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Critical Theory

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Steven Williams

Professor Poole

SOC 442

April 22, 2016

Critical Writing Paper #2

        The book Breaking Women written by Jill A. McCorkel shows us the effects that laws have had on women & how women are receiving harsher punishments in comparison to men. To be more specific the War on Drugs has taken a huge toll on women & has ultimately increased their incarceration rates higher than they have ever been before. McCorkel also goes into detail on the type of treatment these women receive within the PHW (Project Habilitation Women). Within the PHW their ultimate job is to break down these women in hopes to rebuild them into women that will be accepted by society. They view the women as, “incomplete and underdeveloped” (McCorkel 86). The people who worked within this program didn’t think it was very helpful to the inmates. They believed that it was fairly degrading and rarely had any positive impact on their “rehabilitation”. The only positive thing that came out of going through this program was that you would have a chance of getting early release. But before being granted that early release you must go through this traumatic experience. McCorkel examines how these women are able to put up with this program, and the little things they do to make the time go by faster. Majority of the women do not make it through these programs, due to the conditions being that harsh. Majorities of those who do end up making it either have accepted the view that the program has given them, or they managed to fake it all the way to their freedom.

        The first issue within the book that stuck out to me was the issue of overcrowding. Due to the United States becoming harder or crime we have seen a scary increase of people going into the prison system. Most would think that this is because we are finally catching all of those criminals, but in reality we are not. Although incarceration rates have gone up crime rates have almost stayed the same, but ultimately have slightly gone down. With these new tactics that the government has brought upon us such as the War on Drugs and harsher crime laws we have managed to incarcerate a huge percentage of our people. “More than 47 million Americans (or 25% of the adult population) have state or federal criminal records” (Brewer & Heitzig 628). Within Breaking Women we see that a lot of the people within the program are actual there on drug charges. The collateral effect of this laws have made so that these women face double the time of what the really should be facing for petty drug charges. As of right now, “Women represent the fastest growing sector of the prison population. More than 90,000 prisoners are women, and they are overwhelmingly women of color” (Brewer & Heitzig 628). With all of this being said there hasn’t been any type of solution to this issue. Within the book it was stated that they didn’t want to cut back on their tough on crime policies, simply because they didn’t want to,” appear soft on crime” (McCorkel 22). The only solution that the government came up with was to build more and more prisons. This is not a suitable fix to over population within prisons. This solution just gives us more prisons to fill up so that we can continue making profit. McCorkel states, “What was needed was a response to the overcrowding problem that would embody the ideals of the “tough on crime” movement while serving to shrink the size of the prisoner’s population” (McCorkel 22). We understand that being tough on crime can be a good thing. But the purpose should be to rehabilitate the individuals who committed the crime and then return them to society in hopes that they make the right choices. There is no need for us to hold people in prison for 10 plus years over little possession charges.



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