Prison Overcrowding Essay

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Prison Overcrowding America's prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980. A special report released by the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2007 predicts that the nation's prison population will rise to more than 1.72 million by 2011(According to“Public Safety, Public Spending” (2008), The Pew Charitable Trusts). From a comparative perspective, the number of people behind bars in the United States is striking. An even more recent report from Pew notes "the United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China." Even though many new prisons have been built throughout the nation during the past 20 years to accommodate the growing number of inmates, prison overcrowding is still very much a reality in many jurisdictions. There are many problems that occur from overcrowded prisons. First, according to David Beck-Brown of the San Diego Union-Tribune, it is less expensive to check into a Motel 6 and to eat out than to house an inmate in a California prison. It costs approximately $62.05 to house a state or federal prisoner for one day. The annual cost of incarcerating one inmate is over $22,000 and rising. The prison budget is $8.2 billion, and an additional $2 billion to $4 billion is needed to "build out" the overcrowding problem. This is more money than the state spends on higher education. With prisons exceeding their limit, this is way over their budget and causes states to fall into debt. Prisons aren't the only ones affected financially. Taxpayers suffer from this as well. We are the ones paying for this crisis. Second, when prisons are exceeding their limit, it jeopardizes the guard and inmate safety. "Correctional administrators agree that crowded prisons result in greater tension, frustration, and anger among the inmate population, which leads to

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