University of Phoenix Criminal Justice Administration CJA 453 Juan Campos February 5, 2009War on Drugs and Prison Overcrowding Prison overcrowding is a major problem1in our criminal justice system and it continues to bea hotly debated topic as to how we should address the problem. One of the main reasons our prison systems have a problem with overcrowding is drugs. More specifically, the "war on drugs" started by President Reagan in 1982 brought a dramatic increase1to the number of people put behind barsfor drug offenses.
1Mandatory minimum sentencing and truth in sentencingare two policies which have sent drug offenders to prison and kept them there for longer periods of time. The continuing campaign against drugs has apprehended hundreds of thousands of suspects who spend millions on drugs but the cost to incarcerate these non-violent offenders exceeds billions of dollars and much of that money is coming from the taxpayers' pockets.
One way to address this problem is to reverse the current trend of putting first time, non-violent drug offenders in prison and instead sentence these offenders to boot camp and counseling combined with family support. Today's corrections systems often make offenders worse, along with raising the recidivism rates. America needs more then a new system, but a new way of thinking. Reformation or rehabilitation is not something that can be imposed or forced, on another; it cannot be created in the individual offender by the burden of external measures. Prisons in America have been portrayed to be places for reform and rehabilitation; places where criminals belong so that society can be safe. Yet studies and statistics have yielded such an image to be an illusion. With roughly 40% of the world's prisoners incarcerated in the United States, we just may have to re-think our current systems (Bureau of Justice Statistics,