Prison Reform In The United States

Superior Essays
The United States currently leads the world in its prison population. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the United States represents roughly five percent of the world 's population, but has over twenty percent of the world 's prison population. Surprisingly, the United States has seen a sharp decline in the annual crime rate since the late 1990s, but incarceration rates have steadily increased. Furthermore, the United States leads the developed world with its prisoner rate, where other developed countries like France, Canada, Switzerland and the U.K. have substantially lower rates of imprisonment. Conversely, China, which is often portrayed as a police state, accounts for over nineteen percent of the world 's population, …show more content…
Some scholars have introduced alternatives especially for nonviolent offenders, while others have focused on overcrowding, improving the living conditions within the prison, and the rehabilitation process in the penal system. Although, scholars often disagree on the best approach to restructure the U.S. criminal justice system, they are almost all in agreeance that the U.S. is in dire need of prison reform. Prison reform is the focus on improving the human conditions in prisons, establishing a more effective criminal justice system, and providing alternatives to mass incarceration. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has regarded the prison system in the United States as a "human rights argument" and although, the United Nations has developed several ideas on ways in which to combat mass incarceration it would require a level of agreement between the United States and the UN in order for it to be initiated. As Thomas G. Weiss, et al. argued in The United Nations and Changing World Politics, nation-states would have to relinquish some of their own state sovereignty in order for the UN to function properly. The United States could do some good by engaging in conversation on the failures as well as the successes of the U.S. criminal justice system by consulting with outside individuals, groups, and organizations when addressing …show more content…
As an Appellate Clerk, I worked with the drug court system, which allowed nonviolent drug offenders the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation program instead of incarceration. The individual would be placed on probation during the extent of the time that would have originally been their prison sentence. For example, if it was a drug offense that required a five year sentence, the individual would be placed on a five year probation under the agreement that they remain sober and attend monthly meetings at the courthouse. This initiated some thought on my part about ways in which the U.S. as a whole can invest in alternatives to prison. A rehabilitation program would be a cost effective alternative in a number of cases, especially in regards to offenders with non-violent or drug related crimes. Furthermore, there can also be programs for first time offenders that allow them to choose between going to a trade school or something where they learn a skill set or maybe even enlisted in the military in oppose to imprisonment. To take it a step further it would also be more effective and beneficial if there was a higher level of investment in the U.S. education system instead of the prison system. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68% of State prison inmates did not receive a

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