Prison Overcrowding

Topics: Prison, Mandatory sentencing, Criminal justice Pages: 8 (3064 words) Published: December 31, 2012
Prison Overcrowding

In America’s tough economic society, over population has become an exceedingly hot topic issue. However, overcrowding in America’s prison system has been a severe problem since the 1970's. The majority of the changes have come from different policies on what demographic to imprison and for what reason. The perspective of locking up criminals because they are "evil" is what spawned this (Allen, 2008). Because of this perspective the prison system in America is in need of serious reorganization. Since 1980, most states have one or more of their prisons or the entire system under orders from the federal courts to maintain minimum constitutional standards (Stewart, 2006). The fiscal effects of trying to support such a system must not been fully felt on our society, and the problem of keeping humanitarian and sufficient conditions in the prisons is equally problematic (Camp, 2004). New legislation is going to have to be passed to overthrow the current policies we have now. This issue has many branched out effects on society such as taxes, lawmaking, and law enforcement. All of these things and more will be and are affected by this issue. Prisons in the United States are funded by taxes. The average cost of locking someone up is over $30,000 a year. The high costs are not just for the prisoners needs but for security personnel and the physical plant (Smith, 2006). In 1995 governmental units collectively spent 5.1 billion dollars for the creation of new prisons and prison space and for every 100 million spent it is estimated that it will cost 1.6 billion over the next 3 decades to finance and operate (Stewart, 2006). Taxpayers foot this statement and even though crime rates are going down they do not seem to feel any safer than before. The money spent in inmates that can be out on parole, with a monitor and on house arrest can be used to implement treatment programs that can reduce the descent into crime in the future for inmates this will in turn avoid the effect of overcrowding prisons in the long run. The programs for rehabilitation should include substance abuse treatment, mental health services as well as programs that will help the inmates further their education with vocational programs. The programs can include job training, an opportunity to earn their GED, anger management classes, and counseling. These programs will be advantageous to help integrate the prisoner back into the community (Stewart, 2000). Overcrowding prisons have also caused substandard living conditions where inmates sleep on bunk beds that are three layers high as well as sleeping on the floors or tables. Imprisonment rates are extremely high for every 100,000 people in the United States , nearly 500 are in prison (Smith, 2006). To help avoid the overcrowding in jail I believe that offenders who haven’t committed any crimes against citizens or property destruction should be on house arrest with restrictions, parole, and a foot monitor (Stewart, 2006). This plan will miss out the violent criminals that have committed murders, armed thief, child molesters and rapist. These criminals should certainly be incarcerated in prison. The overcrowding of prisons has significantly increased the possibilities for infectious diseases, as well as poor hygiene that results with the increase of hepatitis strands, HIV, increased blood pressure, stress, and mental health disorders (Camp, 2004). Excess pressure can lead to violent behavior or depression which then can cause a person to commit suicide. Crime in prisons has increased creating unpredictable behavior leading to violence and suicidal tendencies. The crimes committed are cruelty beatings and raping (McDonald, 2000). The recent unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Farmer v. Brennan, a landmark case which has established the state of the law at the highest level, People Organized to Stop the Rape of Imprisoned Persons a Ft. Bragg based advocacy group, founded in 1979, believes...

References: Allen, H. (2008). Tackling Prison Overcrowding: Build More Prisons? Sentence Fewer Offenders? (Researching Criminal Justice). New York: Policy Press.
Bernard (2005). Prison, Inc.: A Convict Exposes Life Inside a Private Prison (Alternative Criminology). London: NYU Press. Camp, S. (2004).
Measuring Prison Performance: Government Privatization and Accountability (Violence Prevention and Policy Series, 2). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. Mauer, M. (2007).
The hidden question of time served in prison.(V. Alternatives to the Carceral State: A Panel Discussion)(Law overview): An article from: Social Research. Chicago: Thomson Gale. Mcdonald, D. (2000).
Private Prisons and the Public Interest (Crime, Law, and Deviance Series). New Brunswick, NJ: Smith, R. (2006).
Prison Conditions: Overcrowding, Disease, Violence, And Abuse (Incarceration Issues: Punishment, Reform, and Rehabilitation). Broomall: Mason Crest Publishers. Stewart, A. (2006).
Prison overcrowding: The problem and suggested solutions : a bibliographic review (Public administration series--bibliography). Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies.
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