confined in the prisons in America than any other nation and to Moskos, this is injustice done to the society. He points out that there are better alternative to punish people other locking 2.3 million citizens in jail!

I tend to disagree with Moskos on the idea of using flogging as alternative form of punishment to criminals. Of course the prison system has been broken and need reformation but not to do away with it. Flogging and releasing criminals would increase crime.

Recommendation.In defense of flogging by Peter Moskos is worth reading by other students. The presentation of the book in an indisputable style presenting the sense in the fresh system while stressing faults in the status-quo is worth reading by any student. The book offers an open discussion on the two systems of punishment bringing the student into a point of reason and almost tempted to take sides. But before taking sides, the author twists one’s reasoning to rethink. The book is thus suitable for a student who intends to broaden his or her knowledge on matters of prison and corporal punishment in US.

Two things likely to remember longest about the book.There are two things that have caught my attention in the book and are worth remembering. These are the description of the failed prisons in US and flogging as an alternative method of punishment to offenders. Throughout the book the author describes vividly the intended reason for use of prisons and how they have failed to deter crimes. He highlights the alarming number of 2.3 million people detained in prisons though crime rate reduction is not linked to imprisonment. He further presents flogging as an alternative method to punish criminals. The way he presents fogging exposing both the negative side and positive sides and finally land on a conclusion that logging is the best is captivating.

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