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Is Prison Overcrowding Fixable? Essay

2098 words - 8 pages

No one knows exactly when criminal law and corrections began in human society. However, it probably would have occurred at the point in social evolution when collective vengeance was first substituted for private vengeance. That is, people realized that feuding was costing the group too much in terms of injuries and lives, and some individual’s behavior was first imagined to be harmful to the group as a whole. The entire group, or the leader(s) acting for the group, took action against the offender. (Stanko 25)
The idea of prison has been around for thousands of years and seems to be an integrated part of the human concept. We remove the people that disrupt society and we put them away or get rid of them. We, as a modern culture, want things to run smoothly. Getting in the way of that will cause individuals to be noticed and processed by the system.
The prison system has shaped the modern world and helped to create the society we have today. We feel safer and, especially in the United States, we are freer and can keep our sense of freedom because we feel safe enough to do what we want. The prisons systems have set up their own methods of keeping the small world of the prison in control. They have created their own rules, and regulations to keep the system running smoothly. “Further, the National Prison Association (NPA)—forerunner of the American Correctional Association (ACA)—already had been in existence for three decades, providing a valuable professional forum for prison officials to meet, share ideas and advocate solutions” (Herman 50). It is essential that these systems keep constant control of the situation inside the prisons. The control that they put over the prisons not only needs to be maintained, but needs to be applied and improved for the future security of the personnel as well as the prisoners. As time goes on, those in charge need to start looking into how the populations of their prisons can continue to be controlled. As a population evolves, and moves forward, so do those who choose to defect from the accepted standards that a society has in place. This evolution of the population needs to be compensated for in the prison systems by adding new rules and regulations.
What brought the prisons to this overcrowded situation requiring so much focus on control? Drug-related offenses, repeated traffic violations, and incarceration for fines and fees not paid are just a few of the examples of the reasons non-violent prisoners are contributing to overcrowding. Another portion of the problem is that the sentencing of people is controlled by a large group. “All of these commissions have some degree of legislative support, although Virginia’s is located entirely within the judicial branch. Most sentencing commissions are broadly representative, including a mix of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, correctional officials, public members, and sometimes legislators” (Torney 13). These groups are helping to keep...

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