Issues of Growth in the Prison Population
I need at least 3 peer-reviewed journal articles and APA citation. A title page and reference page. The title page and reference page do not count as the 3-5 page essay
Issues of Growth in the Prison Population
The rate of incarceration in the United States has immensely increased over the past four decades. Larger populations of offenders are being sent to prison and held for a longer period resulting in great population growth in prisons. The aspect of criminal justice Policymakers embracing the consensus of the use of Incarceration as a means of controlling crime in the country and the tendency of undermining prison system abilities and use of excessive pre-trial detention is also a key contributor to the situation. Criminal policies also embrace excessive pretrial detention, imprisonment of the minors, and consideration of petty offenses for detention, leading to a more significant incarcerated population. However, the growth of the prison population has led to overcrowding problems in the systems, which have continued to affect the proper function of these facilities. This paper will thus expound on the issues that relate to the growth of the prison population in the prison system.
Prison overcrowding is among the major problems in the increased growth of the prison population. It is the biggest problem in prison systems, and its consequences have arguably proven to be life-threatening as they profoundly prevent prisons from functioning properly. Many prison systems face the problem of inadequate space, as required by the international standards to accommodate the many detainees. Cells are often overcrowded, with some detainees spending over 23 hours in these cells. It has more issues of prisoner’s poor accommodation with prisoners sharing beds, taking shifts to sleep, or spending nights while standing in poorly ventilated prisons (Blumstein & Beck, 2019). This situation has severely life-threatening consequences, and prisoners are greatly affected. In over 125 countries, prisons have exceeded the required maximum occupancy rate, with more than 23 national prison systems having double the maximum number required.
The criminal justice policy undermines the prison system’s ability to provide and sustain basic human needs like accommodation, health care, and food to prisoners. This has more so led to the prison system’s inability to provide effective rehabilitation programs, educational and vocational training to inmates, which help them improve and restrain from bad behavior and keep them occupied or busy in prisons (Mauer, 2017). This training is also helpful in the intimates’ after imprisonment period since they can learn different ideas to sustain their living outside prison rather than engaging in illegal activities like drug trafficking or theft.
The growth of the prison population has also led to problems of health in prisons and inmates. Overcrowding in cells and prisons has led to a high burden of diseases, which poses challenges for prison health facilities to provide care to the large population and denies them the opportunity to screen, treat and diagnose them with severe health issues. Most of these diseases in prisons are attributed to infectious and contagious diseases, substance use, limited access to health treatment, and violence. Contagious disease such as Tuberculosis (T.B.)is more prevent in prisons due to the presence of a large number of people in an enclosed and poorly ventilated space’s is highly conducive in such condition and with the overcrowding situation, many prisoners and inmates are at high risk of contracting the disease.
According to Blumstein and Beck (2019), the transmission of T.B. in prisons is estimated to have a 6.4 to 8.5 percentage of the T.B. infected group. Sexually transmitted disease is also a great problem in prisons and jails due to the high population. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of diseases like gonorrhea and Chlamydia are more prevalent in jails than in general settings. It is more so high among the female inmates with a 28 percent higher chance as compared to a 10 percent on male. This is mostly due to the prison system’s sharing of facilities and worsens by the overcrowding situation in the prison system.
Incarceration of the old aged is also a great problem in the prison system. Irrespective of the old population covering a lesser percentage than the young in prison, the older have weaker immune systems and have greater possibilities of experiencing typical chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart failure. This group of inmates thus requires regular checkups and medical care, but with the increased prison population, the health care workers in prison facilities are not able to cater for their needs. Often most die before accessing medical treatment not because of negligence from the health caregivers but due to the inability to servicing the large population.
According to Mauer (2017) overcrowding in prisons also leads to increased substance consumption among intimates since the security personnel cannot monitor everyone in the prisons, and in most cases, there is understaffing in most prison systems. Health facilities in prison are also not in the capacity to screen every inmate to detect these substances.
Overcrowding also can result in mental health issues. Overcrowding in prison causes depression, especially in women prisoners, while men living in crowded conditions respond with aggression and withdrawal. Overcrowding forms a good medium for the transmission of some infections among the inmates; such transmission can relocate or expand to exterior prison and guard. Such infections can put inmates and prison guards at risk of contracting the same diseases. Depression has been shown to be the main aim cause of the mental problems that arise due to lack of enough space, lack of privacy, especially in women inmates, and bullying, which normally takes place in the cells. Depression can result further in other negative thoughts such as suicidal attempts by the inmates in their effort to find a peaceful mind. In order to ensure these situations are avoided, there is a need to diminish the consequences by adopting the necessary policy to ensure decongestion in the cells.
Violence among the prisoners is another issue resulting from the overcrowding in prisons. However, there is more mixed evidence regarding prison congestion and prison violence. Violence among the inmates results from the confusion and tension normally induced by crowded conditions. These involve misunderstandings about the space. The violence among the inmates is routed to the prison life’s social order where inmates develop hatred and dominance between one another and thus makes them hard. Overcrowding encourages the establishment of small gang groups among the inmates. Therefore, this results in rival groups among the prisoners that promote violence in prison and create more division, contrary to the prison’s main objective.
Suicide is another issue that results from prison overcrowding. Prisoners tend to be at great risk of suicide due to the surrounding environment they interact with. The urge for suicide is highly contributed to personal factors as well as interaction with other inmates. Overcrowding has been shown to contribute to the high rate of suicide of inmates; however, this may also relate to the prison functions, the security level, and the population of the prisoners. Overcrowding makes the prison have limited resources, which directly affects the prisoners in that bullying will take place, and some inmates will never get a share of necessities such as food as a result of harshness from their colleagues (Mauer, 2017). This led to the accumulation of negative thoughts, which may lead to inmates shifting their focus and aim at finding any means to eliminate their lives.
Privacy just like any other human being, is very important to inmates. However, population growth in prisons deteriorates access to full privacy among prisoners. This is due to the fact that space will be limited, resources as well will be scarce, and thus this affects the prisoners psychologically directly or indirectly. Lack of privacy in prison is highly associated or linked to depression, among other negative inmate psychological thoughts (Franke et al., 2019). These negative thoughts are caused by aspects such as overcrowding and frustration, which may tend to lead to a change in behavioral responses etc. however, these issues can be sorted only if the right policies and measures are taken care of to ensure the crimes does not take more time to be solved as well to ensure justice prevails at all cost by providing prisons only take its main objective or correctional measures.
In conclusion, prison population growth has led to prison overcrowding, leading to immense problems in prison systems’ functioning. These systems are facing various issues that range from inadequate accommodation to inmates’ suffering. Prisons cannot provide prisoners with basic needs, which has led to the increasing problem of exacerbated mental problems, violence, suicide, and contagious contraction among prisoners. The criminal justice policies undermine prisons’ ability to cater to the basic need of prisoners and contribute more to the increased rate of prison population growth since they have a consensus of sentencing offenders for imprisons as a way of controlling crime. These policies are the major drivers to the increased prison population, which has had severe life threatening impacts on the prisoners and the prison system. Criminal policies also embrace excessive pretrial detention, imprisonment of the minors, and consideration of petty offenses for detention, leading to a more significant incarcerated population. However, these policies require a review since the rate is profoundly increasing beyond the prison system’s ability to control the situation.
Blumstein, A., & Beck, A. J. (2019). Population growth in U.S. prisons, 1980-1996. Crime and justice, 26, 17-61.
Franke, I., Vogel, T., Eher, R., & Dudeck, M. (2019). Prison mental healthcare: recent developments and future challenges. Current opinion in psychiatry, 32(4), 342-347.
Mauer, M. (2017). The causes and consequences of prison growth in the United States. Punishment & Society, 3(1), 9-20.
Sakoda, R. T., & Simes, J. T. (2019). Solitary confinement and the US Prison Boom. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 0887403419895315.