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Prison Overcrowding

By yeni16 May 09, 2012 1209 Words
Prison Overcrowding

Prison overcrowding is become one of the major financial and controversial problem in the United States. The prison population is increasing rapidly, and we have only one reason the judicial system is given length sentences to cases that don’t deserve it, for example most of the offenders in the United State prison are drug cases, these sentences must be considered and most of the drug offenders should be put in rehabilitation centers instead of putting them in prison. According to the Supreme Court, “America’s prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980. A special report released by the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2007 predicts that the nation’s prison population will rise to more than 1.72 million by 2011” (Squidoo, 2012). From a comparative perspective, the number of people behind bars in the United States is striking. An even more recent report from the Pew notes “the United States incarcerated more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of china.” (Squidoo, 2012). The prison overcrowding is a result of many political, social and economic issues that we have in America today. There are so many problems that occur in the U.S. from overcrowded prisons. First, according to David Beck of the San Diego Union-Tribune, it costs approximately $62.05 to house a state or federal prisoner for one day. “The annual cost of incarcerating one inmate is over $22,000 and rising. The prison budget is $8.2 billion, and an additional $2 billion to $4 billion is needed to build out the overcrowding problem” (Beck, 2012). This is more money than the state spends on higher education. With prisons exceeding their limit, this is way over their budget and causes states to fall into debt. Prisons aren’t the only ones affected financially. Taxpayers suffer from this as well; we are the ones paying for this crisis. In my point of view, prison should be the house for the people who have committed more serious crimes like murder, rape, child mutilation, and kidnapping instead of incarcerated someone for a DUI. The money that the government is spending in the prison system could be money that the government can use to create more community programs that would rehabilitate and prepare people to integrate back to society again Also according to this statistics and the overcrowded prisons, “Correctional administrators and officers agree that crowded prisons result in greater tension, frustration, and anger among the inmate population, which leads to conflict and violence” said Harry G. Lappin. In 2008, one guard in California was murdered by two inmates while another guard in Indiana was brutally stabbed. Also, a 2006 report from the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported inmate-on-staff assaults increased 6 percent over the prior year (Federal Bureau of prison, 2012). All these problems are results from prison overcrowding, however something is causing the major problem. Most of the people think that putting all offenders in prison or jail is the best solution for all the problems; however this is not necessarily the case. “Politicians have this idea of locking up prisoners and throwing away the key to improve their ratings. They know that this is isn’t a good idea and contributes to overcrowded prisons, but it makes people vote for them because society thinks that putting all offenders in prison is the best thing to do” (Beck, 2012). Prison overcrowding in America is caused by a corrupt judicial system. Mandatory minimum sentences play a major role in the cause of prison overpopulation. The mandatory minimums were set up with the idea of capturing drug distribution networks; more than 80 percent of federal drug defendants are low-level sellers and drug mules. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, more than 80 percent of the increase in the federal prison population from 1985 to 1995 was because of drug convictions. Prison overcrowding is directly a result of those convicted of drug offenses. Room has to be constantly made for those non-violent criminals. These sentences must be considered and most of the drug offenders should be put in rehabilitation centers instead of putting them in prison. I believe that if the government create more rehabilitation centers and stop putting these types of offenders in jail we wouldn’t have prison overcrowding and they wouldn’t be spending so much money on the prisons. According to the U.S. Supreme Court one of the most overcrowded prisons in the America is in California. Overcrowding has led to conditions in California’s prisons horrendous. Justice Breyer, describe evidence of prisoners “found hanged to death in holding tanks where observation windows are obscure with smeared feces, and discovered catatonic in pools of their own urine after spending nights locked in small cages.” Federal Courts have found that an average of one inmate per week was dying in California prisons as a result of medical neglect or malfeasance. The prison health care system is so poor that the federal courts found it violates the constitutional rights of inmates. (Equal Justice Initiative, 2010) One my point of view, I believe that there are alternative solutions for prison overcrowding. We need to find a way to keep people out of jails in the first place and once they’re in, find a way to get them out in a reasonable time. Victimless crimes do not always need to be punished by putting people in jail. This will keep a lot of people out of prison. The legalization of marijuana, especially, will greatly reduce the prison populations, since the most of the offenders are charged and put in prison for drug cases. “About 85 percent of marijuana-related arrests are possession arrests. Every day, law enforcement officials waste their time and our tax dollars by arresting people merely for possessing the drug” (Equal Justice Initiative, 2010). However, most of the U.S. prisons are full with marijuana offenders, people who have never done anything to harm anyone else. If this people set free, there would be more space for dangerous, violent criminals like rapists, child molesters, murders, and such, who pose and actual threat to society. Also probation is used as an alternative to jail because it gives the offenders an opportunity to prove themselves and gives them a second chance. House arrest and electronic monitoring can be used as a substitute for jail as well. According to Vicent Como, Criminal Justice Professor, house arrest is sometimes criticized though because it seems to offer an easy way out of punishment. There are also ways to get out of prison in a reasonable time once they are in. Parole is a good alternative instead of having the offender max out. What about charging fines to those who have minor crimes instead of incarceration? The social work profession is founded to believe that people can change no matter their background or what they have done in their past. That’s why, with the proper service and support we can change offenders not but putting them in jail. The problem of prison overcrowding would decrease tremendously if we focused more on helping troubled individuals, rather than pointing our fingers at then and placing them in a long “Time Out”.

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