235764916 CJA 394 Week 1 Criminal Justice Overview Paper SAMPLE page only

Topics: Criminal justice, Prison, Crime Pages: 7 (1665 words) Published: March 9, 2015

Select one of the following issues:
• Racial profiling
• Prison overcrowding
• The war on drugs
• Increased use of technology
• Cultural diversity
Write a 1,050- to 1,705-word paper addressing how your selected issue affects the criminal justice system as a whole. • Describe some of the change(s) the criminal justice system as a whole has made in response to the issue you selected. • Include your opinion on whether the changes are sufficient. Should more changes be made, and if so, what changes?  Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.

Prison Overcrowding

Prison Overcrowding
One of the greatest challenges currently facing the American criminal justice system is overcrowding. America has the largest prison population in the world with over two million inmates which have led to major challenges in housing the many inmates. The many challenges being faced by the correctional system include insufficient prison beds for inmates and lack of prison space as well as inadequate funding, and resources. The causes for the extreme overcrowding have been blamed on retributive sentencing polices, new legislation, the War on Drugs, and the criminalization of the juvenile offender. The rise in the sentenced population in the United States shows that the number of persons sentenced to probation, parole, prison, and jail has risen to record levels, although there has been slowing prison growth since 2006. This leveling-off still results in record prison populations, but the rate at which offenders are sentenced to prison is declining slightly, primarily due to the state budget problems and also severe prison overcrowding in many locations (Albanese, 2013). The increase in prison populations is a direct result of an increase in the likelihood of offenders’ being sent to prison; also, new incarcerations are occurring faster than releases from prison. The rate of admissions into state prisons (per one hundred prisoners) was 55 percent; the release rate was 31 percent. This difference of nearly 25 percent has been a major cause of prison overcrowding, although recent trends show that states are working to lessen this gap between new incarcerations and releases from prison. Prison crowding also reflects the decline of indeterminate sentencing and the shrinking power of parole boards in setting actual sentence lengths, the corresponding rise in determinate sentencing and truth-in-sentencing laws which limit early release from prison (Albanese, 2013).

Prison overcrowding in American began to increase during the 1960’s after the new crime policy known as the “War on Drugs” policy was initiated by the federal government (Richardson, 2004). The war on drugs policy was created after the large increase of drug flooding into the country after prohibition. This new get tough on crime policy required prison offenders to serve harsher sentences if they are caught dealing in drugs. This included minor drug offenders and individuals believed to be involved in a conspiracy to sell or distribute drugs. As a result prison became overcrowded with drug offenders while violent offenders served lighter sentences than the drug offender. Instead of providing the drug offender with substance abuse treatment that would aid the offender in overcoming their addiction to drugs the offender is eventually released from prison only to commit another drug offense which lands them back into the already overcrowded penal system. The ready availability of drugs in prison only expounds the problem because offenders that are not addicted to drugs when they arrive at prison and then they leave prison with a drug addiction and no resources to overcome this addiction. The War on Drugs or new get tough on crime policy also changed the rehabilitative policy that was created when the prison system was reformed during the Progressive Era. The original intent of the correctional department was to change the attitude, behavior, and...

References: Albanese, J. S. (2013). Criminal Justice (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Richardson, H. (2004). What Causes Overcrowding in Jails and Prisons? Retrieved October 28,
2011 from www.ct.gov/opm/lib/opm/.../whatiscausingprisonovercrowding.pdf
Savage, D. (2011). U.S. Supreme Court Orders Massive Inmate Release to Relieve California 's
Crowded Prisons. Retrieved October 28, 2011 from
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