Prison Overcrowding Essay

2380 words - 10 pages

In the 1970s and 1980s, a massive amount of inmates began fillin up the United States prison systems. This huge rate of growth in this short amount of time, has greatly contributed to the prison overcrowding that the United States faces today. In fact, the prisons are still filled to the seams. This enormous flood of inmates has made it practically impossible for prison officials to keep up with their facilities and supervise their inmates. One of the main reasons why many prisons have become overcrowded is because of states’ harsh criminal laws and parole practices (Cohen). “One in every 100 American adults is behind bars, the highest incarceration rate in the world” (Cohen). The amount of inmates in corrections systems, throughout the nation, sky-rocketed to 708 percent between 1972 and 2008. Today, there are about 145,000 inmates occupying areas only designed for 80,000 (Posner). Peter Mosko, “an assistant professor of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice” (Frazier) stated, “America, with 2.3 million people behind bars, has more prisoners than soldiers” (Frazier). There have been studies that have shown “there are more men and women in prison than ever before. The number of inmates grew by an average of 1,600 a week. The U. S. has the highest rate of crime in the world” (Clark). Because of this influx in inmates, many prisoners’ rights groups have filed lawsuits charging that “overcrowded prisons violate the Constitution’s 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment” (Clark). It is clear that the United States corrections system needs to be reformed in order to eliminate this problem. Prison overcrowding is a serious issue in society due to the fact it affects prison organizational stability, inmate health and behavior, and the housing space and resources available.
Prison overcrowding has affected numerous subjects in the corrections system. One major problem of prison overcrowding is the effect it has on prison organizational stability. The more prisoners and people put in jail have made it harder for prison guards and staff to monitor and control them. The entire prison system must make enormous changes in order to accommodate for the number of inmates versus the number of prison guards (O’Leary). This often results in a misclassification of offenders. Many who come through the system are classified based on the amount of space available instead of on the security level and programs that would be most suitable for them (Howard). “It is not uncommon to find inmates, classified as medium security, incarcerated in maximum security institutions, while other inmates are in medium security who were previously considered candidates for maximum security” (Howard). Misclassifying offenders often leads to “slow progress through the corrections system as well as a slow exit” (Howard). This in turn only prolongs and increases the overcrowding problem (Howard). The corrections programs...

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