Overcrowding in America's Prisons: Can rehabilitation help lower the growing numbers of repeat offenders?

Topics: Prison, Penology, Recidivism Pages: 20 (5359 words) Published: April 15, 2003
Overcrowding in America's Prisons:

Can Repeat Offenders Be Rehabilitated

Thesis Statement and Hypothesis:

Prisons in America are overcrowded, understaffed and I believe put very little emphasis on rehabilitation.


The American prison system was set up to rehabilitate prisoners so they can meld back into society as productive citizens. Instead, factors as high crime rate and of course, mandatory sentences have caused an increased over-crowding of our jails. This has also caused and increased budget deficit. Where is the rehabilitation that once was used, it has all but disappeared in the prison system today.

Statement of the Problem:

Anyone who watches television or even reads a newspaper has seen examples of the lack of justice in America. Our jails and prisons have become warehouses for criminals. Many who are repeat offenders or substance abusers. Are these people receiving the rehabilitation that they need to become an upstanding citizen? They are being released with no marketable skills for life on the outside. This can lead to many of the people returning the life of crime and thus, becoming one of the many repeat offenders. In many cases of substance abusers, they are released with not treatment for the addictions. Instead they are courts ordered to seek the treatment themselves.

Proposed Solution:

If the prison system could be reformed to rehabilitate and treat prisoners to better cope with their lives, I believe the number of repeat offenders could be reduced. We need to see that substance abuse is a disease and we need to treat the disease, until we treat the disease the problem will continue to reoccur.


In this paper I will look at why our prisons seem to fail at rehabilitation. I will look at what programs are in place and how they perform. It's my hope to find there are programs that if put in place, would help us to stop the rise in prison population by repeat offenders.


I plan on using many different sources to gather information. From the use of magazines, newspapers, articles from periodicals in the library as well as the various Internet sites. I hope I will able to report statistics from various government and other pertinent Internet sites.


I am not an expert on the prison system, but I do have some personal interest in doing this report. My daughter's husband is a substance abuser and a repeat offender of different felonious crimes. I hope to gain insight on how he could be rehabilitated to live in society and be an ideal citizen if at all possible.


It is my hope to correlate the facts between the failure to rehabilitate and the growing number of repeat offenders.


I) Introduction

A) Statement of Problem

B) Prison Overcrowding

C) Rehabilitation

D) Scope

II) Prisons

A) Overcrowding

1) Legislative Changes

(a) New Offenses

(b) Mandatory Sentences

(c) Terms

(d) Habitual Felon Laws

(e) Modification and Alterations

(f) 1986 Anti drug Act

B) Cost

1) Taxpayer Cost

2) Construction Cost

3) Cost Per Inmate

C) Effects of Overcrowding

1) Quality of Life

2) Mental/Physical Health

3) Litigations

III) Rehabilitation

A) History

1) Influence

2) Reformatory System

3) Progressive Reformers

4) Get Tough Approaches

B) Definition

C) Types of Rehabilitation

1) Counseling Programs

2) Educational Programs

3) Substance Abuse Programs

D) Effectiveness

IV) Conclusion

V) Appendices


America's prison system has become extremely overcrowded and managing it has become a job of staggering proportions. In 2001, there were 1.4 million men and women incarcerated in state and federal correctional institutions. This overcrowding has increased the cost to operate prisons at alarming rates. Due to a high recidivism rate, many experts believe that lack of rehabilitation has played a great role in this...

Cited: McShane, Marilyn. D. ed., Williams III, Frank P. ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York and London, Garland Publishing,Inc., 1996
Menninger, Karl
Oliver, Marilyn Tower. Prisons, Today 's Debate. New Jersey, Enslow Publishing, 1997
United States
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