Effects Of Mass Incarceration In California

897 Words 4 Pages
A landmark case related to mass incarceration in the United States, Brown v. Plata, required a significant reduction in the prison population of the State of California. The Court held that overcrowding of prison facilities led to eighth amendment violations related to inadequate health and mental health care services which contributed to unnecessary and preventable deaths (Brown v. Plata). This case appropriately demonstrates that mass incarceration is unsustainable with the current prison facilities. Furthermore, there are inadequate resources available in most states to increase facilities for incarceration. Furthermore, the California response to Brown v. Plata demonstrates the benefit to reducing prison inmate populations prior to a …show more content…
Plata demonstrated the significant effects on inmates of prison overcrowding. Prison overcrowding put a tremendous strain on the ability to provide adequate physical and mental health services because the services are designed to serve a prison population of 100% capacity, not a prison population nearly double that. In 2006, the suicide rate for California prisons was almost 80% higher than the national average for prisons. This was directly correlated to the issues with mental health services. A court-appointed Special Master found that 72.1% of suicides involved inadequate assessment, treatment, or intervention. Additionally, one prisoner died after complaining about abdominal pain and experiencing a five week delay in a referral to a specialist. Doctor Ronald Shansky, the former medical director for the Illinois state prison system reviewed deaths of California prisoners and concluded that extreme departures from the standard of care were widespread (Brown v. …show more content…
Plata demonstrates what can occur when a prison population is permitted to explode past the intended design capabilities of facilities. However, there is some question as to the unintended consequences to the community by releasing criminals into the community which may be an issue when proposing alternatives to incarceration. Tamara Tabo explores the increase in crime in California in 2012, the first full year after efforts to reduce California’s prison population too effect. The numbers presented are based on cities with a population over 100,000 included in the Federal Bureau of Investigation preliminary statistics on crime in the United States. Nationally murder increased by 1.5%, but 10.5% in California cities. Rape saw a decline of .3% nationally, but increased by 6.4% in California Cities. Furthermore, burglary declined by 3.6% nationally, but in California cities increased by 7.9%. Theft crimes were generally flat nationwide, but increased by 9% in California cities. Finally, auto theft increased by only 1.3% nationally, but increased by 15% in California cities (Tabo, 2013). If these numbers are indicative of a trend following the mandated prison population in California, it would appear that alternatives to incarceration have been unsuccessful. This may be a negative result of Brown v. Plata, which could hinder the advancement by other states to take action to address mass incarceration. However, the failure of these alternatives may lie in an inadequate

Related Documents