Prison Overcrowding Essay

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Prison Crowding Prison crowding is becoming more and more of an issue in the United States. Every day presents a growing problem when someone is arrested and taken into to custody and ultimately convicted. Many concerns have been raised when it comes to the topic of prison. Growth in prison capacity has lagged slightly behind that of the inmate population. There has been no consistent evidence that crowding is associated with mortality, morbidity which is defined as clinic utilization), recidivism, violence, or other pathological behaviors (Gaes 1994). In addressing any problem area, one first must define the terms or operational definitions. The United States Supreme Court on November 30, 2010, heard oral argument in Schwarzenegger v. Plata about whether a federal court in California properly ordered the release of 40,000 prisoners to relieve the severe overcrowding in the state's prisons that has led to inadequate medical and mental health care for prisoners (Equal Justice Initiative, 2010). America’s prisons now hold more than 2.3 million people, and many of the facilities are overcrowded, with serious implications for both health and safety. Since the mid-1970s, the prison population in the nation’s largest state has risen by more than 750%, from about 20,000 to more than 160,000 (Equal Justice Initiative, 2010). California’s prison system is among one of the worst in the system and part of it is due to their adaptation of their “Three Strikes” laws. The laws are harsh and the criminals, especially the ones already having two strikes don’t seem to care about the seriousness of committing crimes. California’s prisons, 33 total, are operating at almost twice their design capacity. Overcrowding is a very serious issue that worries the state officials such as Governor Schwarzenegger. In 2006 he declared prison crowding an emergency. Justice Breyer
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