Better Ways To End Prison Overcrowding

1168 words - 5 pages

The U.S is only 5% of the world’s population and houses a quarter of its prison inmates; well over 2 million people. In the past decade the war on drugs has filled many state and federal prisons with a numerous amount of inmates. Building new prisons is not the answer to tackling the prison overcrowding dilemma. The U.S doesn’t have the money due to economic strains, and it will not solve this issue head on as needed. “California may be forced to release up to 33,000 prisoners by 2013” (Shapiro & Wizner, 2011, p.1.). Some women and men do not belong in prison, and should be given other opportunities to sought help. Prison overcrowding is a growing concern in the U.S today. There are many different alternatives to end prison overcrowding versus releasing them into the community. For example by launching a parole support group or treatment or rehabilitation programs for inmates as well as ex-offenders, house arrest or probation are other routes to explore.
“During the 1970’s and 1980’s mental hospitals had a fiscal crisis and thousands of people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses who had been institutionalized for years had been released by the courts. These individuals no longer met the standard for forcible incarceration because they were not dangerous or in need of supervisory treatment any longer. As a result a large amount of people with mental illnesses or were socially fragile were let go from hospitals lacking psychiatric and social work follow up, and many stopped taking their medications” (Shapiro & Wizner, 2011, p.2-3). In 2002, New York City along with New York’s mental health and parole supervision agencies based a nonprofit organization called Project Renewal. This program assisted ex-offenders that had mental illnesses transition back into the community. This alternative is a cheaper substitute to imprisonment. “It’s cost is about $23,000 annually per participant, less than half the $52,000 annual price tag for incarcerating an adult in the New York State Prison and a fraction of the $240,000 per patient per year cost at Central New York Psychiatric Center” (Shapiro & Wizner, 2011, p.3). The cost to the state goes away entirely for those who transition successfully. By establishing a more humane option to confinement, the recidivism rate will in return decrease as well as the price. “California has one of the nation’s highest recidivism rates. Nearly 58 percent of Californians released from prison are re-incarcerated within 3 years, compared with a national average about 43 percent” (Shapiro & Wizner, 2011, p.3). Offenders with a mental disability are not turned away, and are provided resources as well with this program. Housing, services and work opportunities are provided by highly trained parole officers, and counselors that are encouraging role models.
Along with “Project Renewal” community based programs such as rehabilitation for all inmates and ex-offenders should be provided. Most importantly this option is less...

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