The Growth of Adult Corrections in the United States

Topics: Prison, Crime, Penology Pages: 4 (1475 words) Published: November 3, 2013
The United States is made up of five percent of the world's population, but is comprised of about a quarter of the worlds incarcerated. Approximately twenty percent of the newly incarcerated yearly have violated parole and great majorities are non-violent offenders. In “U.S. Prison Population Dwarfs that of Other Nations,” Adam Liptak states “The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College London.” Americans are arrested for things as minor as using drugs or writing a bad check. Residing someone to a prison should be our last alternative because it’s costly and can raise risk for future criminal behavior. Yet, even as the crime rates dwindle, prisons are still overcrowded. State and local governments approved hard-hitting crime legislation during the late 1980s and early 1990s. For instance, California established the “three strikes and you’re out” law which required a set sentence of recurring prisoners, and New York implemented the “Broken Windows” policy that allowed for the detainment and trial of all crimes big and small. Guidelines such as these led to a reduction in the numbers as far as crimes committed, but the jail and prison populations numbers climbed. While obligatory sentencing laws are being agreed upon, laws criminalizing a growing number of behaviors are also being passed. The result is that, not only are judges required to send people to prison in cases where it might not be needed, but they are required to do so because there are more activities which come with set sentences than ever before. The overcrowding in California was so bad the Supreme Court acknowledged it to be brutal and abnormal punishment and prepared the state to cut its prison population. Prison overpopulation is a dilemma that can, and should be not be permitted. One of the ways to prevent prison overcrowding is by not sentencing...

References: Liptak, A. (2008, April 23). “U. S. Population dwarfs that of other Nations.” New York Times.
Retrieved from
Silas, F. A. (1983). Lock ‘Em Up? There’s No More Room! American Bar Association Journal,
69 (10), 1351.
Webb, J. (2009, March 29). “Why We Must Fix Our Prisons. Parade. Retrieved from
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