1. What are the main factors that determine high or low incarceration rates? Why does the USA have a higher incarceration rate than our other model countries?
Incarceration rates have been on the rise in recent years, especially in the United States. The growth of the number of prisons can be attributed to a number of factors including, racial demographics, length of prison sentences, drug sentencing laws, and the privatization of the prison system. These numerous social factors have a huge impact on the growth of the incarceration rate in the United States and how they are compared to other countries' prison systems.
The social influences have made a huge impact on the recent spike in incarceration rates. In the United States, incarceration rates according to a study conducted in 2009, that 754 out of 100,000 citizens will be incarcerated at least once in their life. (International Centre for Prison Study, 2010) This number is linked to many social factors that are happening both politically and racially. The United States has undergone drastic changes in the last decade racially and its drug policies enacted by Reagan have influenced an increasing rate of crime. Undertones of racism are still prominent in many places, and with the influx of new immigrants, discrimination and racial profiling are bound to occur. Another social factor that sets many countries apart from the United States is the War on Drugs and an increase in the length of prison sentences. Drug-related charges account for half the rise in state prisoners. (Alexander, 2010) Policies are very strict and allow for little differentiation between drug offenders.
Overall, it comes down to understanding and fixing social problems that are present in the United States and try adopting other laws and policies that are effective in other country’s models. It is important to take examples from other places and adapt them to the United States in order to take care of this growing incarceration problem.
2. How is the conflict in the Middle East-related to terrorism around the world today? How might that information help us combat terrorism?
The conflict in the Middle East has risen out cultural clashes and ideals. After the attack on 9/11, the faces of terrorism had changed and there is so much more meaning behind terrorism now. These attacks had put a symbol for terrorism, that for many Americans they had not seen prior to this extent. Terrorism has many discrete networks working independently of each other and attacks occur all around the world from Bali, to the United States, to Iraq. (U.S. Department of State, 2006) They operate within a specific set of ideals, ideals that are spread through media and word of mouth and that is what the terrorist are fighting for, to have their ideals pushed upon the world, much like the United States' impact around the world from oil explorations to sweatshops. Terrorism is in response to a changing world swift reaction for them that needs to occur with violence.
Knowing how they operate and think will lead to understanding their patterns of attacks; why and who they will attack. Knowing what gives rise to terrorism can help in dismantling each cell within the network. The factors that we confront today include political alienation, where people have no voice or political control and are recruited and educated to use violence to achieve their goals believing the political injustice is caused by Western influences. Propaganda plays a role as well, hateful media is disseminated and fuels their movement that involves mass killings of innocent populations. (U.S. Department of State, 2006) Understanding where these factors will arise will be important in understanding where the next attack might occur and measure can be used to mitigate these damages. In doing so we must attack the cells to help dismantle the whole movement while also making an attempt through media to show that these injustices are not caused by the Western Influence.
3. What role can/should the USA play in fighting international organized crime in other countries? What are the positive and negative consequences of your strategy?
Transnational crime refers to the individuals or collection of individuals that attempt to gain power, influence, and monetary gain mostly through the use of illegal activities. This makes it difficult to combat because there is no single method that these operations adhere to. Each is a very specific case requiring specific intelligence and action to disassemble. In recent years, the connectedness between transnational organized leaders has grown, due to in part by the blossoming information technology sciences, which allow for communication among different groups creating alliances to achieve similar goals. They find weak governments and use their power to destabilize political, financial and security institutions to undermine world markets. These organizations allow for the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, expanding narcotics and human trafficking, as well as another number of illicit activities.
Methods to fight this crime include enhanced intelligence and information sharing, protecting the financial system and strategic markets, strengthen investigations and prosecutions, to disrupt drug trafficking and its facilities, and final to build international partnerships to foster the knowledge shared to take down each aspect. (White House, 2011) There are limits to these methods and all the actions used will rely on the information gathered beforehand, this will help reveal the actions that need to be done and can promote a common knowledge between countries of similar thought to make the necessary actions to collapse these networks. Also with the internet age, cyber-intelligence is extremely influential and hacking between both sides will occur, security should be of the utmost importance in order to keeps their intentions hidden. There are many factors to be looked at and there is no one answer to take down organized crime, it is a fluid and changing industry that needs to be monitored and taken down on a case-by-case basis.
4. Rank the three main punishment philosophies that you think can best be used to deal with the problem of juvenile delinquency. Be sure to explain why you think this way.
Juvenile delinquency has been a problem within many regions of the United States and hail from social and cultural backgrounds that foster this kind of behavior. Understanding these factors can help with rehabilitation and punishment processes based on a case-by-case basis using the most effective policies. Juvenile justice systems previously have had methods for controlling behavior, but the effectiveness of these systems has been hard to quantify. The most used method today is a rehabilitative intervention in which juveniles are educated in a certain way in order to reduce repeat offenders. This mode of thought has begun to replace punishment philosophies but most are still seeking a balance between punishment and rehabilitation.
Detention reform is a form of harsher punishment that mimics how adult crime is implemented. This form of punishment has its pitfalls and strengths. Children are easily influenced, but throwing them into a harsh environment just like a jail or boot camp might foster a sense of hatred for the controlling officers and this hate will send them down into the endless criminal cycle and repeat crimes until old enough to be sent into the adult prison system. But using both rehabilitation methods coupled with detention may allow for the improvement of the convicted delinquent by fostering both a harsh punishment for his wrongdoings but also getting to the root of the problem, which lies in the social aspects of his or her upbringing. This is a bottom-up approach and uses both punishment methods, including detention, and rehabilitation in order to fix the problem. There is no sure method that works and each case will be different depending on social backgrounds, so punishments methods should be issued accordingly because if a wrong treatment is used than the life of the juvenile will be ruined.
Alexander, Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press. p. 60
International Centre for Prison Studies (18 Mar 2010).Prison Brief - Highest to Lowest Rates World Prison Brief. London: King's College London School of Law.
US Department of State. (2006) National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. White House. http://2001-2009.state.gov/s/ct/rls/wh/71803.htm
White House. (2011). Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Addressing Converging Threats to National Security. White House. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/Strategy_to_Combat_Transnational_Organized_Crime_July_2011.pdf