Abigail K. California

Good Behavior: An Expectation, Not Something to be Rewarded

Prisoners being released early from prison for violent or harmful offenses is a serious problem in our justice system, especially when many people are serving more time in prison for milder crimes. People who have committed violet crimes need to endure the entire punishment for what they have done, if not to discourage them from doing it again, then to protect the citizens of this country.

Dear Future President,

I’m going to start by asking you a question: When you were raising your children did you reward them for good behavior, or expect it from them? How about when they became adults? Maybe when they were young, you might have rewarded your children for good behavior, but as they got older you would expect that their education and upbringing taught them to act with respect and good intentions towards others. This does not seem to be the way the justice system in our great nation looks at the issue of prison sentences and early release from prison.

Our justice system should not allow “good behavior” to be an excuse to release criminals from prison before their sentence is up, but rather, “good behavior” should be an expectation, especially for adults. Good behavior in prison does not necessarily reflect how the person will act once they are released, especially in the case of criminals guilty of sexual assault, which is usually a repeat offense even after going to jail for such a crime.

I understand that prisoners are not always going to be the most cooperative, and it is necessary to give them an incentive to behave well, but they also deserve to serve the full sentence for the crime that they have committed. A better option for encouraging convicts to comply with rules is implementing punishments for those who act out while in prison. In addition, I think that prison sentences need to be adjusted to fit better with the crime. For example, a person should not be sentenced to many years in jail for possessing drugs or another non-violent offense.

When thinking about this issue, I encourage you to consider whether you truly know who you are sending back out into the world when you release prisoners early: do you really know that they are not going to commit the crime again? Think of the safety of your children, as well as all of the people whose safety and wellbeing you are now in charge of, and if you want to put them at risk of being attacked, assaulted, or robbed. Whether the convict has become a better person while in prison or not, he or she did commit the crime, and need to endure the punishment in its entirety.


Abigail Kadlec

Marlborough School

AP World History Period H

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