Do Prisons Work?

In order to answer this question, we need to explore the core purposes of prisons. The four main functions of a prison are to: act as a deterrent, protection of the society, retribution and reform. Having prisons also helps to vindicate the law as it shows society that crime and punishment is taken seriously. This essay will consider each of these aims and the extent to which they are being met.
Firstly, one of the aims of prison is to protect the society from individuals that are considered dangerous to the society. E.g. those that have committed serious crimes in any of the 4 types of crime. As of the 14th November 2014, the prison population in the UK is around 86,000. Around 4000 of those prisons are female, while the other 82,000 are male. ( The fact that these criminals are detained in prison and removed from society shows that prisons do protect the society to an extent. However, this is only to an extent. There are still cases where dangerous criminals are still at large. It could be argued that the restraints on judges - in terms of the length and severity of the punishment – could lead to serious or dangerous criminals being released before they have been reformed. However, that is not the prisons doing, but the UK judicial system. Another thing to consider is the re-offending rates. Although it mainly links to reform, it also ties in with protection. The statistics (linked in Reform section) shows that just over 45% of released offenders reoffend within the first year of release, meaning that the society may be in danger. In terms of what prisons are able to do, they protect the society to a significant extent. The main issue for protection lies within reform, which will be covered later on.
Another aim of prison is to punish criminals (retribution) for the crimes that they have committed. This means that a criminal with have to accept what they have done and deal with the consequences. Prisons aim for retribution mainly through...