over pop Essay

Submitted By bigdog19
Words: 1380
Pages: 6

The Effects of Prison Overcrowding on Penal Programs
In America today the war on drugs is still being fought on a day to day basis. American society has gone to many extremes to combat this threat, from tougher laws to the formation of agencies such as the DEA. Even with all of this, is everything being done to the extent that the public wishes? According to the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program, approximately 60 percent of all arrestees test positive for illicit drug use (ADAM, 2000). On top of that 84 per cent of state prisoners expected to be released to the community were involved with alcohol and drugs at the time of their arrest (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001). One such form of this fight is the institution of drug rehabilitation programs in prison. These programs are there as a way to force convicted users into cleaning up their act. Yet, for all the good intentions of these programs, is that the proper place for them? What impact is there from other outside influences?
Overcrowding and Logistics It takes a degree of confidence and determination for a drug user to commit to being clean. So what sorts of distractions face an inmate who is sentenced to go through such a program? The list is large and varies from person to person, yet most would look quite similar.
Topping the list would be overcrowding, illness, and peer influence. Ironically, to a degree, the three can be narrowed down to overcrowding as the root cause. Those may seem like just three minor things, but some have far reaching effects that most don�t know. First, there is overcrowding. Prevalent throughout the 1980�s, and only getting worse at the beginning of the 90�s. America saw a dramatic increase in incarceration rates. Going from
313 per 100,000 in 1985 to 600 per 100,000 in 1995 (Greene, 1997). Improvements, law changes, and new prison construction have been attempted to thwart this ever present problem.Yet nothing seems to get rid of it, only postpone. Oregon saw fit to try and change policy by every angle possible, first by trying to pass prison bonds in 1980, 1983, and 1986. The bonds, in turn, were denied by the public every time (Greene, 1997). Then they resorted to having the
Oregon Criminal Justice Council set up strict sentencing guidelines to cut down on the flow of inmates (Greene, 1997). Where as other states must deal with the situation at hand. Prison population in California in 1985 was already operating at 181 percent (Greene, 1997).
Combined that with a crime boom and the passing of the �three strikes� law in the early 1990�s, and the prison population has not seen much relief. What sort of effects does overcrowding have? Studies have shown that anytime there is a change in prison population both illness and death rates react directly proportional (McCain,
Cox, Paulus, 1980). These studies, taking in over six years worth of data at over twelve different institutions, showed direct correlations on a long term basis with multiple institutions� data mirroring each other. Yet with so many forms of institution and confinement what is described as being crowded? To understand that question one must take a look at the housing arrangements that penal institutions are currently using. There are numerous types of facilities including small county jails, state prisons, federal prisons, Federal �super-max� high security prisons, and even large military prisons like Ft. Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. In each of these settings there are different types of housing, sometimes two or three per facility. They contain everything ranging from large dormitory style twenty man rooms, to the infamous
�solitary� style one man isolation chambers. A summary of results for a series of research at the
Federal Correctional Institution at El Reno stated that double occupant housing produced greater feeling of being crowded, more negative ratings of the