Prison Overcrowding Essay

3058 Words Mar 11th, 2013 13 Pages
Prison Overcrowding

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).
The fiscal effects of trying to support such a
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State taxes will increase because civil litigation regarding institutional burden is increasing. Since 1979 prisoner victims have been winning some substantial money damages ($380,000 in one case) from institutions being sued for breach of prisoners' federal civil rights under the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These suits are based upon a "failure to protect" together with "deliberate indifference" on the part of institution officials. This principle was first upheld for sexual assaults by the U.S. Supreme Court in Smith v. Wade (1983) and was further elaborated in Farmer.
We can see examples of overcrowded jails all over the US and even out of the US. "California's prison system, originally designed for 100,000 inmates, currently houses 173,000 inmates and has resorted to housing approximately 17,000 inmates in makeshift beds in locations like prison gymnasiums"(Smith, 2006). High government officials scrambled to find remedies to this problem (Camp, 2004).
A $8.3 billion dollar program to establish facilities to provide 53,000 new prison and prison beds were approved as an attempt to resolve the state's overcrowded prisons (Stewart, 2006).…