Prison overcrowding

Overcrowding in United States Prisons State prison overcrowding has become a very detrimental problem over the last few decades. After being overlooked for so long, what we are left with is an ineffective correctional system that needs reformation. The problem has been growing, possibly even since the first correctional facility was created. As cities started to grow, there needed to be more laws. Along with more laws came more offenders. Even though prison is designed to punish criminals, it often causes the underlying goal of rehabilitation to be neglected.In the nineteenth century, the legal system introduced hinges such as probation, indeterminate sentencing, and parole.

The intention was to rehabilitate and reform the offenders, but it was too hard to implement. Probation and parole violations also added to the overcrowding problem. A large number of prisons were built or expanded in the sass, which helped to create Jobs during the Great Depression.

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However, building more prisons only expanded a failing system.Over time, it Just increased operating costs and the cost of housing each prisoner. By the sass, the “war on drugs” brought another time period of increased imprisonment. Politicians used “ridding neighborhoods of dangerous drug use” to gain support and votes. Americans supported this, and there was a huge wave of nonviolent criminals into correctional facilities nationwide. No significant reformation has been made to the penal system since the seventies, which shows it truly is an overlooked issue.

Today, the “war on drugs” continues, with an unprecedented number of low level criminals incarcerated. Not only is this a major cause of the overpopulation, but these prisons are not living up to their original purpose. The justice system intends to protect society from these criminals, most of which are not ungenerous. It would not be such a problem if the average cost to house one prisoner wasn’t $26,000 a year, with some states being much higher. With no other option, some prisons are being ordered to release inmates.In May 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that California had to release over 30,000 prisoners, because the overcrowding was so bad. Californians prison system was designed for a capacity of 80,000 inmates.

At the time of the ruling, the population was over twice that. The Supreme Court decided that the condition of the prisons was a violation of the Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. It is clear that the overcrowding problem is not going to be solved by continuing with the same tactics.The first step is to reform policies on drug offenses and other nonviolent crimes. Higher fines, community service, or rehabilitation programs are all options. When it comes to offenders that still need to be monitored, it is still possible through house arrest or of criminals who end up being repeat offenders. Overall, this would reduce the cost to taxpayers as well.

Overcrowding is a problem that needs to be solved at the root, by reforming the circumstances and behavior of offenders from the beginning.