The United States of America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. On any given day our criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in, 1719 state prisons, 102 federal, 942 juvenile corrections, 3283 local jails, 79 Indian country jails (Rabuy and Wagner 2016). That is the tip of the iceberg.
Our prisons are human warehouses that are plagued by indifference to the personal health. Family destruction coupled to social injustice inevitably leads to eventual inhuman activities by professionals and inmates. Prison Reform is absolutely necessary to reduce recidivism and create a more humane society.
Our justice system manages to arrest 11 million people every year. The prisons release 636,000 every year. Parole is given to 820,000 while 3. 8 million are released on probation. These people are often divorced from their families.
In fact, Ramsey Clark, the U.S. Attorney General in 1972 argued that “Five years of incarceration destroys a man’s contact with people and society”. He did not offer a remedy or an option except to challenge the social structure to adjust the sentencing procedures and format.
Overcrowding, obviously, is easy to see as a natural occurrence that impacts the funding of these human storage units. Inmate crime is rampant, with professional (corrections/police) crime an interesting competitor for leading problems. The health and welfare of inmates are often accepted with minimal concern if any. This is where you, as an inmate, family member, friend of a relative can get lost forever.
Youth are the ultimate casualties. Most youth are imprisoned for non-violent crimes. The present count on youth is 7,200 incarcerated for offenses that are not crimes. Their life options are totally crushed. Education or skills learned in prison revolve around subjects like the best weapon for a robbery. The “street tutelage” is everywhere. The intimidation or fear levels are beyond recording. The result is often recidivism.
A criminal record eliminates most employment period. The jobs that may be available do not offer life supportive pay or salary. Military or civil service positions are eliminated. Health facilities and education cannot risk hiring ex-convicts.
Recidivism is the relapse into criminal behavior after being incarcerated. The return to prison compounds all the tragedies listed including the loss of hope and dignity that accompanies your name being replaced by a number. It reinforces your listing as a non-entity. It guarantees you every day that you are expendable without any chance of contributing. The individual exceptions in this mass destruction of individuals and families are too few to count. This is how society becomes the “casualty”.
The private prisons have grown exponentially due to overcrowding and political convenience and the capitalization on human misery offer nothing except a clear image of sadistic inhuman indifference.
The inmate abuse level is magnified because of the non-professionals who staff them. These prisons exist in states where human and civil rights are constantly being abused or removed.
There may very well be more than one solution or option to this problem. The fact that the subjects in prison are by definition available for reformation and should present many choices provides a puzzling truth. A total absence to commit to Prison Reform in any positive way is the reality in the civilized, compassionate, humane United States of America.
The racial and ethnic disparities in prisons and jails are an indicator of why and what must be a part of the resolution. The question is where to begin and with the last two factors entered we see the potential for many arguments of delay and resistance to move forward in the future, if at all.
Under the present structures, we are fracturing families which surely limits the successes of any children. We are training people who could employ terroristic tactics in any instant for any reason. Breeding skills at such trades as robbery with coaching on what would be effective in intimidation a “side by side” shotgun or an “over and under” is a part of Armed Robbery 101.
Easily, a more understanding compassionate sentencing structure would help. Skills taught outside of the walls could keep the prisoner “in touch” with families and society. Health institutions (mental) with counseling as the sentence with monitoring by law and medical staff would certainly be a credit in lieu of nothing.
The absence of these cesspools of degradation and the elimination of their products of mangled and angry survivors will take time but we must begin now with real acts that produce positive results.
Prison Reform is mandatory to reduce recidivism and create progress in a true Democracy.
Bureau of Justice Statistics- Office of Justice Programs, 2016. Web. 7 July 2016.
Prison Policy Initiative. N.p., 14 March 2016. Web.7 July 2016.
Rabuy, Bernadette and Peter Wagner. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016.