Why Does the US Prisons System Need Reform?

Jan 31, 2019 by

By Alex Hepgurn

The US Prison system has numerous issues, which need addressing. Racial profiling is amongst some of the policies considered to be extremely cruel. In order to reduce or even end the extreme and cruel nature of the system, it is important to reform them so as to ensure justice to the prisoners.


There are many ways in which this can be undertaken, particularly by a drastic reduction in prison sentences that are severe in nature. There are certain strict laws around drug policies, which also could be decriminalised and the likes. Below are some of the prime reasons why the US Prison System is in need of a reform.


  1. Prevalence of racism in the prisons

Although it may not seem like it, racism is very much prevalent in the American prisons and the justice system at large. Incarceration of coloured Americans is statistically much higher than the white population. This holds true for both State and Federal prisons.


For every white American that gets a prison sentence, five African Americans serve their sentence, showing a massive gap. Certain states, particularly, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Vermont and Minnesota, where the population is largely white, this ratio was skewed much greatly with a ratio of a whopping 10:1.


One may argue that the sentence given is predominantly for the crimes they may have committed irrespective of their race. However, statistics have proven that an African American is more likely to be sent to prison for a crime whereas a white American would be given a clean chit for the same crime committed. This is also applicable to the Hispanic and Latino community.


One of the primary reasons for this injustice could be attributed to the fact that the way the American system works supports the rich and the wealthy much more than communities with lower income. People of colour largely belong to this category, making things much more difficult for them. https://inmate101.com/ is the ideal place online to get more information about a loved one who may be serving a sentence. They can be contacted by phone or even visited in person by first finding out the timings.


  1. More inmates and less prison space:

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are serving a prison sentence in the USA. If statistics are to be believed, there is a whopping 2.3 million people who are serving a sentence in prison.


In addition to this, there is also a section of the inmates who have been released on probation. This accounts for roughly 5 million of the population. This staggering number creates a situation of overcrowding in the prisons. This in turn also increases the cost of the Federal Government to cater to the prisoners’ needs.


When the matter is dug deeper, it is found that usually these prisoners are serving sentences for crimes that are non-violent in nature. Additionally, the strict laws criminalising drug use also land numerous Americans in prison each year. While there are rehab facilities offered, they usually fail to have an impact on the drug use of previous offenders, who then wind back up in prison. Research has suggested that the fact that prisons are overcrowding is not due to an increase in criminal activity. Rather it is the result of the unjust policies that have been drafted.


  1. Rigid nature of minimum sentencing laws:

For each type of crime committed, there is a certain number of years that a prisoner would be required to serve. During this time, tabs on loved ones by ensuring that they’re doing well or by sending a care package to show them some much needed love.


Once they have served the minimum number of years, they can be left on parole if the jury decides to do so. In a court of law, this plays in favour of the prosecutors. Defendants who may or may not serve a sentence for a longer duration are threatened of the doom that may await them.


They’re instead guaranteed a much-reduced sentence if they were to accept a guilty plea. Even if the accused is not particularly guilty, they see the benefit of serving a shorter sentence instead of risking away a longer term.


Concluding Remarks


The Justice system in the USA is largely flawed due to the extremely strict nature of the consequences. Imprisoning is not the only way for a country to fight crimes. The simple fact of having way too many people than the prison can accommodate can have an impact on the overall economy in the long run. Besides, the presence of racism and minimum sentence laws also create an unfavourable environment for the prisoners, compelling the authorities to rethink the US Prison System and introduce reforms.


Author Alex Hepgurn

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