Cost of Corrections in the United States

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Costs of Corrections in the United States

Did you know that 23 states prison systems are operating at over 100% capacity? "The increases in drug imprisonment, the decrease in releases from prison, and the re-incarceration for technical parole violations are leading to significant overcrowding and contribute to the growing costs of prisons. Prisons are stretched beyond capacity, creating dangerous and unconstitutional conditions which often result in costly lawsuits. In 2006, 40 out of 50 states were at 90 percent capacity or more, with 23 of those states operating at over 100 percent capacity." (Justice Policy Institute, "Pruning Prisons: How Cutting Corrections Can Save Money and Protect Public Safety," May 2009, via the Prisons and Drug Offenders chapter.) The United States today is arguably the most incarcerated society in human history. Some 3.2 percent of the adult population is in the correction system either incarcerated or on probation, parole or some other form of supervision, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The cost of operating prisons is one of the fastest growing areas in state budgets. Since 1990, state corrections costs have increased about 7.5 percent a year, according to the National Governors Association. In 1972, state inmate populations were about 175,000. Today, they stand at an astounding 1.4 million. In this research paper I will touch further into, why this is happening, what’s being done, and what needs to be done. The first question I will be looking into is why is this happening? How come state inmate populations are increasing? Here are some major states and there problems. California is by far the most publicized, but certainly not the only state having challenging problems paying for its correctional system. As with most state correctional systems, the California system is overcrowded with no real operational plan to resolve its overcrowding and other operational problems. Building new...
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