Prison Overcrowding

Essay by k9patrlUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2005

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Prison overcrowding is one of the largest problems facing the American criminal justice system today. Many people may think this issue does not affect them, but the problem becomes important when overcrowding forces prisoners to be granted early release. "In cases of extreme brutality, the sentence served by criminals can be short. Because prison space in the is tight, each offender can be accommodated only briefly. Prison overcrowding causes a controversy of positive and negative views concerning the construction of more prisons. In 2001, there were 1.4 million men and women incarcerated in state and federal correctional institutions. Due to many of these being recidivists, experts blame the lack of rehabilitation as a major reason in this increase. Another cause for overcrowding is that crime control strategies and legislative changes have favored longer sentences. These approaches have taken several forms that, when combined, have incarcerated people for longer times and less possibility for early release.

Many other factors such as new offenses, mandatory sentences, lengthening terms, and habitual offender laws, have added to prison overcrowding.

Overcrowding in the American prison system is a growing problem that we must tackle (Menninger). The tremendous increase in the prison population has resulted in continuous overcrowding the last two decades. Neither prison construction nor the availability of bed space to accommodate the growing prison population has kept pace. To fully understand how the previous mentioned changes have affected the overcrowding problem, we must look at the changes that have occurred.

Opponents claim that building more prisons will not solve the problem of prison overcrowding. They believe the money that would be put towards building more facilities could be used in alternative methods such as rehabilitation programs. Opponents feel that violent offenders could be locked up longer if non-violent criminals did not take up...