Incarceration in the United States

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a for a paper i wrote in my English class, it is about my opinion on the incarceration of prison inmates and how we should implament more rehabilitation programs in our country and the effects of the costs and the benefits of this solution.

Savahnna Weggen

English 121

Prof. Breaux

November 10, 2012

Incarceration in the United States

The incarceration rate in the United States is at an all-time high today. The United States government has been spending more money than ever before for the funding of prison systems, including the state and local courts systems. Research indicates that the increased implementation of rehabilitation programs into our prison systems would save our government more money, than the nonexistent programs that are in place now.  The rehabilitation programs would be more expensive initially, but would ultimately save money in the long term because of the decrease of the incarceration of repeat offenders.

In an article written by Lisa Bloom, called “When Will the U.S Stop Mass Incarceration?” Bloom states that the United States imprisons more of our own population than any other country. She explains that we have spent more money on the construction of new prisons than the building of new colleges. Bloom also explains that the United States spends more money on prisons then on our education system. Some might say it is worth it to spend whatever amount of money is necessary to keep our country safe from criminals (Bloom). However, I believe there is a better way to save money and help our prisoners who are stuck in the vicious cycle of the prison system, some of whom might not need to be in prison in the first place. Many nonviolent criminals are incarcerated at an alarming rate because it is less expensive to have them incarcerated then it is to rehabilitate them.

Another point I would like to make is the amount of money we would save if we implemented increased rehabilitation programs within the prison systems. Correctional authorities spent $38.2 billion dollars to maintain the state’s prisons in 2001 and 29.5 billion on adult correctional facilities. Average annual cost per state inmate in 2001 was $22,650 per year and $62.05 per day(Prison talk).  In my opinion this amount would drop significantly because the same people would not be reoffending due to the rehabilitation they received during their initial sentence in prison. I believe that incarceration without rehabilitation is not assisting prisoners, but it is breeding repeat offenders; which is costing the tax payers of the United States an overabundance of money. In a study done by the United States Department of Justice, 67.5% of inmates were rearrested within three years of their release (Prison talk). The “costs” of prisons’ include electric, laundry services, food distributors and telephone companies, these companies also benefit by the increase of incarcerated individuals. Thus, there may be much opposition against the idea of rehabilitation programs being used in order to reduce the inmate population, because certain companies would lose money.

Now, how do we go about implementing rehabilitation in prisons in the United States? First of all, to me the United States I somewhat behind in the times when it comes to rehabilitation in prisons. If we look at a different country such as Norway for a comparison, this may have you thinking about this topic in a little bit of a different way. In the article, “Inside Norway’s Progressive prison.” By, Vice Staff. In the article Vice explains in his visit to Norway that within Norway‘s prisons they do not have life sentences and even the worst offenders serve no more than 21 years. Vice says, “Punish crimes, rehabilitate the offender”( Vice). America, of course, leans more heavily on the former.

The article by Vice, also explains how the prisoners have daily chores, share cabins, and work the land, and learn new skills during their rehabilitation. It is evident that this program has been working for them because Norway has a much lower recidivism rate (the chronic tendency toward repetition of criminal or antisocial behavior patterns) than the United States. To me this is a great program that the United States should implement, to help the citizens in our country so that we do not have to keep paying for them just to sit in prison and then reoffend.

This brings me to another way to take some pressure off the taxpayers in the United States. In an article called, “The New Economics of Crime and punishment”. David Wolman explains that if 1,000 nonviolent offenders were released from prison only 60 days earlier it would save the United States taxpayers over 5 million dollars.

From the same article, Wolman explains that we should take a cost benefit approach to the topic, by that I think he means we should look at if the punishment of these prisoners is really helping them and helping the other citizens in the United States. Then a comparison should be made between the amount of money we are paying to keep people incarcerated and the positive long term effects rehabilitation would have on our society as a whole(Wolman). Right now I think we are spending too much money on the incarceration of prisoners and as a society we are not getting the results that we should be getting.

I believe that, implementing rehabilitation programs such as the program Norway utilizes is a more cost effective, proactive approach to our increased inmate population in the United States. Yes, some might disagree with rehabilitating murderers and hardened criminals and then releasing them back into society with the chance that they might reoffend. I would also agree somewhat with that, however I think if we attempt to learn from some of the ideas Norway utilizes in their rehabilitation programs we might be on the right track to lessening the burden on the tax payers and help our communities.

Works Cited

 

Bloom, Lisa. When will the U.S. stop mass incarceration? 3 July 2012. 1 december 2012 .

none. prisontalk.com. November 2006. 1 december 2012 .

staff, Vice. Inside Norway's progressive prison system. 3 August 2011. 1 December 2012 .

Wolman, David. "The New Economics of Crime and Punishment." wiredmagazine 6 november 2012: 1.


Submitted: December 04, 2012

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