Overcrowding of prisons

(Ref. 410)
Problem Components
Policy issue area: Society
Policy issue: Crime
Description: High rate of crime and harsh sentencing require continuous building and overcrowding of Federal, state and local prisons.
Symptoms: U.S. incarceration rate is the highest in the world, with more than one million people imprisoned; many overcrowded prisons; increasingly brutal treatment of prisoners by officials; racist attitudes single out African-American males for punishment.
Causes: Insufficient attention and emphasis to social problems that foster criminal attitudes; glorification of violence in the media and in public attitudes, such as militarism; epidemic of drug abuse, including alcohol and chemical substances; mandatory sentencing guidelines and other punitive community attitudes.
Cost of problem: $25,000 per year to house a prisoner; removal of large numbers of potential workers from the economy.
Solution Components
Resources: Concerned citizens and community organizations; research institutes; Federal, state and local governments.
Goal: Reduce crime and imprisonment levels to those in other industrial countries (80% reduction).
Program area: Human resources development
Program-remedy: 1. Focus detection and imprisonment on habitual offenders.
2. Modify mandatory sentencing laws
3. Develop alternatives to incarceration, such as boot camps and electronic monitoring of parolees.
Program-prevent: 1. Develop programs that attack underlying social problems and causes contributing to crime and delinquency -- generate employment, provide quality education, health care and housing
2. Educational system and community organizations working together to educate in traditional moral values.
Cost of program: -
Beneficiaries: Potential victims of crime; business and industry

Return to Exhibit H

Return to Contents