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Prison Overcrowding

4 Pages 1026 Words

The United States has the highest rate of imprisonment out of 15 countries, as high as 529 per 100,000 persons. At the conclusion of 2002, 2,166,260 people were being held in a United States prison, jail or juvenile correctional facility. This astoundingly high number has forced state prisons to operate at levels between 1% and 16% above capacity and federal prisons are at an even worse 33% over capacity (Beck, Harrison, 2003). “There is not a single prison in the United States that is under its maximum capacity. The prisons are either right at their maximum capacity or they are exceeding it.” (Will, 505) These facts have made it evident that the United States has reached a crisis in its criminal justice system that must be addressed. It has been made clear that there are number of contributing causes to this dilemma, but it is much more difficult to define a single, simple answer to the problem.
When analyzing the problem of prison overcrowding, possible solutions should be separated into two main categories, short and long term. Long term solutions are usually much more difficult to achieve and often must go through a lot of red tape before becoming a solution in practice, rather than thought. These solutions usually require long-term policy changes made by legislators and other high-level government officials. In contrast short term solutions are strategies that can be implemented by prison managers to reduce overcrowding and improve conditions of the overcrowded prisons. There may not be a single correct answer to the prison overcrowding issue; however if a number of long term and short term solutions are applied to our criminal justice system prison populations could be brought back to a reasonable and controllable level.

Short term solutions to the issue of prison overcrowding can be divided into four categories: reducing tension and the amount of time pri...

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