An Assessment of Prison Overcrowding in America

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“As extensively noted in popular, professional, and academic sources, there is widespread concern that the United States has been experiencing severe prison overcrowding for some time. However, there are significant differences of opinion as to what actually constitutes overcrowding, what role it plays in causing or exacerbating prison management and inmate-related problems, or what steps should be taken to deal with it” (Harland, A.,2011) Most of the information pertaining to crowding in prisons centers around the overall size and growth of their populations and facilities as a symbol that the U.S creates prisons and incarcerates at higher rates than most other countries. Statistics on prisons and prison population to reinforce such conclusions are gathered from two sources. The most accurate information can be found in annual reports; and on websites of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as state department of corrections websites. On a national level; statistics are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), gathered from two of its many criminal justice system survey programs. Data through its national prisoner statistics program produces annual and semi-annual reports on inmates in state and federal prison facilities. Also; the Bureau of Justice Statistics organizes a census of state and federal facilities, which is compiled every five years. Information such as type of facility, size, level of security, capacity, and use of contractors is collected in this census. “As of the 2008 National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) annual survey, BJS reported that the number of prisoners under the jurisdiction of federal and state correctional authorities reached an all-time, year-end high of 1,610,446. Excluding prisoners housed in local jails and places such as privately contracted and community corrections facilities, 162,252

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