- June 16, 2020
Reducing the High Number of Inmates in the US Prison System
Reducingthe High Number of Inmates in the US Prison System
The prison system has seen a rise in the number of the inmates in therecent past. The current statistics reveal that around 2,220,300adults are serving different sentences in the state and federalprisons around the nation. The high number has resulted inovercrowding has minimized the resources, and the inmates are forcedto share the few facilities they have. The large crowds even createroom for illegal activities such as the movement of the contrabands.Besides that, the government spends a huge amount of the taxpayers’funds on a single prisoner in a year, and that shows how billions ofmoney has to be invested in such programs. Instead, the prison systemhas turned out to be more expensive than healthcare and educationtoo. Hence, the government needs to restructure its priorities andfind a cheaper way of dealing with the high number of inmates in theprisons. For instance, the government should consider the communitycorrection programs that will assist in reducing the number ofprisoners. The initiative will offer the parole and probationopportunities for the non-violent offenders and the others that mighthave minor offenses such as drug abuse. More important, it willprovide the vocational training, rehab facilities, counseling as wellas the therapeutic intervention that is important in improving theirlives. The community correction programs are also cheaper, and theywill save a huge amount of the taxpayer’s money that can be used toimprove other sectors such as healthcare and education. In fact,Wisconsin has implemented the community correction successfully, andthe state has reduced the spending on the prisons by about 70%. Ithas also reduced recidivism, and that justifies how effective theprogram can be. This essay will reveal how the high number of inmatesneeds billions of dollars that come from the taxpayers’ funds, yet,the government can reduce the prisoners through the communitycorrection initiatives that are cheaper.
The high number of inmates in the prisons has resulted inovercrowding and the inability to provide appropriate services thatwill support them. Instead, the government has been forced tostruggle with the issues to do with the spread of infections and thecontrabands moving easily within the cells. For instance, a largecrowd is often a place that supports a broad range of illegalactivities. In the process, most of the inmates have to share most ofthe resources that will be available for a reduced amount. In thiscase, they will have less food and other aspects such as the rooms,beds and the recreational facilities that they need (Henrichson &Delaney, 72). The scenario will also increase the chances of conflictbetween various groups since everyone to control enough resources.Besides that, most of the inmates will even lack opportunities wherethey can engage in some rehabilitative programs that are known toimprove their lives. For instance, the vocational training or evenacademic opportunities will be much fewer, and that will bedetrimental in the improvement of the inmates’ well-being. Moreimportant, the self-improvement initiatives often strive in creatingresponsible people that will be able to create a better environment(Henrichson & Delaney, 69). Hence, the absence of suchopportunities often makes things much worse since the inmates willhave nothing to offer the society when they get out. As a result,overcrowding is a severe problem that the government needs to addressto make sure that the inmates are safe. The high numbers of theinmates will also reduce the rate of work opportunities, and thatwill result in more idleness. The scenario will breed some violentbehavior among the prisoners that will engage such activities becauseof the huge amount of time they have.
The high number of prisoners has also been a huge burden to thetaxpayers that support the inmates. More important, the prisons tendto have a various monetary needs to cater for their food, clothing,and shelter too. In this case, each inmate often requires $47,000that will be used in supporting them in an entire year (Henrichson &Delaney, 73). In the year 2013, around 2,220,300 adults were lockedin the American federal as well as the state prisons. The statisticsshow that the government often spends billions of dollars in a yearthat supports the prisoners. The fact that the money is taken fromthe taxpayers’ funds make the scenario more frustrating since thefunds might be invested in other productive areas. For instance, thegovernment spends around $9100 on a student in one year (Henrichson &Delaney, 71). The numbers capture the irony and it reveals how thegovernment has misplaced its priorities since the prison system hasturned out to be more expensive than the school system. In reality,the taxpayers’ funds that were placed in the prisons can beinvested in other productive ventures such as healthcare andeducation. Instead, the prison system ends up taking a huge amount offunds. In this case, the taxpayers’ funds are crucial, and theyshould be placed on other parts of the economy that will still helpeveryone. However, the high number of prisoners means that thegovernment will keep spending more funds while other fields such aseducation and healthcare keep suffering. For instance, the schoolslack enough facilities and have unqualified teachers, a scenario thathas undermined their performance. Perhaps, reducing the number ofinmates will minimize the amount of funds that is invested in thesystem.
A number of legislations have led to the high number of the inmatesin the US prison system. In particular, President Nixon’s War onDrugs is known to explore the various people that had engaged in thetrade. The policy managed to identify some people that were involvedin the drug dealings, and most of them were arrested resulting in thehigh number of prisoners. The California’s Uniform DeterminateSentencing Law of 1976 is another one that discouraged the parolesthat helped in reducing the inmates (Cole, 15). In this case, theprisoners were unable to ask for the probation since the governmenthad decided that criminals incarcerated for certain offenses had toserve particular years before they were eligible for suchopportunities. In the process, the prisons ended up having moreinmates since they had to serve their sentences. Besides that, theThree Strikes Law of 1994 has led to the state of California haslocked an inmate for life if he or she has committed three offensesin a row (Cole, 18). The law does not consider the severity of thespecific crimes as long as they have occurred three times in thepast. The legislation has led to the numbers in prison being muchhigher than expected. Some of these policies even if they apply toparticular states reveal why the inmates are more. Instead, it showsthat the government has the authority to reduce the number since theyare the ones that have created the scenario. The large number ofpeople in the prisons is a problem to the government and thetaxpayers that have to set aside enough funds to cater for theinmates’ needs.
The government might offer community correction as a way of reducingthe number of inmates that had committed minor offenses and ensuringthat the population is managed. In this case, the prison system hasincarcerated people that had engaged in crimes such as the trafficoffenses and other misdemeanors. In fact, 50% of most prison systemsentail of the inmates that had committed drug offenses, and suchpeople will benefit greatly from the community correction (Fisher,74). Apart from that, about 60% are people that had engaged in thenon-violent cases, and the group might benefit from the counseling aswell as some positive behavior intervention. More important, it willalso reduce the number of the inmates that have been locked in thesystem. However, the government needs to invest more funds towardsthe community correction services to ensure that they will be muchmore efficient than they are currently. In this case, the fact thatthey will receive a large number of inmates shows the need to improvethe facilities and the other aspects. For instance, the governmentmight be forced to employ more correctional officers that will dealwith the high number of inmates that will be diverted back to theprison system (Fisher, 79). Besides that, they should acquire moretechnological facilities that will help in monitoring the location ofthe released inmates. Some of them might contemplate the idea ofescaping, and the government needs to look at their behaviors to makesure that they comply with the required legislations and guidelines.Improving the institution will be the most appropriate way ofensuring that the agency works as expected. The government shouldalso establish other rehabilitation programs that will help theinmates in acquiring the skills and knowledge that they might need inthe outside world.
The community correction programs often provide an opportunity forthe vocational training and the drug addicts can find the medical andthe therapeutic intervention. More importantly, the solutions will bemuch efficient in reducing the challenges that the inmates have beenfacing. In fact, some of the prisons are known to have insufficientfacilities that they might use for medical purposes and treat theinmates (Fisher, 74). The addicts might even fail to get the propertherapeutic intervention that will reduce the compilations that theymight be experiencing. Their condition might even deteriorate if thepatients are in prison. However, the rehab and the presence of enoughprofessionals tend to help the addicts and shape them to beresponsible people in the society. At the same time, they might getenough medication that will restore their proper body functioning andmake sure that they will no longer have difficulties dealing with thevarious challenges (Fisher, 81). In this case, the vocationaltraining is also a program where they will ensure that the inmatesget skills that will help them in getting the required experience. Inparticular, they will also get a chance to work in other organizationwhile they are still on parole or probation. In return, they willearn enough money and cater for the basic needs that their familieswill be facing at that particular time. Hence, the inmate’s familywill benefit from the way that he or she will be serving the sentencewhile undertaking various economic activities that will benefit thefamily. The scenario justifies how important the program is indealing with the high population in the prison system and helpingthem create a better life. In summary, the implementation of the planin most states will aid in saving the taxpayers’ funds and using itin other productive ventures.
Kate Lind and J. D. July have proved that the community correctionworks efficiently and they use the example of Wisconsin to show howit works. More specifically, they have revealed that around“Wisconsin currently houses 22,212 inmates in its state prisons”.On the other hand, nearly “71,407 offenders are on [. . .] eitherprobation or parole” (Lind & July, 4). The scenario shows thatthe state has tried to make the technique more efficient, and that iswhy it is able to house a large number of inmates successfully. Infact, the two authors reveal that it is more likely that thecommunity correction will “reduce recidivism by 10%-20%” (Lind &July, 6). They will achieve the approach by providing enough programsthat will support their activities after they have been released. Inthis case, the successful implementation of the project in Wisconsinshows that it can be initiated anywhere as long as the governmentmakes the proper changes that will improve its outlook. In mostcases, the goal of rehabilitation is ensuring that the criminalsignore the criminal activities and they find other productiveventures. Hence, the fact that the community correction initiativewill be able to minimize the rate of recidivism shows the progressthey will make and how the society will benefit from the same. Thetwo authors also insist that community correction “could saveWisconsin taxpayers an average [. . .] of nearly $70 million inincarceration costs” (Lind & July, 12). Right from thebeginning, the high number of inmates was a problem because they tooka huge amount of funds from the civilians. Hence, the reduction thatwill arise from the implementation of the program shows that otherstates might benefit if they use the community correction approach inreducing the number of the inmates in most of the state prisons.
In conclusion, the community correction is an important solution tothe high number of inmates in the prison system and the immenseamount of dollars needed to settle their expenses. In particular, theovercrowding has facilitated multiple problems in the prisons, andthe taxpayers have to give a certain amount of their funds to thesystem. On the other hand, the sectors such as the healthcare andeducation are facing various challenges because of the lower amountsthey get. Instead, reducing the number of the prisoners will help incontrolling the amount of money needed to support them. In fact,community correction is one of the alternatives that will assist inreducing the inmates. More important, it offers the parole andprobation opportunities, and empower the officers that will monitorthe activities of the prisoners. The program will ensure that theyengage in community work, participate in rehab initiatives,counseling as well as therapy that will help them deal with theirvarious challenges. Besides that, it will be cheaper than the prisonsystem that siphons huge amount of the taxpayers’ funds. Using itwill reduce the budget, and increase the resources placed oneducation and health care that will improve the lives of thecivilians. In this case, Wisconsin has been able to implement theprogram, and it has been successful so far. They have been able toreduce the expenses by 70% and minimized recidivism too. Its successin the state also shows that the government might implement it sinceit will have multiple benefits to the society instead.
Cole,David. "Turning the Corner on Mass Incarceration?." OhioState Journal of Criminal Law 9(2011): 11-141.
Fisher,Shawn. "Mass Incarceration: The Further Compromise of PublicSafety." Journalof Prisoners on Prisons 23.2(2014): 71-83.
Henrichson, Christian, and Ruth Delaney. "The price of prisons:What incarceration costs taxpayers." Federal SentencingReporter 25.1 (2012): 68-80.
Lind, Kate, and J. D. July. "Stopping the revolving door: reformof community corrections in Wisconsin." The Wisconsin PolicyResearch Institute (2011): 1-28.