By Brooke Chaplan, Special for USDR
Although the American prison system is a necessary component of today’s society, it does have some major flaws. Sadly, a lot of the problems facing the prison system are simply overlooked. Here are a few ideas to decrease the number of inefficiencies within the United States prison system, and how they’ve come about in recent years.
Release of Inmates Who Have Committed a Victim-less Crime
The United States has some of the most crowded prisons in the entire world. Not only does this contribute to the spread of disease and sickness, but it also elevates the rate of violence among inmates. Most open-minded people agree that inmates should not be treated like caged chickens. Inmates who have committed a victim-less crime such as illegal drug use, are now being sent to different rehabilitation centers to offset the numbers. Hopefully with more of these rehab facilities, the prisons can be better utilized for more high risk prisoners.
Each year, millions of tax dollars are spent on housing inmates. Some of the typical expenses include healthcare, legal fees, food, electricity, clothing, and maintenance. Furthermore, the cost to build a modern correctional facility can exceed $300 million. Often times, the prison system’s budget surpasses the amount of money given to the public school system. This equates to lower teacher salaries and fewer supplies for the students. When we look at spending we can see where there is money being wasted. Officials are now doing more to try to use the money more efficiently.
Fair Court Proceedings
Contrary to popular belief, not every inmate deserves to be in prison. Regretfully, dozens of innocent people are incarcerated each year. Putting experienced lawyers in the courtroom is a good way to preserve the rights of every defendant. Trial advocacy programs and programs like the California innocence project allow future lawyers to enhance their litigation skills prior to actually starting their career. After participating in mock trials, the law student will be able to gain the necessary experience and help get innocent people shortened sentences or even a new trial.
Educational Opportunities for Inmates
Over the last decade, many prisons have decreased the number of educational opportunities that are offered to their inmates. In order for an inmate to successfully contribute to society, they need to learn new skills. Education could be the stepping stone for prisoners who wish to change their lives for the better. Instead of coming out with no future prospects, research has shown that inmates who worked on their education and skills have a lower chance of returning later.
Rehabilitation should remain one of the primary goals of incarceration. According to statistics, nearly 50 percent of the inmates will eventually return to the prison system after being released. This means that the prison system is not doing a good job of rehabbing the inmates. New programs are being developed to make inmates less likely to return.
While the inefficiencies of the U.S. prison system may seem difficult to overcome, they can be fixed by developing a solid research plan. A well-designed prison system will have a beneficial impact on the entire society as a whole.