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Substantial Changes in Reintroducing Prisoners into Society

Autor:   •  December 5, 2017  •  Thesis  •  1,862 Words (8 Pages)  •  203 Views

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Prison is defined as a location where criminals are held while they either await trial or where they stay after conviction; however the true struggle begins once criminals are released and attempt to find their place in society. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is convicted of an adulterous affair and, after she leaves prison, suffers from mental illness, as a result of her complete isolation. While some argue that programs after imprisonment will affect jobs and housing in a positive way, even more must be done after a convict’s imprisonment to promote increased mental health and increased positive involvement in society among ex-convicts.

After prison. Many ex-convicts struggle socially. These ex-convicts lack relationships with their peers as well as their families.Through the mainly negative way Hawthorne characterizes members of the Puritan society, he implies that although Hester is no longer imprisoned, she suffers from social exclusion in her own community. As a result of the affair, Hester Prynne gives birth to Pearl. Pearl behaves differently from most children her age, and the older that Pearl becomes, the more bizarre her behavior gets. Word reaches Hester Prynne’s ears that there is a plan for the community to take Pearl, the child believed to be a demon, out of Hester’s care out of fear that Hester did not teach Pearl religion. Pearl is only believed to be evil because she is the child of a woman who sinned. Hester’s ability to parent is questioned because members of the community do not believe in sinners raising children. By attempting to remove Hester’s child, the community attempts to punish Hester even more by taking away any pleasure or human contact. Thus, Hester loses the unique traits that made her the woman she was as a result of prison, mainstream society rejects Hester and all Hester does is offer help to those who are confused or imprisoned (Sewall). Similarly to Hawthorne, Sewall uses his personal analysis of Hester to imply that Hester’s sin, as well as time in prison, has removed her from the non-sinners in her community and has forced her to become a different person. Hester’s imprisonment forced her to lose the many things that composed her personality. Of the thousands released from prison each year around the world, so many struggle to interact with others and form the human relationships they desire.

One of the immediate changes that ex-convicts experience is the way they are now treated in society. After committing a crime, society typically looks at one differently and only sees him or her as a felon. One of the main focuses in The Scarlet Letter is how the townspeople are very quick to both punish Hester forever for her crime which they view as horrific. After Hester’s conviction and immediate release from prison, the townspeople believe that the only punishment equal to her crime is death. Hawthorne describes the townspeople’s reaction with the following, “‘What do we talk of marks and brands, whether on the bodice of her gown or the flesh of her forehead?’...’This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die’” (Hawthorne 43). Hester’s community views her as a criminal because affairs and people who partake in them are not seen as moral. Those in the Puritan society want to keep Hester from staining the pure reputation of the community, so they punish her in hopes she’ll regret her crime. Sewall explores Hester’s deeply personal loss in prison through her personality before and after prison. Due to spending time in prison, Hester loses her creativity, youth, beauty, as well as any hope of happiness for the future because she is permanently punished by society's harsh judgments. Sewall implies that after prison Hester loses her sense of self and traits a result of the loneliness and isolation of life after prison. It is often said that it takes only one person to ruin a whole group of people. When a person commits a crime society shames them and as a result of that shame limits their potential for happiness.

Worldwide, daily aspects of life including housing and jobs are limited and kept out of the reach of ex-criminals. Similarly to Hawthorne, others, including Peter Baker of the New York Times and President Obama, believe that society must support ex-criminals in order for them to thrive in society. One noteworthy example of this support is the funding of systems that support new lives for ex-criminals. Peter Baker completely agrees with the president and his new plan to revolutionize the criminal justice system to stop a conviction from being a social death sentence. Additionally, Baker believes that ex-criminals should be given more opportunities in the workforce. Upon seeing an application where a potential employee admits to spending time in prison, employers automatically dismiss them. By denying those with prior convictions, employers limit possible futures for those who are ex-convicts. Another complication of the increased incarceration rate is after releasing criminals, uneducated, skilless, jobless, and homeless men and women are brought back into a society where many members of society do not want to employ or house these men and women out of fear. Society views ex-convicts as dangerous; therefore, they struggle to survive and find a place where they are given fair and equal opportunities. In order for both ex-criminals and the rest of society to benefit, ex-criminals must be included in the market for jobs as well as the market for homes.

Increased isolation and strong mental illness have a very high correlation. In America, the lack of inclusion of once imprisoned groups has led to high poverty and mental illness. In addition to struggling with jobs and houses, through society’s generalizations


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