Discussion of the Issue of Prison and Incarceration in the U.S.

Published: 2019-12-10 08:00:00
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The unprecedented rise in the rate of incarceration in the U.S can be attributed to the increased punitive political environment that surrounds the nations criminal justice system (Edwards and Wattenberg, 2014). The mass incarceration rate in the U.S. has enacted a large negative impact on the U.S. economy and society. This is a discussion of the issue of prison and incarceration in the U.S. 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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In the U.S. confinement is one of the primary forms of chastisement and rehabilitation. It is subjected to persons as a result of the performance of a felony among other offenses. The U.S. has the leading number of persons incarcerated in prisons compared to any other country around the world. Its per-capita rate of persons incarceration is measured 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, 2016). This was the countrys rate of incarceration for all adults as well as persons who were tried in the courts of law as adults.

In addition, according to a report published by the BJS in 2013, approximately 2,220,301 persons had been incarcerated in the U.S. federal prisons, state prisons, as well as county jails (Glaze and Kaeble, 2014). In addition, approximately 4,751,401 persons in the same year were being held on parole or probation (Glaze and Kaeble, 2014). These statistics meant that in 2013, a total of 6,899,000 adults were being incarcerated under a correctional supervision (Glaze and Kaeble, 2014). 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, 2014).

In 2014, the total number of persons who had been incarcerated in adult correctional facilities in the United States was 6,852,000 (Prisons, Jails & Probation Overview 1). This number was lower than the total number of persons in correctional facilities in 2013 by 52,200 persons (Prisons, Jails & Probation Overview, 2016). According to the JBS, in 2014, approximately one out of every 36 adults in the United States were under at least one system of correctional management. (Glaze and Kaeble, 2014). This statistic was equivalent to about 2.8 percent of all adults living in the United States (Glaze and Kaeble, 2014). 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 countrys economy. There are several impacts that the high incarceration rate has had on the society and economy of the U.S.

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, 2016). This is a significantly high proportion of the estimated $4 trillion annual budget for the whole country (Femer, 2016). 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 countries in different parts of the world (CRFB, 2015). In addition, according to Femers publication, in 2013, 11 states in the U.S. spent more funds on incarcerating persons than on higher education (CRFB, 2015).

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 countrys 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 countrys economy that should be allocated sufficient funds include the health, manufacturing, agricultural, information and technology, energy, transport as well as international trade among others.

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 U.S. 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, 2016). 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, 2007). 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 United States criminal justice. However, the mass incarceration rate in the United States has become an issue affecting the countrys economy. This is because the criminal justice system in the U.S. 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 U.S. has caused problems to most families as social units and contributed to childrens indulgence in criminal activities.

Works Cited

BIBLIOGRAPHY CRFB. (2015, December 23). Does the U.S. Spend $80 Billion a Year on Incarceration? . Retrieved November 13, 2016, from Committee For a Responsible Federal Budget: http://crfb.org/blogs/us-spends-80-billion-year-incarceration

Edwards, George C. and Wattenberg, Martin P. Government in America: 2014 Election Edition; Book a La Carte Edition. Pearson College Div, 2014.

Femer, M. (2016, September 13). The Full Cost Of Incarceration In The U.S. Is Over $1 Trillion, Study Finds. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mass-incarceration-cost_us_57d82d99e4b09d7a687fde21

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

Glaze, L. E., & Kaeble, D. (2014, December 19). Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS): https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5177

Moroney, R. (2007, March 26). How Prisons Affect Society. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from The Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/informedreader/2007/03/26/how-prisons-affect-society/

Prisons, Jails & Probation - Overview. (2016). Retrieved November 13, 2016, from Get the Facts: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Jails#sthash.iXob1baz.dpbs

World Prison Brief. (2016). United States of America: World Prison Brief Data. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from World Prison Brief (WPB): http://www.prisonstudies.org/country/united-states-america

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