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American Prison System

Autor:   •  November 4, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,133 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,311 Views

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American Prison System

An estimated one out of every thirty-one Americans is in jail, prison or on supervised release (Lithwick). What does that mean? It could mean the America is full of the cruelest, most horrible people alive. On the other hand, it could mean the people of America are doing something wrong. The numbers show there is something wrong with the prison system because America does not only consist of druggies, alcoholics, murderers, and thieves. There are numerous problems with the prison system in America and it needs to be improved. The prison system is costly, it does not prevent new crimes, and inmates can come out in worse shape than they went in.

The cost of the prison system is extremely expensive. The average cost per prisoner in state prisons in 2001 was $22,650 per year. This is a massive amount considering over two million people are currently in prison. The average amount per year has risen in a short eight years to nearly $29 thousand (Cary). For people on parole or probation the average cost is between $1,250 and $2,750 per year (Cary). It considerably less to put people on parole, yet minor offenses can land a person jail time and cost the state an extra twenty grand. “The U.S. spends an estimated $60 billion on corrections each year” (Slevin). This amouny of money is ridiculous and could be spent in better places such as; education, health care or affordable childcare.

Another costly effect of the prison system is the fact that more and more jails and prisons have to be built. “America’s population has gone up a thousand percent in the last three decades” (“Prison”). Because of this increase, some prisons, such as the one in Salinas Valley, have become so crowded they are resorting to “warehousing”, which is stuffing inmates into makeshift dorms (“Prison”).

Due to life sentences, there are many elderly inmates in the system and as they grow older, it becomes very costly to support them. In California, around August 2008, they had recently asked to seize $8 billion from the state to build medical units for inmates that were sick (Lambe). In order to avoid these expenses some experts said they should release the elderly prisoners earlier, because they are less likely to commit another offense (Lambe). This solution would upset people like Mata Weber, whose daughter had been murdered. He said “We’re the victims not them. I don’t care if they’re fifty years old or seventy years old” (Lambe). Fixing the costly effect of the prison system is important to most taxpayers but it also needs to satisfy the victims, which creates even more problems.

The goal of the prison system is to deter people from committing future offenses. One study showed that “of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 states in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested within three years of release” (“Criminal”). This means that even


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