America's combined prison and local jail population topped two million inmates for the first time in history on June 30, 2002, according to a new report from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. With approximately one in 100 American adults incarcerated, decisions by policy makers and corrections officials may directly affect the future in regard to the best way to handle this nation’s prison system. In society, the philosophy of sending an individual to prison has evolved. The criminal justice system has put much prominence in regard to how it views people who commit criminal acts against other people. In association with an increasing correctional population, the future correctional philosophies are deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, restoration, and retribution. Some means of punishment must prevail for the victim’s sense of justice as well as to appease the public’s sense of justice. There exists a “get tough on crime” perspective in today’s criminal justice system. This perspective is good, but if this perspective on crime and sentencing is not carefully applied, jails and prisons in the future may struggle with even bigger issues. These issues would encompass more overcrowding, more violence, more health issues, more facility maintenance, more rehabilitation programs, more employees, and so forth.
The United States federal prison population increased 790% from 1980 to 2012, according to a Congressional Research Service report. This increase, in theory may be a direct result from mandatory sentencing laws. The three strikes law mandates a sentence of 25 years to life for repeat criminal offenders. The theory behind the three strikes law suggests that tougher sentences would slow the recidivism rate; however, in reality these tougher sentences hold more offenders for a longer period in prisons creating havoc on the population levels. Although the “three strikes and you are out” is an effective form of motivation...
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