Why are prisons built far from large cities?

I noticed similarities between Kupers and Rhodes piece in how they both mentioned this idea of secrecy and extreme exclusion that the inmates suffer in solitary confinement.  I don’t think anyone is denying the extreme sense of exclusion and deprivation felt by inmates confined in solitary confinement, but the idea of secrecy is worthy of debate and has a history in the corrections setting. If you study the history of corrections, if was thought in the early 1900s that perhaps if we build prisons out in the country far removed from major cities that perhaps these rough and tough criminals will be exposed to nature and that wholesome country values will permeate their brains and perhaps aid in the rehabilitation.  Of course building prisons far away also had crime control in mind in the sense that prisoners who escape would have little around in the immediate surroundings to engage in criminal activity.  Kupers included this idea of secrecy to suggest that violations of rights may be occurring in these prisons, which are very possible; I just thought it was important to reflect on the historical implications of this sort of prison design. Unfortunately building prisons in this style seems to greatly hinder rehabilitation for the main reason of the difficulties low income families incur in having to travel a great distance to visit incarcerated family members.

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2 Responses

  1. I agree in some respect with Kupers contentions regarding possibilities for distant prison construction; however, I believe one of the foremost concerns the state has when constructing a prison is property and home value. Statistically, homes within the vicinity of major prisons have less market value then homes outside of it. If the state where to build prisons near major cities and towns more people would be affected financially and suffer possible loss. Now the reasons for this may allude to the fact that being within a close proximity of a prison inherently heightens the level of dangerousness or the mere fact that the word “prison” insinuates low income living, which isn’t very enticing for a prospective home buyer. As you mentioned, the process of rehabilitation seems somewhat inhibited by distant seclusion and for myself, it seems plausible to assume that this distant seclusion in no way reflects the intention of rehabilitation by prisons but rather it is a way for the state increase revenue in the housing market by keeping prisons segregated from mass society.

  2. I really like both of your points. So we think that prisons might be secluded to maintain good property value, reduce crime in areas around prisons, and perhaps to hide what is secretly happening in the prisons. I thought it was really interesting how in Reginald Barry’s case, he said that when he first entered Tamm’s, the town was run down and rural. When he said he came out, there were so many new stores and restaurants because of the visitors that come to visit their loved ones in prison. So the property value probably goes up as the town becomes commercialized, and the government benefits. On the downside (for the gov’t), though, perhaps the bigger the town grows the more people are aware of the prison and inquire about what’s happening there. Perhaps the increase of the town population and economic growth can actually decrease the human rights violations and other secrets of that kind. Hmmm…

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