The number of prison and jail incarcerates is on a steady and progressive decline in the US. Lobby groups were quite amazed at the insatiable appetite of the US federal law enforcement and criminal justice system towards mass incarcerations. Deliberate efforts have been initiated towards depopulation of prisons including reduction of sentences for; drug trafficking and possession crimes, which were responsible for high prison numbers; and reclassification of crimes to less severe forms. The US is only second to China, with 38% of the total number of prisoners incarcerated globally yet its population is about 20% of that of China. The US also has the highest number of death row and life imprisoned convicts, which is over 34% of the global number of this caliber of inmates. These numbers are attributed to the previous legal dispensation that insisted on increasing both the numbers and duration of incarceration for those incarcerated.
Prisons, Campbell notes, serve as holding areas for those serving sentences exceeding one year while jails hold individuals awaiting trial and those individuals serving terms not in excess of one year. Campbell adds that it would require almost 75 years to sufficiently reduce the incarcerated population by around 50% (Robertson, 2019). He asserts further that the declining number of incarcerated persons was majorly due to policy changes and court orders. The decline should not be misconstrued as a reduction in crime rates in the US. The various states in the US formulate and implement laws differentially. States including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have made deliberate moves towards reclassification of offences to misdemeanors. Judges have also been conferred with wider discretion on matters revolving around sentencing, which has also contributed to the progressive decline in prison populations (Robertson, 2019).
Surveys done on incarcerated populations revealed that 1 in 10 persons constituted persons above 55 years. The black male population accounted for more than 85% of the male prison population in the US. Black women are responsible for around 65% of the female prison populace though the white female populace incarcerated has experience a boost recently registering an increase by around 40%. The black female incarceration has dropped by about 50%.
Campbell’s submissions compare the global incarcerates contribution proportions noting that the US is a significant contributor to this population. The writer vivifies this by comparing the US to countries that are more populous including China with a relatively lower prisoner index. The writer further uses statistics to indicate the various racial contributions of incarcerates and prisoners, with blacks registering higher numbers compared to the whites and Hispanics. Drug violations incarcerations in the US are noted as those responsible for the huge population of incarcerates in various jails, prisons and penitentiaries (Alexander, 2012). Additionally the writer reveals prison age statistics indicating that the elderly and senior citizens account for almost 10)% of the prison population proportion.
There has been growing concern especially by civil groups and the media about the high numbers of unnecessary incarcerations. Of most concern were the high federal allocations to prison and correctional facilities due to the high populations. It made concerned industry players and stake holders including taxpayers to review the main issue that heralded this concerns. Interventions include forceful legislation to review judicial jurisprudence and scope of the judges. Meting out alternate rehabilitation procedures on petty offenders and first time offenders and prescription of mandatory therapy sessions for young offenders (Alexander, 2012), whose misdemeanor does not meet the threshold of serious offences, would also help towards depopulating incarceration facilities (Robertson, 2019). Through such initiatives the society will not only be sound but the monies channeled towards establishment and maintenance of prisons can be channeled to other developmental sectors of the economy.
The data is meant to highlight the unnecessary burden borne by taxpayers towards prisons services in the US. The data also shows the various racial and age distribution proportions in prisons. Such data can be vital especially in policy formulation towards decongestion and or reforms in the Criminal Justice system.
Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarcerationin the age of colorblindness. USA: The New Press.
Robertson, C. (2019, April 25). Crime is down, yet U.S. Incarceration rates are still among the Highest in the World . Opinion . New York, United States: The New York Times. retrieved: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/us-mass-incarceration- rate.html?searchResultPosition=5