Convicting, sentencing, and imprisoning are just the first few steps of reducing crime. All the effort, time, and money that go into keeping criminals locked up and off the streets are really for nothing in the end if he or she commits the same crime again after release. James Haley, who is the book editor of “Prisons” points out, “Every year, close to six hundred thousand inmates are released from state and federal prisons around the country. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, two-thirds of former convicts commit new crimes and one-half are re-incarcerated within three years of being released from prison” (138). Are US prisons truly effective when so many prisoners are committing new crimes upon release? It is for the better interests of American safety that some prisoners are locked up for life, but this should not include the constant return of re-offenders. The life of most convicts involves committing a crime and being sentenced to jail only to repeat the same process again. Many re-offenders see incarceration as a ticket to a place to sleep and food to eat.
As of 2015, 2.7% of adults in the United States were under correctional control, the lowest rate since 1994, however that is still roughly 6.7 million adults (Kaeble & Glaze, 2016). While the correctional population has declined, correctional facilities in the United States are still grossly overcrowded, with many facilities at or surpassing capacity. A report in 2010 by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation showed that on average, facilities were at 175% capacity (Brown, 2010). However, as of midnight on October 31st, 2017 the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported that their facilities, on average, were 132% occupied (Brown, 2017). Not only is prison overcrowding a burden on the facilities themselves, but also on the inmates. Prison overcrowding, that is, housing more inmates than the facility can humanely facilitate (Haney, 2006), places a strain on all resources throughout the correctional facility, including on the healthcare that’s offered, educational programs, and most dramatically on the physical space available to house inmates (Ekland-Olson, 1983).
In any given year now, incarceration rates has tripled with approximately 13 million people introduced to American jails in any given year. This increase in the prison population far outpaced the crime rate and the US population growth. Today, America has around 5% of the world’s population but a quarter of the world’s prison population.
Over the past few decades, the United States has witnessed a huge surge in the number of individuals in jail and in prison. Evidence suggests the mass imprisonment policy from the last 40 years was a horrible catastrophe. Putting more people in prison not only ruined lives, it disrupted families, prevented ex-prisoners to find housing, to get an education, or even a good job. Regrettably, the United States has a higher percent of its population incarcerated than any other country. America is responsible for a quarter of the world’s inmates, and its incarceration rate is increasing exponentially. The expense produced by these overcrowded prisons cost the country a substantial amount of money every year. Although people are incarcerated for a number of reasons, the country’s prisons are focused on punishment rather than reform, and the result is a misguided system that fails to rehabilitate criminals or discourage crime. By researching mass incarceration, I hope to get society to understand that incarcerating an individual not only effects the family, but we will look at the long term consequences on society and how the United States can remain safe and, at the same time, undo much of the damage that results from large-scale imprisonment.
The United States of America is phrased by many, as being “the land of the free.” Yet, the Unites States currently has the highest per capita prison population than any other country. The United States makes up only 5% of the world’s population and of that 5%, 25% of our overall nation’s population is currently incarcerated. A few factors that attribute to our high rates of incarceration include, sentencing laws: such as mandatory- minimum sentencing, lack of initial deterrence from crime, the war on drugs and the presence of recidivism. With our ever growing incarceration rates and the cost of housing individual offenders averaging $22,000 a criminal justice agenda. Recidivism refers to a person 's relapse into criminal behavior resulting in rearrests, reconviction or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the prisoner 's release (National Institute of Justice.) Many programs have been implemented in our prison system to help reduce the recidivism rates. Programs such as educational/ vocational programming, reentry programs, substance abuse programs and subsidized employment are among many programs in which have been proven effective. Yet, due to costs deficits, the clock is ticking to find evidence based programs to invest in. So, the question currently being sought after is, which method is most effective in reducing recidivism rates?
Prison Overcrowding: Prisons have become warehouses of human beings as opposed to institutions meant to provide a means to engage in restitution by delinquent individuals in society. “One necessary condition for rising incarceration rates has been the massive expansion in prison construction and capacity, without which prison populations could not have grown so dramatically” (Guetzkow & Schoon, 2015). As more prisons are being built, more delinquents are being incarcerated in order to fill them. “Prison facilities are filled 38 percent beyond rated capacity, with overcrowding being particularly acute in higher-security institutions” (Rowland, 2013).
In the past four decades, there has been a staggering increase in the United States prison population at the local and state level. Currently there are 2.2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails that has added up to a 500% increase over 40 years (The sentencing project). The cause of this prison growth is a variety of laws and punitive sentencing policies that were initiated starting in the early 1970’s. Policies such as harsh drug penalties for non-violent crimes, Mandatory Minimum Maximum sentences and the Three Strikes law have all contributed to America’s current problem of mass incarceration.
Over the past forty years the increased of mass incarceration within the Federal Bureau of Prisons has increased more than 700 percent since the 1970’s, between the different type of ethnicity. Billions of dollars have spent to house offenders and to maintain their everyday life from rehabilitation programs, academic education, vocational training, substance abuse programs and medical care. The cost of incarceration climbs according to the level of security based on violent and non-violent crimes. Fewer staff is required in minimum and medium-security prisons that house low-level offenders. Incarceration is likely to serves as one indicator of other co-occurring risks and vulnerabilities that makes families particularly fragile. Mass incarceration is likely to increase if awareness is not implicated to reduce the rate of imprisonment and broken families to take back their communities and reclaim their hope for the future.
Incarceration has been a pending issue amongst western civilization’s history for some time and today continues to raise a wide range of important questions. Incarceration of individuals have become a tremendous tax payer concern along with the incarceration of the drug war, convictions of street gangs, and the rest of the individuals who have broken the law and harmed other innocent individuals. However, the question is always a concern of men incarceration and hardly addressed of women being incarcerated. Not to say that what men can do women can do better, but studies have shown a drastic increase in women becoming incarcerated throughout a range of years. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures research on Children Of Incarcerated Parents by Steve Christian, a study by national survey had reported in August 2008, that during that time, the number of children with a mother in prison increased by 131 percent, from 63,900 to 147,400 (Christian, 2009). Society has always drawn its focus on convicts constantly trying to pin a wrong on an individual’s plate of life, but has never become curious to ask why an individual has become incarcerated and whom it has affected. The drastic increase of women becoming incarcerated have come from numerous of backgrounds in which their choices have led to affect their children as well as their children’s development and in addition affected their own development.
The United States has the largest prison population in the world. The U.S.’s path to our over population has been decades in the making. “The United States makes up about 4 percent of the world’s population, and it accounts for 22 percent of the world’s prison population.” (Lopez). Prison over population is a growing concern within our society creating and contributing factors include longer sentences, rising costs, prison gangs, rapes, racism and mental health issues.
Currently the United States holds the leading position for having the largest prison population in the world. Considering this, the cost of re-incarcerating offenders after their release remains notably high to U.S Americans and our society. Recidivism is known as the reimprisonment of an individual that is released from prison but then later returns for being convicted of a new crime. However, there is essential data that proves the drastic reduction in recidivism through academic and vocational studies. Each year, it cost twice as much to provide a room and food for inmates than it would just to educate these prisoners.
Within this paper, you will find a comprehensive review of the United States prison system, and why it needs to analyzed to better support and reform the people of this country. I plan to persuade the other side (politicians and society) into seeing that the way the prison system is now, is not ethical nor economical and it must change. We have one of the world’s largest prison population, but also a very high rate of recidivism. Recidivism is when the prisoners continuously return to prison without being reformed. They return for the same things that they were doing before. So, this leads us to ask what exactly are we doing wrong? When this happens, we as a nation must continuously pay to house and feed these inmates. The purpose of a prison needs to be examined so we can decide if we really are reforming our inmates, or just continuing a vicious cycle. What is the true purpose of prison besides just holding them in a cell? There must be more we can do for these hopeless members of society.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a massive amount of inmates began fillin up the United States prison systems. This huge rate of growth in this short amount of time, has greatly contributed to the prison overcrowding that the United States faces today. In fact, the prisons are still filled to the seams. This enormous flood of inmates has made it practically impossible for prison officials to keep up with their facilities and supervise their inmates. One of the main reasons why many prisons have become overcrowded is because of states’ harsh criminal laws and parole practices (Cohen). “One in every 100 American adults is behind bars, the highest incarceration rate in the world” (Cohen). The amount of inmates in corrections systems, throughout the
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).