4 Major Issues With The Current Prison System


According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, the amount of adult state and federal prison residents grew from 139 per 100,000 inmates in the 1980s to 502 per 100,000 residents in 2009 — an uptick of 261%. More than two million Americans are currently facing time in jails or prisons, and the cumulative amount of Americans under some type of penal supervision (like prison, jail, probation or parole) is beyond 7.2 million.

1. The larger picture of prison overcrowding.

The United States has the largest rate of incarcerations in the world at 756 per 100,000, counting juveniles and adults according to the International Centre for Prison Studies based in U.K. With 5% of the world’s total population, the United States makes up about one-quarter of the entire prison population.

2. Death in Prisons

The explanations of death within the custody of police varies from killings by other prisoners, capital punishment, suspected homicide by the police, physical or psychological abuse, suicide, natural causes or unintentional death. The data can be inconclusive as deaths in police custody are not required to disclose the circumstances of the death.

Looking at estimates of US jails, the fatality rate is 128, and prison rates are 264 per 100,000 according to The Bureau of Justice Statistics. Different research has concentrated on particular states, like Maryland and the numbers of deaths by identification (race, gender or age).

3. Low-income areas are more heavily policed

The legislative response across the country was in part due to updated punishments, more severe parole and sentencing systems, less dependence on probation or other options aside from imprisonment, and a rising prison-building market.

While substance abuse happens throughout society, low-income urban populations are more patrolled, due to the fact that more everyday experiences transpire in public areas and illegal actions are harder to conceal.

4. Downward spiral

When adolescents are detained, the consequences endure for their whole lives, impacting job assurance, assets, earnings, owning a home, public benefits, marriage and family life and voting rights in some states. As this happens disproportionally in lower-income neighborhoods, the impacts exceed far more than those directly influenced.

Many people are trying to reverse this trend, not only drawing awareness to how deaths in custody are not required to disclose circumstances of the death, but also fighting for men that are inside of the prisons, and the young people that carry the burden of difficulties faced in urban environments.


Halperin Law Center | Virginia Jail Death Review

US News | Underfunded, Overcrowded State Prisons Struggle With Reform

NEWYORKCITYREVOLUTION | Over-Policing of Low-Income Neighborhoods


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