Sunday, November 29, 2015

Flaws in the United States Prison System

The United States prison system is extremely flawed, leading to a gross overpopulation. To reduce the amount of people, sentences should be lowered for petty crimes and nonviolent drug offenses. Due to Ronald Reagan's “war on drugs”, prison sentences for drug offenses are excessively long and borderline ridiculous. If a person receives a trafficking charge along with 2 separate drug charges of any kind they receive life in prison. Around 50% of all the prisoners in the US are incarcerated for these nonviolent charges, making us the country with the highest amount of people in jail. So, reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenses would significantly lower the number of people in prison. This would have an extremely positive effect on the country, as the taxes that were previously used for prisons could be used to provide higher education to poorer parts of the nation. This would help to further reduce the amount of prisoners as well, due to the fact that people who didn't complete high school account for 41% of American inmates.
            In addition, the living conditions in prisons should also be addressed. Prisons should not only punish, they should also “repair” the prisoner to make them suitable to be a productive individual in the outside world. This should include education, rehabilitation, and work skills. Allowing the prisoner to pursue a job or career after their release, rather than going back to a life of crime. Since only a small amount of prisons offer this, 68% of prisoners return to jail, and I believe reforms like this could reduce that number significantly.

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