Americas prison system needs an overhaul. Many states are desperately trying to formulate a more reasonable system of classification of violent and non-violent offenders, along with an increase in probation officers so that many non-violent, minimum security offenders are being placed on supervision rather than jail or prison in order to ease overcrowding and reduce the over whelming state budgets.
How much is the Prison system costing Americans?
America’s prison system has become a pressing issue for local and state budgets. Statistically there are over 2.3 million inmates’ in U.S. prisons. Corrections are the second fastest growing state budget category, and state leaders from both parties are now finding that there are research-based strategies for low-risk offenders that can reduce crime at far less cost than prison. According to the Pew report, one in every 28 children in America has a parent behind bars, up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago. (For blacks, the figure is one out of every nine children).
Pew estimates that the direct cost of this surge in state imprisonment now exceeds $50-billion per year, eating up in every 15 general fund dollars.www.ibtimes.com/articles/77714. One in 87 working age white males is in prison, 1 in 36 Hispanic and 1 in 12 African American males are in prison. Incarceration reduces the economic mobility of the former inmate by 40%. Many of those incarcerated do not have a high school diploma, which will make them more difficult to gain employment upon release from prison. One of the major issues facing states with large prison populations is the fact that many of the inmates upon release from prison face almost impossible odds of gaining employment. Many companies will not hire convicted felons although some states have enacted Ex-offender employment programs which have helped find jobs for many recently released inmates. Inmates convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors face discrimination in trying to secure housing after release from prison, adding to the number unemployed and the homeless population. The alarming rate at which prison populations are increasing have prompted some lawmakers to seek other alternatives for non-violent offenders to repay their debts to society rather than following the lock’-them- up-and- throw- away- the- key attitude of past lawmakers. A Republican legislator recommended sentencing non-violent inmates to structured work release programs along with drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs which would reduce incarceration time and save money. Rep. Madden was the chair person of the Texas corrections committee 2005, following the governor of Texas’ directive to relieve prison overcrowding and reduce its $ 500 million dollar annual corrections budget in 2005, Rep. Madden formulated a plan to spend more money on research into the problems that lead to many individuals who committed crimes and invested the states money in these programs. An Investment in alternative programs has helped reduce the overcrowding and the rate of repeat offenders in the state of Texas and has proven that a preventative approach will help reduce prison cost and overcrowding. http://www.timesdaily.com .