One of the major challenges of the United States’ corrections is overcrowding in prisons. This is a complex problem representing a major challenge to prison administrators and the criminal justice system as a whole. It involves the mismatch between the capacity of prisons and the number of inmates to be accommodated and is linked to the growth of prison population (Freeman, 1999). In prisons, the impacts of overcrowding on instructional environments and inmates are destructive, dehumanizing and deleterious. It is injurious to the prisoners’ morale, mind and health. Overcrowding also creates several prisons for prison management teams, makes custodial surveillance difficult and thereby indulges immoral practices such as homosexuality. Owing to the rising prison overcrowding, standards for water supply, sanitary services, housing and classification of inmates into various categories cannot be maintained properly (Roy, 1989).
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The overcrowding problem has caused by mandatory minimum sentencing, foreign offenders and immigrants, expensive court bails, high reoffending rates and imprisonment of petty offenders. There is also another cause referred to as profit motive whereby some companies does business with prisons to make profits. The need of making profits define our society and it does not exclude the prison systems.
In my opinion, the overcrowding problem can be solved punishing many petty offenders through social work, deporting the foreigners so that they are sentenced in their countries of origin and doing away with the minimum sentencing. Also, the government should come up with rational policies that can reduce overcrowding in the prisons. For instance, there should be policies concerning court bails so that they are charged realistically. Commercialization of prisons should be ended so that they are not used as business grounds. Instead, prisons should be improved to serve their important rehabilitative functions. Finally, more new prisons should be constructed alongside the expansion of the existing ones. To achieve this, the states should increase their corrections’ budgets.
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