Incarceration Vs Prison

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The United States is a prison society. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world – more than historically harsh societies such as Russia and China; we sentence people to longer sentences than other nations; and we are one of the only developed countries who still practice the death penalty. Our rate of incarceration increased a staggering 700% from 1970 to 2005 (banking on bondage pg 5, 11) and, as of 2013, 1 out of every 110 adults in the USA are in jail or prison, with a further 1 in 51 on probation or parole (Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013).
The more one studies the prison system the more one sees just how unjust it is. We treat drug addicts and people with mental illnesses the same way as violent inmates,
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The family is now reliant on one salary, and are often living in poverty. Children in poverty are more likely to have behavioral issues, which could land them in prison. (Study: For Many Ex-Offenders, Poverty Follows Prison). And here, the cycle continues, due to the new generation’s criminal behavior and criminal profiling of black neighborhoods (Nation Behind Bars pg 27). These imprisoned men are further disenfranchised even when they leave prison because they cannot vote and having a criminal record makes it much harder to find a job. (Study: For Many Ex-Offenders, Poverty Follows Prison). Not being able to vote is not a trivial matter, especially in states like South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, where more than 4% of black male residents are currently incarcerated. (Uneven Justice pg. 8) There is simply no other reasonable explanations of these figures, and of the much longer sentences that tend to be given to Black and Hispanic Americans in comparison to whites (source), than that our society is so enmeshed with our own racism that those who are opposed to it have no idea how to dismantle it. And while many factors have contributed to the boom in the prison population since 1970, many of them have an …show more content…
According to a U.S. Department of Justice report in 2006, the majority of state prison inmates (56%) convicted between 2002 and 2004 had been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness in the twelve months preceding their crimes, including diseases such as Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and various psychotic disorders such as Schizophrenia. Here are some more statistics from the Department of Justice (Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates page 1):
State prisoners who had a mental health problem were twice as likely as State prisoners without to have been injured in a fight since admission (20% compared to 10%).
State prisoners who had a mental health problem (27%) were over two times more likely than those without (10%) to report being physically or sexually abused in the past.
State prisoners who had a mental health problem were twice as likely as those without to have been homeless in the year before their arrest (13% compared to 6%).
Despite these clear statistical differences between the life circumstances of those with mental illnesses and those without, a judge or prosecutor has no obligation to take any of these things into account and often cannot take them into account if the person involved is facing a mandatory minimum

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