U.S. Prison Costs

Topics: United States, Prison, U.S. state Pages: 4 (1619 words) Published: July 1, 2010
U.S. Prison Costs

After reading the essay, “A Homemade Education,” an autobiography of Malcolm X, I became quite curious about how many dollars America spends toward the prison system and how it affects our society. The autobiography itself covers how Malcolm X gained a homemade education simply by reading books while serving time in prison. He claimed, “I don’t think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did…prison enabled me to study far more intensively…sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day” (35). There may be privileges of being sent to prison as one can sit and read books, but the cost of keeping prisons running outweighs the benefits. According to the article Pew Center, the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 23.6 percent of the world’s prison population. It has the highest documented incarceration rate and the largest prison population. Today, the annual cost to feed and house prisoners is now over $65 billion this year. Prison costs are now playing a major negative role in our nation. Prisons are plagued by fiscal problems as well as graying population; however, our educational system could be used as a preventive, and shortened terms could be offered as an incentive to motivated inmates. One of the major costs that make the prison system too expensive is the cost of health care within the prison. All states are forced to provide the same level of medical care that generally meets a community standard. Many of our prisons hold more inmates than they were designed to hold. For example, California’s 33 prisons have a total of 100,000, but they hold 170,000 inmates (Pew Center). Therefore in a crowded prison environment, diseases are a particular concern. One of the life-threatening diseases which is the biggest worry is Hepatitis C. Acording to the Pew Center, which was launched in 2006 to help solve today’s most challenging problems, Hepatitis C costs $30,000 per inmate annually for treatment. Other...
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