The Cell Door Slams Shut

2636 WordsDec 7, 201411 Pages
Melissa Shambach Flannery AP Lang/Green 2 5 December 2014 Mass Incarceration Clang! The cell door slams shut. An ominous sound that has been heard by millions of people; more and more every day. In the United States, one in every one hundred forty people is currently incarcerated (Walmsley). Not many people have a concept of this rate. Is this normal? Certainly not. When compared to the rest of the world, the U.S “...has about five percent of the world’s population and houses around 25 percent of its prisoners” (Holland). Truly, it is quite astonishing that one country holds a quarter of the worlds prisoners. It was not always this way, so how did this come to be? The criminal justice system changed drastically around 1970s as the…show more content…
Any action that can help should be taken. In the United States, mass incarceration is creating more problems than it is solving, and can be remedied through alternative rehabilitation and the revision of sentencing for minor offenses. Mass incarceration has caused major problems in the United States. . Economically, it is incredibly expensive. The cost averages out to around $100,000 per prisoner per year (Schwirtz). This is a huge sum. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the “...federal, state, and local governments spent about $75 billion on corrections…” in 2008 alone (Schmitt, Warner, and Gupta). To put this into perspective, that is three times the amount of money spent by the Department of Transportation (U.S Gov. Printing Office). It is clear that the United States cares deeply about the safety of its citizens and justice for criminals.Obviously this is extremely important, and is the responsibility of the government. However, mass incarceration can only be justified if it is actually making our country a safer place and is reducing crime. Unfortunately this is not the case. The correlation between higher incarceration and lower crime rates is quite small (Wyler). If prison populations were reduced, crime would not run rampant. In fact, New York, New Jersey, and California have all worked over the last fifteen years or so “...have reduced their prison populations by about 25% while
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