Prison System Essay Topics

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Understanding the prison system and the practice of incarceration is an important aspect of learning about sociology. This lesson provides essay topics that will help your students make sense of how the prison system works.

Writing About Prison

Are you teaching your students about sociology? One aspect of this is understanding what criminal justice in in different societies. Many students will be interested in the prison system, whether because they have had personal or family experience or because they have heard about it via popular culture or current events.

The prison system in the United States is complex and has a nuanced history. To help students make sense of it, you might consider having them write essays about different subtopics. By writing essays, students will become experts on different aspects of the prison system and will look to different kinds of evidence to justify their perspectives. The topics in this lesson will get students going with essays on the prison system.

History of the Prison System

Of course, one big part of understanding the prison system is knowing its roots and development over time. These topics focus on the history of prisons within the United States.

  • Identify the historical roots of the prison system in the United States. In your essay, show how these roots led to the system we have today, and speculate as to why this current system became the prevalent one in this country.
  • Analyze one major social reform that has occurred over the course of U.S. history to change the prison system. Describe what factors went into this reform movement, what caused it to succeed or fail, and how it impacted the prison system in abiding ways.
  • What are some of the ways that the Civil Rights movement endeavored to alter the prison system, and why did this become a Civil Rights issue? Describe both successes and failures in the Civil Rights movement's engagement with prisoner's rights.

Current Issues in the Prison System

Here, you will find topics that encourage students to analyze different sociological factors pertaining to the prison system today.

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