California’s Prison System Chaos.
Have you ever wondered where and how our tax money being spent? We pay taxes for services that we all benefit from as a community. Things like roads, law enforcement, libraries, transportation systems, to live comfortable and safe. However; a very big chunk of that money goes towards prisons and jails. California’s current prison budget is almost $10 billion dollars (Jerrod). Even this sum is not enough to incarcerate all of the offenders. California will need an additional two to four billion dollars to address the overcrowded problem (Hayes). This does not necessarily mean that the crime rate has increased, this just means that politicians need to change the way our prison system works. In the end we are the ones paying for everything. Statistics have shown that the crime rate has decreased over the years but prison population continued to grow (Mayeux). This has started since 1980s when California released a series of strictest mandatory sentencing laws and stringiest parole policies in the nation (Young). These actions have increased prison population by 700 percent since the 1980s (Young). All at the expense of taxpayers which costs us $32 billion dollars yearly nationwide and keeps growing (Kieso). Government cut budgets for education but they keep adding money to correction and rehabilitation sector (Mayeux). Prisons are overcrowded to the point that Supreme Court ordered our state to release 46,000 prisoners because there is just no room for them (Jerrod). Purpose of this proposal is to provide more information on this issue and propose a solution to reduce prison population by reducing the numbers of secondary offenders and going for the root of the problem.
Politicians complain about how they do not have enough money to support this and that and they keep cutting budgets from essential public services like academic system. The problem is not how much money we as a society have but how we use it. Politicians focus too much on incarceration of people and they believe that being a lot stricter on offenders will prevent them from committing crime. As time shows this approach has not been working successfully. This mindset costs tax payers a lot of money and just like falling dominoes it triggers other things to fall with it. Since 1980s California has enacted the strictest mandatory sentencing and parole policies in the nation (Young). This has only caused prison population to increase by 700 percent, going from less than twenty-five thousand to one hundred and seventy-two thousand (Kieso). Prisons are operating way beyond their maximum capacities putting prison workers and inmates in danger. In 2006 Arnold Schwarzenegger declared state of emergency calling for immediate action to prevent death and harm caused by overpopulation in California’s prisons (Jerrod). In May of 2011 U.S Supreme court ordered the state of California to release 46,000 inmates because prisons are violating Constitutional rights of the inmates (Jerrod). This kind of action might temporarily ease the situation but the problem is still there. Why are there so many prisoners? United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world (Hayes). We should address this issue on the federal level not only the state. Statistics have showed that most of the prisoners come from underprivileged backgrounds with poor education or no education at all. Majority of inmates have not even completed high school. About one-third of prisoners were unemployed prior to their conviction (Perkinson). And then what happens when we cut school’s budget to put some more money into these prisons to accommodate this amount of overflow of prisoners. We get even more prisoners. Feels like government wants everybody in prison because the only actions they take only create more prisoners. There are currently more than six million people that are under state supervision in forms of parole or probation (Young). This...
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Perkinson, Robert. “Guarded Hope” Boston Review, Jul/Aug2008, Vol. 33 Issue 4, p17-20, 4p,
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