Mass Incarceration: Locked Up In America
America has been taking measures to ensure that crimes do not go undetected or unpunished. This has led to an increase in the number of people who have been incarcerated. In recent years those who are being incarcerated come from all races, religion, genders, and even social classes. The United States puts more people behind bars than any other country in the world. America needs to seek out ways to reduce imprisonment rates, there are too many people who go to prison for too long for no good reason.
Mass incarceration is a forcible deprivation of liberty and individual freedom and rights, causing overpopulated jails and prisons. America leads to incarceration rates compared to other countries. In the world, America has the largest prison population in terms of the percentage of total population and number of inmates.
High incarceration rates inflict many unnecessary costs on society, impacting the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Crime rates themselves have been decreasing, but still, pose a threat to America’s economy. The cost of incarceration alone hurts the economy. A city paid $168,000 a year for one inmate, and the average annual taxpayer cost was $31,286. Social costs are also a problem, whether it be costs of victimization or cost that are intangible.
It appears America’s War on Drugs plays a large role in incarceration rates. There are harsh laws in place that place nonviolent drug offenders behind bars. There has been a rise in activity by the law-enforcement to stop and extinguish drug use. This is partially the reason as to why America has such large incarceration rates. To say War on Drugs was the only role played to influence incarceration rates would be false, or to say that limiting sentencing on non-violent drug abuse would be the only cure to this problem. United States sentencing laws, in general, are too strict, the idea to be tough on crime all the time has led to strict policies, which is the result of inmates spending too much time in prison. Here are three recommendations to achieve an efficient criminal justice system.
Firstly, America can reinvest savings, eliminate truth in sentencing and three strike laws, and prosecutors could seek lower penalties when appropriate. If the United States were to reinvest savings, there would be so much money saved that could then be redistributed to education, an improvement on public safety and rehabilitation programs, which would all benefit society tremendously. If three strikes laws and truth in sentencing were eliminated, the judges would then be able to make decisions on sentencing that would be more appropriate for the offender. These two laws deprive the judge of being able to assess the details of the crime to give fair sentences.
Next sentence maximums and minimums should be further evaluated. If someone commits a crime, yes, they should be punished, but for what amount of time? Just because one has a longer sentence in prison does not mean they will be better rehabilitated. Longer stays could possibly lead to a criminal relapse. The guidelines for sentencing should be improved on to make the sentencing proportional to the crimes committed.
Lastly, prison should be eliminated for lower-level crimes. The price per prisoner a year is too costly to be sentencing minor charges such as possession, selling marijuana, or even petty theft. For these types of offences, there should be programs encouraged or mandatory such as probation, rehabilitation, or community service. There should be alternatives to prison for lower types of offences.
After watching incarceration rates incline to heights unimaginable there are some radical ideas that would either be an excellent solution or end to disaster. On the surface, it seems like a wonderful idea to cut sentencing minimums and maximums because of cost efficiency, but this would come with consequences. With longer prison sentences, the criminal would be off the streets, meaning there would be a decrease in crime rates. This is the main flaw of the idea to reduce sentences.
Eliminating sentences for low rate crimes would be beneficial economically, but could impact the crime rate tremendously, as well increase the number of facilities that provide community service, and rehabilitation centres. There is also no proof that rehab, community service, or even probation would be more beneficial to the offenders than serving their time. Taking into consideration that the offender may not have to properly pay for their crime by serving time in jail.
The three strikes law and truth in sentencing impacts the criminal justice system in volumes. Truth in Sentencing laws are in place to make sure there is not a possibility of early release for those who are incarcerated, it requires that they serve a particular portion of their sentence. This allows the criminal to be punished for what they did and sets a fair standard for all criminals, which is smart. The three strikes law is in place to ensure a mandatory prison time. This law can easily be a deterrent against crime and reduce felony arrest. The flaw in this law is that people who have three non-violent felonies can still qualify, and it leads to prison overpopulation.
In conclusion, there are many reasons as to why mass incarceration is a problem, and there are many solutions that could either be beneficial or detrimental depending on the circumstance. No matter what there has to be something done to regulate the number of people being incarcerated.
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