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Overpopulation Of Prisons Essay

1120 words - 5 pages

For the past thirty years, the prison population has increased substantially. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has documented that its population has increased 60 percent since the year 2000. Increases in inmate population are causing many prisons throughout the United States to operate over maximum capacity. Several jails throughout the United States have experienced protests due to overcrowding conditions. Many theories argue the reason of overcrowding and possible solutions. It is not my intention to prove why the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and jails like Metropolitan Dentation Center (MDC) are overcrowded, but rather how the over populated facilities affect inmates, corrections officers, and the taxpayer.
In New Mexico there is currently a suit known as the McClendon lawsuit. This lawsuit accuses the Bernalillo County Dentition Center, now known as the Metropolitan Dentition Center (MDC), of violations regarding inmate constitutional rights due to conditions of overcrowding and unsafe living conditions. This lawsuit was filed in 1995 and still remains in litigation today. This lawsuit claims that inmates at the jail were denied adequate health care, safe housing, and proper sanitation facilities. MDC is not the only jail that experiences overcrowding. Many states are currently being sued by inmates for dire conditions at the facilities they were incarcerated. The increase in lawsuits file has made it necessary for the government to pass and sign the Prison Reform Litigation Act (PLRA) on April 26, 1996. The PLRA weeds out frivolous lawsuits that would otherwise take up time and money.
In an article by Matthew Rowland, “Prison cells are double- and triple-bunked, making it more likely that some inmate misconduct will go undetected and jeopardizing the safety of inmates and staff alike” (Rowland, 2013). When inmates are forced to live in such strict confinement, violent behaviors erupt. The result is more inmates are placed in solitary confinement as a consequence of bad behavior. While spending time in prison Jimmy Santiago Baca describes how he felt in solitary confinement “Before long I was frayed like a rope carrying too much weight, that suddenly snaps. I quit talking…My life had compressed itself into an unbearable dread of being….where the pain is too intense, and he knows he is changed forever” (Baca, 2010). Recently in a California prison, inmates went on a hunger strike to protest what they felt was excessive use of solitary. On February 2, 1980 inmates in a Santa Fe prison located in New Mexico started a riot in protest of living conditions due to overcrowding. Many inmates and corrections officers were injured and 33 inmates were killed. Prisons offer numerous programs and services. Drug treatment, education, and programs that teach job trade experience offered to inmates are forced to deal with the increase in population by limiting the number of services provided and even placing inmates on waitlists for programs. Due to lack of...

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