Discussion Essay Sample of the Issue of Prison and Incarceration in the United States

Published: 2019-12-10
Discussion Essay Sample of the Issue of Prison and Incarceration in the United States
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal law Punishment
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1299 words
11 min read

The term incarceration, under the criminal justice system, denotes the act of apprehending and placing a person in prison. Today, the unprecedented rise in the rate of incarceration in the United States can be attributed to the increased punitive political environment that surrounds the nations criminal justice system. The mass incarceration rate in the nation has enacted a large impact on the nations economy. This essay is a discussion of the issue of prison and incarceration in the United States through an analysis of the statistics of the nations incarceration rate as well as the impact of the high incarceration rate on the nations economy and society.

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Statistical Report of the High Rate of Prisoners in the U.S.

In the United States, incarceration is one of the primary forms of punishment and rehabilitation. It subjected to persons as a result of the performance of a felony among other offenses. The United States has the largest number of persons incarcerated in prisons compared to any other nation around the world. Its per-capita incarceration rate is considered to rank second after Seychelles. In 2013, the United States recorded a statistic of 698 persons incarcerated per every 100,000 persons (World Prison Brief). This was the nations incarceration rate for adults or persons who were tried as adults in the courts of law.

In addition, according to a report published by the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2013, an estimated 2,220,300 persons had been incarcerated in nations federal prisons, state prisons, as well as county jails (Glaze and Kaeble). In addition, approximately 4,751,400 persons in the same year were being held on parole or probation (Glaze and Kaeble). These statistics meant that in 2013, a total of 6,899,000 adults were being held under correctional supervision (Glaze and Kaeble). This was either in jail, prison, on probation as well as on parole. In addition, according to the JBS, there were approximately 54,148 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2013 (Glaze and Kaeble).

In 2014, the total number of persons who had been incarcerated in adult correctional facilities in the United States was 6,851,000 (Prisons, Jails & Probation - Overview). This number was lower than the total number of persons in correctional facilities in 2013 by 52,200 persons (Prisons, Jails & Probation - Overview). According to the JBS, in 2014, approximately one out of every 36 adults in the United States were under at least one form of correctional supervision (Glaze and Kaeble). This statistic was equivalent to about 2.8 percent of all adults living in the United States (Glaze and Kaeble). In 2016, although the number of people under incarceration has slightly declined in the United States, the impact of the high incarceration rate is significant on the nations economy.

Impact of the High Incarceration Rate on the Nations Economy

Impact to the Government

According to an article published by Femer (2016) on the Huffington Post, the United States government spends over $80 billion on incarceration as well as over $270 billion annually on the entire criminal justice system (Femer). This is a significantly high proportion of the estimated $4 trillion annual budget for the whole nation (Femer). That is at the federal, state as well as local levels. The United States hires 2.5 times more correctional officers per the total population as compared to all the other nations in different parts of the world (CRFB). In addition, according to Femers publication, in 2013, 11 states in the nation spent more funds on incarcerating persons than on higher education (CRFB).

The high proportion of the budget funds spent on incarceration in the United States restricts the sufficient allocation of funds to other sectors of the nations economy. For instance, education plays a vital role in the growth and development of a nations economy. If the United States government spent a larger amount of funds on education than it did on prisons, it is plausible that the average economic development rate of the nation would greatly increase. Other sectors of the nations economy that should be allocated sufficient funds include the health, manufacturing, agricultural, information and technology, energy, transport as well as international trade among others.

Impact on the Society

The family life of almost all economically disadvantaged persons living in the United States has become more fragile in the recent years as compared to the past decades. This is due to the challenging economic situation in the nation. This phenomenon is made worse by the high population rate of persons incarcerated in the nations correctional facilities. This is because the largest proportion of persons who are remanded in the prisons are persons from poor economic backgrounds. In addition, over half of all adult prisoners incarcerated in the United States have children below 18 years (Get the Facts). The remaining parent, more often the mother, is left with a burden of raising up the young children with limited finances.

In addition, after prisoners are released from jails, they become less equipped with having the ability to provide for their families. Past research has portrayed that serving a prison sentence is associated with a reduction in earnings, high unemployment levels as well as reduced hourly wages. Without any lawful source of income, former inmates often result to committing new forms of crimes. Consequently, most of such persons are apprehended and taken back to prison. In addition, emergent researches have portrayed that children of prisoners, especially the boys, are normally at a greater risk of behavioral problems as well developmental delays. As such, most of them end up performing criminal activities, and they result going to prison themselves.

In the United States, mass incarceration also contributes to the bad health. According to an article authored by Moroney (2007), each year, approximately 1.5 million persons under incarceration in the United States are released from prison with an infectious disease (Moroney). When such persons interact with their family members and other relatives, they are likely to infect them with various infectious diseases. As such a result, this adds the burden of financing health care services to the family members of former inmates. If such health conditions are not remedied on time, they may cause death to families, leaving you children who cannot fend for themselves.


In conclusion, the incarceration rate of persons in the United States has increased tremendously over the last few decades. This increase has been accredited to the effective punitive political environment that surrounds the nations criminal justice. However, the mass incarceration rate in the United States has become an issue affecting the nations economy. This is because the criminal justice system in the nation takes a large proportion of the annual national budget. As a result, other equally important sectors of the economy, such as education, are offered a less proportion of the nations annual financial budget. In addition, the mass incarceration rate in the nation has caused problems to most families as social units and contributed to childrens indulgence in criminal activities.

Works Cited

CRFB. Does the U.S. Spend $80 Billion a Year on Incarceration? 23 December 2015. 13 November 2016. <http://crfb.org/blogs/us-spends-80-billion-year-incarceration>.

Femer, Matt. The Full Cost Of Incarceration In The U.S. Is Over $1 Trillion, Study Finds. 13 September 2016. 13 November 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mass-incarceration-cost_us_57d82d99e4b09d7a687fde21>.

Get the Facts. Prisons, Jails, and People Arrested for Drugs. 2016. 13 November 2016. <http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Drugs#sthash.k8HhbIaQ.dpbs>.

Glaze, Lauren E. and Danielle Kaeble. Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013. 19 December 2014. 13 November 2016. <https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5177>.

Moroney, Robin. How Prisons Affect Society. 26 March 2007. 13 November 2016. <http://blogs.wsj.com/informedreader/2007/03/26/how-prisons-affect-society/>.

Prisons, Jails & Probation - Overview. 2016. 13 November 2016. <http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Jails#sthash.iXob1baz.dpbs>.

World Prison Brief. United States of America: World Prison Brief Data. 2016. 13 November 2016. <http://www.prisonstudies.org/country/united-states-america>.

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