The Complications Brought by Prison Overcrowding

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The US has a mass incarceration problem, compared to the Netherlands ratio of 82 inmates to 100,000 residents, America has 716 inmates to 100,000 residents. Mass incarceration is the overcrowding of prisons, in America’s case, due to a poor court system. This poorly run system in the US costs taxpayers money and increases reoffenses. The hashtag prisonreform brings awareness to falsely accused inmates, inmates given harsh sentences, and the conflicts it gives other citizens. Mass incarceration refers to the chaotic number of people in prison, America has a problem with this due to a poorly ran judiciary system and #prisonreform is bringing awareness to the absurd amount of people incarcerated along with how we can solve this.

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First, the phrase mass incarceration explains the chaotic, odd method the US uses to imprison criminals. The US philosophy of putting the hammer down on crime led to a jail cell being the first option for criminals. The weirdest aspect of the prison system is locking up nonviolent criminals, rather than getting them help. Daniel Nott, author of “What Is Mass Incarceration”, states, “over the past 30 years, the US has put in place radical, unprecedented policies and practices that attempted to address crime through prioritizing harsh and disproportionate punishment, rather than prevention or rehabilitation” (Nott).The quote explains how the US is at fault for this issue and without the prison cell being the first option, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Along with this, it shows other methods we could use, such as rehab over prison. Also, it isn’t an unknown issue and America chooses not to make change. Nott also expresses, “Within the last few years, both Democrats and Republicans seem to be acknowledging the need for reform” (Nott). This addresses how the public is aware of these problems and the fact they need fixing. It also shows the US’s neglect to address or confront these problems. In general, mass incarceration is the overcrowding of prisons based on America’s poorly ran judiciary system, and the US isn’t making change.

Next, the US is horrible at handling incarceration compared to other countries, as we focus on isolation from society, they focus on resocialization. Where European countries send people with drug offenses to rehab, the US throws them in a jail cell, leading to more criminal relapses. Writer of “Why America has a Mass Incarceration Problem and Germany and the Netherlands Don’t” Mike Riggs explains, “Because both Germany and the Netherlands end up incarcerating only a small percentage of offenders, they’re actually able to enroll prisoners in rehabilitation, which increases their chances of not returning to crime” (Riggs). This shows America’s poor ability to limit reoffenders. It also shows how and why America should use other, more beneficial options such as rehabilitation. Secondly, these European countries have more liveable prisons, fines are more likely than sentencing, and if they do sentence it is usually shorter than here in America. Riggs also explains, “America basically has a dog-pile system. We give offenders time behind bars and probation and court costs and fines, while drastically reducing their opportunities for legal employment” (Riggs). This explains how the US makes it harder to have a successful, crime free life after prison. Along with this it also shows the hole freshly released prisoners are put in once released due to the costs of being arrested. Overall, the US makes it much harder for prisoners to have a stable life after prison, if they don’t go back to crime.

Lastly, prison rates are obviously way too high, but how do we solve this? We can start with pretrial release and split-sentencing. Split-sentencing would not just decrease the amount of prison inmates, but also save some people from reoffending. Author Lee Simmons, writer of “How to Fix Overcrowded Jails” says, “In fact, compared with status quo policy, split-sentencing not only alleviates jail congestion, it actually reduces recidivism” (Simmons). Split-sentencing is a practice which low felony charges are split between jail time and community supervision. The quote explains how split-sentencing wouldn’t just lessen inmates, but also repeat offenses. At the same time, pretrial release, the release of suspected criminals who haven’t been convicted, saves taxpayers over $17 billion and would rapidly decongest prisons, but it’s a risky solution. Simmons also points out, “But there’s always a risk they might use their liberty to commit more crimes or flee, escaping justice altogether” (Simmons). This highlights the difficulty in prison reform and that it isn’t a cut-and-dry solution. Along with the difficulty, it tells us more solutions to correct this problem with. Pretrial release and split-sentencing seems like the perfect solution, but there are risks involved.

Mass incarceration is the overcrowding of prisons, which is a problem in America due to poorly run judiciary system, although we are finding solutions to help solve this issue. America’s poor policies and hurtful practices hurts American prisons and the public, unlike other European countries who got it right, but we have other solutions, such as pretrial release, which brings optimism. This overpopulation costs taxpayers countless amounts of money, and hurts the public by increasing the chance of re-offenders. To wrap it up, this hurts the public because of the criminals not getting help, and the taxpayers being punished for it.

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