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The American Prison System

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Essay title: The American Prison System

The American Prison System

The American Prison system is home to many of the nations criminals. The ever-growing population is due in part to incarceration, where an alternate punishment would suffice. The sustenance of the inmates is drawn directly of of society's pocket, in the form of taxes. I believe that we, as a nation, should focus on providing more sensible, economical ways for criminals to pay off their debt to the community.

There is no doubt that America is one of the world’s largest and most formidable countries. Therefore, the prison system must follow accordingly, abiding by the government regulated rules and guidelines of equality and fairness. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting citizens of the United States, the statistics speak otherwise.

The prison system in America is undoubtedly the largest in the world, claiming the freedom of roughly four hundred and eighty six for every one hundred thousand Americans, on average. (Federal Bureau of Justice Consensus) The amount of inmates rises annually. At last consensus, midyear 2004, there were 2,131,180 inmates in the prison system, an increase of 2.3%. This increase was slightly less than that of previous years (3.5% since 1995) but is still an increase regardless. In fact this steady incline in total number of inmates has been increasing for over a decade.

Many people have never been to prison. But those who have will know that the system basically provides free housing and meals for the convicted inmate, with the exception of a twenty dollar fee for entry and processing. As sad as it sounds, if I were homeless, I would rather be in prison than on the streets. The point that I’m reaching is that these people’s sustenance and cost of living comes directly out of us, the taxpayers’ pockets. Why should we be forced to keep the scum of the earth alive with our hard earned pay? In my opinion, the courts should keep all except for the most dangerous and repeat offenders out of the prisons, developing programs and services that they must work through.

To clarify, I don’t mean that the sex offenders, crack heads and the like should just be free to walk, but rather should be kept under close supervision by a probation officer or someone of similar status. They should be pushed to work, therefore paying for their mistakes with their own money. While I realize that they already have similar programs in effect, such as Pre-trial Intervention and probation coupled with community service. I don’t think that it is utilized near enough; there are too many people in jail for menial reasons.

The total amount of inmates can be classified into one of four groups, which can help to clarify my previous statements. These groups include: Violent crimes, Property crimes, Drug crimes, and Public-order crimes. Since 2001, the percentages are as follows.

Violent Crimes--------49%

Property Crimes-------19%

Drug Crimes-----------20%

Public-Order Crimes--11%

The violent crimes are obviously the most proficient, as well as the most serious. Most of these crimes should constitute jail time, unless it may be solved

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