Free Essay on the Issue of Overcrowding in Criminal Justice Correction Facilities

Published: 2022-05-25
Free Essay on the Issue of Overcrowding in Criminal Justice Correction Facilities
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Penal system
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1181 words
10 min read

Criminal justice corrections involve treatment, supervision, and punishment of persons found guilty of crimes. The functions of a criminal justice correction involve imprisonment, probation, and parole. Normally, people convicted of criminal activities are put in correctional facilities such as prisons and jail. In the contemporary world, people subvert the law, a situation that makes them put under correctional facilities. The ramification for this has been increased population pressure in jails and prisons which has led to overcrowding of correctional facilities. Typically, due to stringent laws, unaffordable bails, and high levels of crimes, there have been cases of overcrowding in correctional facilities that have prompted most governments to develop strategies meant to avert overcrowding.

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In a bid to avert criminal activities, most governments enact stringent laws and policies meant to curb crimes. As a result, people who break these rules are thrown into correctional facilities as a penal measure which puts pressure on limited correctional facilities such as prisons. In particular, Johnson and Johnson (2012) pinpoint that from the 1970s, the US adopted tough policies that were tailored towards curbing criminal activities. The initiatives resulted in the incarceration explosion in prisons across the US which led to overcrowding problems. The researchers reveal that after stringent policies were adopted the number of inmates in the US prisons was highest in the world, which was 753 convicts for every 10,000 persons. The researchers further elucidate that prior to 1970s, there were only less than 300,000 prisoners in US jails. However, after the adoption of stringent policies, many people were arrested, charged and imprisoned. Currently, the number of convicts in the US jails stand at about 1.6 million.

The inability to afford bail for most convicts has been another reason that has led to increased overcrowding in jails. It is worthy to understand that jail is a correctional facility or institution that is used to hold those who are accused of committing crimes, particularly those deemed dangerous as they await the trial process. Persons accused of less serious cases or those who are presumed less dangerous are required to pay cash bail or equivalent in order to set free from jail. Unfortunately, the bail may be too high for some individuals to afford, given their poor background, which makes them be locked in jails as their trial progresses in the court of law. In cases where the accused is considered to have intentions of fleeing a given country, the bail is normally set too high, which leaves the accused with no otherwise but remain in detention (Jones, 2013).

The high crime rate is also attributed to jail or prison overcrowding. Imperatively, when criminal activities are high, jails tend to be overpopulated as more people are arrested and detained. Increased levels of poverty and unemployment among the youthful population in the world has resulted in increased crime rates as most youngsters resort to criminal activities such as robbery with violence in a bid to cater for their daily needs. Subsequently, many people have been arrested and detained in correctional facilities, thereby leading to overcrowding in jails. In this empirical research, Tonry (2014) observes that the US experienced overcrowding problems between the 1960s and 1990s due to increased crime rates at the time, a situation that prompted the government to strategize on how to avert this menace.

The rising cases of overcrowding in correctional institutions require strategic measures tailored towards alleviating the problem. There are several ways that the government can instigate to curb overcrowding. Johnson and Johnson (2012) suggest that underrating reforms on arrest policies can help ease the congestion in correctional activities. The researchers advocate for the modification of the tough arrest policies such that those people accused of misdemeanor offenses can be released on non-financial bonds which will prove pivotal in easing congestion in correctional facilities. By so doing, inability to pay bails as a cause of overcrowding will be averted.

There is an urgent need to expand jail capacities to accommodate the ever-increasing number of convicts. In particular, areas with high crime rate prevalence require jails with larger capacities to solve overcrowding issues. A research by Lofstrom and Kramer (2012) revealed that the US has constraints on correctional facilities as some jails have excess capacities while others have smaller capacities. The researchers further noted that low capacity correctional facilities have an influx of inmates which lead to overcrowding. Expanding the capacity of such institutions will prove pivotal as a long-lasting solution for overcrowding. However, it is essential to note that this is not a good way of averting overcrowding issue as it encourages more criminal activities.

Alternative correctional strategies can prove vital in solving overcrowding menace in a correctional institution. Most people who engage in criminal activities are people with psychological and social problems. Owing to this fact, the government can develop programs that will be tailored towards offering vocational training to the youths so that they have the requisite skills needed to engage in a productive work for income. This will confine their mindset to constructive activities thus the level of crimes will decrease. Consequently, few youths will be taken into custody thus no overcrowding will be noted in correctional activities. Another strategy will be to impose instant direct fines as well as restitution as punishment modes for petty crimes. This will ensure that people who have committed petty crimes are not detained hence a remedy to overcrowding in jails. Apart from this suggestion, the government needs to encourage community sentencing in which offenders are put under the community's custody who impose restrictive conditions on them. This will not only help in decongesting jails but also make the convict benefit from community rehabilitation services.

In conclusion, correctional activities are important for every country. They provide help in correcting, punishing, and supervising those convicted of criminal activities. However, overcrowding of correctional facilities has been a menace as far as the criminal justice system is concerned. For this matter, there is a need to avert overcrowding in correctional facilities to ensure that the health conditions in these institutions are manageable. Several factors such as stringent laws, unaffordable bails, and high levels of crimes, among other factors have contributed to overcrowding in jail, a situation that has led to poor health conditions in correctional institutions. Some of the ways include reducing bail price so that most people are able to bail themselves out of jails to create more space. Also, the government needs to encourage its citizens to adopt community sentencing which will have additional benefits to the accused persons. By so doing, criminal activities will decline which consequently leads to a reduction in overcrowding of correctional institutions.


Johnson, M., & Johnson, L. A. (2012). Bail: Reforming policies to address overcrowded jails, the impact of race on detention, and community revival in Harris County, Texas. Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy. 7(1), 43-87.

Jones, C. E. (2013). Give us free: Addressing racial disparities in bail determinations. Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals, 16, 919.

Lofstrom, M., & Kramer, K. (2012). Capacity challenges in California's jails. Public Policy Institute of California.

Tonry, M. (2014). Why crime rates are falling throughout the Western world. Crime and justice, 43(1), 1-63.

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