American Prison Issues and Reform

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American prison systems need reforms because recidivism is common among the parolees and the rehabilitation is underfunded and understaffed. Prisons are becoming overcrowded and states are pumping money into building new prisons and modifying old ones. We don’t need more prisons. We need to reform our current prisons.

Since the mid-1970s, the United States has turned to increased incarceration to fight crime (Haley). Over the course of decades, the prisons have become overcrowded because of the sentences being given. Overcrowding simultaneously reduces the opportunities for staff to effectively monitor prisoner behavior (Haney). Once the prisoners get out, after an elongated sentence, they are hard pressed to merge back into society. It is because of this that two-thirds of ex-cons are rearrested and nearly one-half are reincarcerated within three years of being released from prison (Haley). It becomes a circle of recidivism that many people cannot break free of and begin anew.

California has thought of a very simple yet effective idea of how to combat crime increase. They call it the "Three Strikes" rule, essentially it says that after 3 convictions, you get a sentence of 25 years to life (Reynolds). However, there are a few catches. First off the first two convictions must be very serious felonies, and the third crime must also be a felony but not as bad a felony (Reynolds). Historic drops in crime occurred within 3 years of the passage of "Three Strikes." We have since gone on to roll back crime rates to the 1968 era ... "a 40-year reduction." The exception is residential burglary, which is at the same rate as 1953, a rate that hasn't been seen in over one-half a century. While there has been some modest rate changes—both up and down—the overall 15-year period, after "Three Strikes," has cut crime nearly in half. (Reynolds)

Not only does this law lower crime, but it saves the state money. Five years before this law, California built 19 new prisons...
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