Overcrowded Prisons Essay

999 words - 4 pages

- -Many prisons throughout the United States have been experiencing the problem of overcrowdedness. This is not a new issue though, in April of 1978 New York State was already feeling the affect of crowded prisons. In an attempt to alleviate the problem the state tried to buy Richers Island from New York City. Since then a rise in population and in poverty have increased the problem and the government has been think of solutions ever since. The main problem was coming up with programs that kept criminals off the streets without overpopulating the prisons. One example of how the government tried to make the streets safer was by imposing mandatory minimum sentences. They were designed to put people behind bars that until then were being released with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The problem began when they realized that although less criminals were on the streets there were also more in prison which took up space for new prisoners, who in some cases should be there before the ones that were already inhabiting the jail. There have been many new experimental programs in which the government is trying to keep the prison population down. Some of these have proved to be very successful while others have failed. Although not everybody agrees on what the solution they do agree that something has to be changed.Although many agree that mandatory minimum sentences are out dated and should not be imposed any longer, there are those who approve and support them. Those in favor of them have two strong reasons for there beliefs. First, they believe that the sentences act as a deterrent to possible criminals. The sentences are especially aimed at drug related crimes. The idea was to deter people, especially teens, from looking to make some money in the drug business by weighing it against the jail time they would receive if the were caught. This also directly makes the streets safer by scaring people away from a life of crime. Another argument people have in favor of the sentencing is it speeds up the legal process. Because many of the crimes are misdemeanors, there are no criminal trials. Therefore, when a person is convicted they go straight to jail without having to wait for a sentencing date. Also, with mandatory minimum sentencing there is no chance of a plea bargain.The argument against mandatory minimum sentencing is , however, as strong as the argument against them. The main reason against this type of sentencing is what I spoke of in the introduction, overcrowded prisons. In a time when overcrowding in becoming a very major problem in prisons things like mandatory minimums only add to the problem. Judges are forced to put certain people away for a set amount of time regardless of there past record. In theory, a...

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