Essay on Prison Growth In American From 1970-2008

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Why has there been a massive growth of the prison industry in America since the 1970's?

Since the 1970's there has been a steady increase in the prison population where statistics now show from the BJS that more than one in every 100 adults are now imprisoned. Statistics from the "PEW" state that one in 30 men between the ages of 20-34 are behind bars; however just because there is an increase in the numbers it does not mean it's due to an increase in crime. To further emphasize just how significant the growth is, the population in 1970 was around 300,000 but now the population in 2008 is over 2.3 million (BJS 2006). However there is not necessarily a parallel increase with crime; instead experts are putting the growth down to popular
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The government has tried to battle this rise in the prisons by imposing larger sentences to act as a deterrent and other policies which are known as the "broken window". They have introduced the "three strike" policy which means that if you are convicted of any 3 offences you will receive life which is a very good deterrent as Virginia applies this a lot of the time and has managed to slow the growth of the population (Bratton 2002). The government are trying to impose other punishments such as rehabilitation for drug offenders and thinking about legalising drugs because when the prohibition on alcohol ended statistics taken from "ACS" indicate that crime actually went down. All of these ideas however have not seemed to affect the general trend of the growing prison industry.

In Texas the prison industry there faced a 300% increase from 1970 to 2006 forcing a major expansion in the actually prisons. Instead of paying over 500 million dollars Texas decided to authorise a makeover of the prisons introducing drug treatments and diversion beds. By authorising this it meant that there was a huge demand in the market for new treatments and equipment which meant companies could now compete in this market. Consequently by Texas authorising this it meant that there was a sudden boost in the interest in the prison industry (John Moritz 2007). TX State Rep. Jerry Madden said that "It's far better for our society if we can…