Prison_overcrowding_sample_essay

Prison_overcrowding_sample_essay - English 410 Research...

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English 410 Research Essay Prison Overcrowding in California The problem of prison overcrowding has a significant impact in many countries, and the United States is no exception. In fact, the US has only 5% of the world’s population but holds almost 25% of the world’s prisoners (Liptak, 2008). The implications of overcrowded prisons complicate the issue, and the causes are numerous. Overcrowded prisons make conditions worse, decreasing the chances of prisoner rehabilitation. Important issues concerning the causes of overcrowding prisons have to do with who is sent to prison and why as well as the lack of treatment programs for prisoners rehabilitation. Prison overcrowding is a problem that affects prisoners and society in various ways. With over 150,000 people in prison in California, housing these inmates is obviously a big and expensive task. According to Moore (2009) the alarming fact is that every prisoner costs tax payers an average of $43,000 a year, and $98,000 to $138,000 for a prisoner over 50. “It costs as much to house, feed and guard one prisoner for one year in a California state prison as tuition, meals and housing cost for a student enrolled for one academic year at Harvard” (Koppel, 2007). In 2009 state budget slashed funds for education and increased funds for jails. A major reform in the system is necessary in order to stop the cycle of imprisonment, mandatory sentencing and government funding need to be reviewed. Rigid laws as well as the failure to finance the appropriate programs “have left prisoners stacked three bunks high in prison gymnasiums and hallways throughout the state” (Moore, 2009) It is not hard to imagine that being stuck in a small cell all day for a long period of time with other criminals may not be the best way to reform a prisoner. “Many critics, including corrections officials, have viewed such overcrowded conditions as degrading and dehumanizing for inmates and contradictory to the current correctional reforms which emphasize maximizing the opportunities available to inmates” (Howard, 1996). It is hard enough for prisoners to try to reform themselves, and when they are put in horrible conditions including close quarters with other criminals, existing problems can be made worse or new problems can be created. “The impact on social relations and interaction has been considered one of the most important effects of prison overcrowding” (Howard, 2006). Because of the overcrowded conditions, inmates are often more exposed to suicide and violence. Psychiatric problems and illness are also connected to overcrowding. Perhaps the most significant effect of overcrowding is the fact that it perpetuates itself. All of the problems mentioned are made worse depending on the level and time period of overcrowding. The worse the conditions are, the more social and mental problems inmates are likely to have. Furthermore, overcrowded prisons make it more likely that inmates will return. As Charles Shaw discusses in ‘A Less Fashionable War (2005)’, problems with criminal society are
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