The rate at which the United States prison system is locking up individuals is worrying. Latest statistics indicate that correctional facilities in the country hold between 2.1 and 2.3 inmates (Atwan 275). In other words, 1 in every 100 adults is held in the prison system. The numbers reveal that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rates in the developed world (Atwan 275). Experts attribute the exponential growth in prison numbers to the increasing number of criminal offenses committed from 1960 to 1990s. Prospects of the correctional system in the United States appear bleak. The numbers of incarcerated inmates continue to rise, as genuine fears mount on the limitations of the prison system to hold any more convicts. Something has to be done to reduce the rising numbers of people held in the prison system in the country. De-incarceration, proving a foundation for education to the inmates, hastening the execution of prisoners on death row, and abolishment of the death penalty are some of the ways of reducing the rising number of prisoners in the corrective facilities.
Prisoners placed on death row in the country account for a significant portion of the totals of those incarcerated. Walt Whitman, one of the country’s most respected poets and literary figures, suggests a fast-tracking of the execution process. He bemoans the “unsatisfactory state” of the American custom relating to punishing the capital offenders (Whitman 301). At the time of writing his article, the poet observed that in more than fifty capital offenses were committed in New York alone. To his utter dismay, capital punishment was only implemented once. The United States laws appear undecided on the exact action for a convict sentenced to execution. According to Whitman, the execution process is painstakingly long, a factor which contributes to overcrowding in prisons (301). Whitman suggests the swift implementation of the death penalty to reduce the incidence of high growth of prisoners on death row.
I agree with Whitman’s suggestion that the law should fast track the process of implementing the death penalty since it reduces overcrowding in the American prison system. Also, I have to indicate that I have serious reservations about executing a person in a hurry before all appeal channels are exhausted. The justice system in the U.S. allows a convict to appeal the death penalty and only resorts to execution after a rigorous process of scrutinizing evidence availed to the courts. Pushing the date of actual implanting the judgment too far increases the propensity of the prison system to overcrowd. Therefore, I feel that Whitman’s suggestions to reduce the swelling up of numbers in the country prison system are valid.
Some authors suggest the abolition of the death penalty in the country, arguing that it is outdated, expensive, ineffective, and biased. Sonia Kumar, a student at the Kansas University, reckons that the rest of the States in the Union should follow the lead of the eighteen who have already abolished the death penalty (Kumar 294). She advocates for the abolishment of the death penalty since it is likely to be erroneous and biased (295). No relationship between the death penalty and lower levels of crime exist (Lamperti 10). Studies in England, for example, revealed that homicides rates increased after highly publicized executions (Lamperti 7). I agree with her assertions about eradicating the death penalty on the grounds that it is ineffective. Eradication of futile punitive measures such as capital punishment will reduce incarcerations within the corrective system in the country.
Reducing the recidivism rates in the prison system in the United States should begin by offering foundations towards helping the inmates acquire an education. Chandra Bozelko, a former inmate at the California correctional institute, reckons that a good place to start with the program to reduce prisoner recidivism rates is by providing newspapers. The former inmate now literary author feels that the newspapers in a correctional facility are the right step towards the foundational education which inmates need (Bozelko 282). He feels that the Obama-era grants aimed at introducing university-level education for the inmates are ineffective (Bozelko 281). He recounts that newspapers fuelled his desire to re-join the world outside. I agree with Bozelko’s suggestion that providing information to the prisoners through newspapers could be a useful avenue towards reducing recidivism. By keeping former convicts from relapsing back to prison, the number of people held in the correction centers across the United States will decrease significantly.
The suggestion by columnist and political analyst Mona Charen that the justice system should refrain from the plan to release non-violent offenders is misguided. She argues that locking people behind bars guarantees safety to a neighborhood. Charen opposes the idea of de-incarceration, arguing that the proponents of the policy wrongly assume that non-violent drug offenders hold a significant portion of federal convicts (291). Out of the 1.6 million people behind bars, she argues, only about 200,000 are non-violent offenders (291). In my opinion, reducing mass incarceration in the prison system within the United States by releasing the non-violent offenders will reduce overcrowding in corrective centers. The 200,000 quoted by Charen is still a significant number, even if the justice department would release about half of them. Therefore, I disagree with her stance that decriminalization is the wrong way to approach the issue of rising numbers in the American prison systems.
Implementing community policing could help reduce the number of people arrested and subsequently imprisoned. Josh Bowers, an associate professor of law at the Virginia School of Law, reckons that undertaking deliberate measures to improve the relationship between the police force and members of the public will enhance the quality of policing work. In the event of disagreements between the two groups, they will try and solve them like neighbors rather than adversaries (Bowers 287). He observes that disrespectful policing is counterproductive and will likely lead to violent clashes with the public. The solution, he proposes, is improving the way the public see law enforcement and vice versa (Bowers 288). Consequently, the public clashes will result in further incarcerations, hence increasing the number of people held in the correctional facilities. Not only will the arrests increase, but violent nature will likely cause deaths and injuries to the offenders. I agree with Bowers’ assertions that reducing the soaring numbers in the corrective facilities is contingent upon the quality of policing in the community. The American police department needs to embrace good policing to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation with the public.
Emphasizing the quality of corrective facilities over quantity is essential to reduce the rates of recidivism. Haisam Hussein, a regular contributor to the Vice magazine, reckons that the correctional system in the United States merely locks up millions on people and releases them without the necessary skills to re-integrate into the society (Hussein 285). The convicts released into the public grapple with debts accrued from prison fees and cannot access certain government services. As such, these released inmates immediately relapse and get re-absorbed into the prison system. The solution to this, Hussein suggests, is to find ways of addressing the psychological and mental issues which help inmates get absorbed seamlessly into life outside the prison system (285). I agree with the suggestions of Hussein regarding improving the quality of corrective service offered in the prison institutions in the country. Equipping convicts with requisite skills to succeed in the free society will certainly reduce recidivism and help lower the high numbers of incarcerations.
Prisoner treatment at the American prison will have to improve to reduce the rates of recidivism. The first-hand narration by an inmate, Elijah Paschelke, regales the harrowing experience an African American convict has to endure in the hands of prison wardens. Paschelke describes the cruel manner with which the wardens deal with a disgruntled prisoner in Arizona State Prison during a prison riot (279). He implies that the evils he has witnessed in the penitentiary will be etched in his mind long after his release from prison, which will happen in ten years (Paschelke 279). It is likely that he will develop post-traumatic stress disorder from the events in the prison system and end up back in prison just like many of his colleagues. He implies that the humane treatment of those held in prisons will help reduce the recidivism rates in the United States. I agree with his suggestions because I believe prisoners are people too and they deserve dignified treatment. The horrific treatment meted out on prisoners will negatively affect their behavior when released, which contributes to the growing number of inmates.