Posted: February 21st, 2022
OVERCROWDING IN PRISONS
Overcrowding in prisons remains one of the problems facing many nations. The shift in criminal justice practices, laws, and policies contributed to the problem and sent many offenders to prison and kept them long. Drug offenses have contributed to an increased number of people being jailed. An increase in an average sentence has also led to an increase in incarceration in the world as the number of offenders grows.
Overcrowding in prisons is a problem caused by criminal justice policy and not the increased rates of crimes. Procedures such as keeping offenders on remand for an extended period before being judged, as well as an increase in jail sentencing terms, have led to overcrowding. This has undermined prison systems in providing basic human needs such as food, health care, clothing, and accommodation.
An increase in the incarceration rate is costly to people. Those with criminal convictions find it difficult to find a stable and decent-paying job. Time spent in jail could have been used in developing skills and education needed in today’s labor market. This affects the economy’s growth since many of the formerly incarcerated people have less education; hence finding a good-paying job is difficult.
Incarceration increases poverty for household members, including children and former inmates. Many inmates who are parents or partners find it difficult to support their families as imprisonment leaves them with fewer potential wage earners.
According to research done by Tara O’Neill Hayes, Margret Barnhorst; “The united states incarcerate 2.2 million people, nearly half of whom are non-violent drug offenders, accused people held pre-trial because they cannot afford their bail and others are arrested for failure to pay debts or fines for minor infractions. Poverty and excessive legal punishments contributes to united states’ high rate of imprisonment which has disproportionately affected low income and minority population.”
Apart from poverty, overcrowding is caused by issues such as drug use, recidivism, mental health, political laws and policies, homelessness, failure to pay child support, inability to pay fines, and social change. Many of those jailed are either convicted of drug use or selling drugs. Once found, they are incarcerated. Those who fail to pay their bail are held longer, thus increasing the rate of incarceration. Recidivism also has increased the rate of imprisonment. This is because once one is released from jail and lacks means of supporting oneself, he or she tends to repeat the same crime hence being jailed again. This has greatly increased the number of offenders in prisons. Mental health also affects the rate of incarceration. This is because mentally challenged victims tend to commit crimes that render them to life imprisonment. If not assisted, such people will continue facing problems of being jailed repeatedly. Another factor causing incarceration is homelessness. Some of those incarcerated, especially in Unites states, violate the law of homelessness. Such laws include bans on sleeping, sitting in public or vehicles, begging, and loitering. Some places even banned sharing food with homeless people. Breaking such rules has resulted in people being imprisoned. Failure to support their children has also led to many being jailed. This confirms that most policies set in the USA have increased the rate of incarceration and overcrowding of offenders in prisons. Therefore, there is a need to redraft the guidelines to reduce the number of offenses contributing to the high rate of imprisonment. Therefore, the high incarceration rate is a problem to stay if no action is taken to curb it. The following chapters have discussed the issue of incarceration, its causes, impacts, and measures to be taken to solve the problem.
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