The United States of America constitute 5% of the worlds population. More than 25% of this population has been incarcerated (Jones "It is Time to Reform our Failed Prison System). As of May 2014, the number of Americans behind the bars was 6.9 million. This figure is eight times higher as compared to that in 1970. The number is horrifying as it is drastically increasing every day. Consequently, the cost of maintaining the prisoners has proportionally increased to amount to more than $80 billion every year (Jones "Newt Gingrich and Van Jones: Prison System is Failing America). Statistics indicate that one in every three African-American male born in the USA, are likely to spend part of their life in prison. The number is significantly higher compared to one in every six Hispanics and one in every twenty-five white males. It will have been fairer for the taxpayers and the entire society if the prisoners are corrected and restored to their normal living where they can become productive individuals in the society. However, it is demolra3izing to note that, after release, more than half of the prisoners are convicted of another crime and 25% end up back in the prison. This is a clear indication that the criminal justice system has failed, and it needs to be reformed.
The purpose of the American criminal justice system was to correct, and restore the offenders to the community, having made them law abiding and self-sufficient individuals that can be reliable in the society (Bundy "A Failing Criminal Justice System). Nevertheless, this has not been the case. The criminal justice system seems wasting resources and peoples lives rather than correcting behaviors of the offenders. More so, the system is contributing to cultural degradation, family breakdown while promoting the dependency on the public aid programs.
The controversy in the United States criminal justice system can be traced back to the days of President George W. Bush where strict laws towards the offenders were passed (Mikkelsen "U.S. Prison System A Costly And Harmful Failure: Report). The tougher enforcement actions that were adopted since then have made America have the highest crime rate in the world. Sentences have become unusually long even for petty crimes, leading to overpopulation of the prisons in the United States. The impact is so obvious, as the employment in the prison system has increased by one million increasing the burden on the taxpayers. A report produced by the JFA institution further projects that the prison population is likely to escalate in the next five years by another 192,000 individuals increasing the cost proportionally to $27.5 billion (Mikkelsen "U.S. Prison System A Costly And Harmful Failure: Report). Considering the impact the criminal justice system is having on the lives of the America, it is high time the American correction system gets reformed otherwise more time, resources, families and peoples lives will be wasted. The correction reform measured to be applied should focus on increasing public safety, saving taxpayers money and correcting the offenders in the most efficient manner possible to ensure that they take minimal time in the prison yet have gained from the correctional system.
Redirecting the non-violent offenders to other less strict correction forms such as community supervised will play a significant role in solving the problem facing the American correction system (Perkinson "Rick Perry, Criminal Justice Reformer?). This move can be seen as a down up approach because it will allow the non-violent offenders to stay out of prison while maintaining the violent offenders in the prisons for public safety. It will save the non-violent offenders from becoming hardened criminals while allowing the violent offenders to become law abiding citizens and productive people in the society once they are released from the prisons. Such a reformation model has been seen to work effectively in Georgia. Following its implementation, this model has reduced the incarceration rate by 20% in Georgia by minimizing the harsh penalties for nonviolent offenders (Perkinson "Rick Perry, Criminal Justice Reformer?). The model proportionally reduced the prison spending. After noting the impact, the model is making Mississippi State followed suit, hence it should be adopted by other States as well.
The use of parole, probation and sentencing tactic that was introduced by the Texas Governor Rick Perry has been seen to work effectively on reforming the broken American correction systems (Rosen "Prisoners of Parole"). The Texas model focuses on utilizing the resources in treating the non-violent offenders rather than harshly punishing them. It has proven so effective that it cut the cost for the newly proposed 17,000 prison beds leading to the closing of some prisons (Perkinson "Rick Perry, Criminal Justice Reformer?). Among the Perrys successful tactics is the county-based program for the juvenile offenders. This program allows the pardoning of the juvenile delinquents who are found in the possession of the drugs, yet are they test negative after the crime lab results. Rather than taking them to incarceration, this model allows the young offenders to be taken for rehabilitation programs where they receive education, and they can become law-abiding citizens who are more productive to the society. Other programs that have been found effective include the prisoner education, sentencing mitigation, inmate health care and probation diversion (Chen "Goldman to Invest in New York City Jail Program"). A similar model has been adopted in Hawaii under the leadership of Judge Steven Alm, and it has been seen to reduce the violations through the application of immediate, predictable, and proportionate consequences.
The California State has also come up with an outstanding correction system reformation program named the Safe Neighborhood and School Act. The California proposed reformation program aim at establishing measures that will minimize the incarceration of the nonviolent criminals and to encourage investing in crime education, prevention, and treatment (Jones "Newt Gingrich and Van Jones: Prison System is Failing America). Following its implementation, this Reformation Act targeted to change six low-level offenses that have considerably increased the number of criminals in the California cells. For instance, the Act proposed the changing of drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. Rather than spending the enormous amount of money on prisons, the pioneers of this Act intended to have the money invested in victim services, health, and drug treatment as well as K-12 schools. Due to its effectiveness, the California criminal justice Reformation Act received significant support from the business groups, musicians, crime survivors and clergy. The Reformation Act received a support margin of 59.41% an indication that the taxpayers are tired of the expensive correction system that is doing very little or nothing at all, and they want a change to a more effective justice and correction system (Jones "Newt Gingrich and Van Jones: Prison System is Failing America).
Another measure that can be incorporated in the reformation of the American correction system is the implementation of educational programs in prisons, which will help the inmates to earn a living after they are released from the prison. If applied appropriately, this measure will reduce the number of criminals who return to jail after they are released. The reform will ensure that the prisoners utilize their time in prison learning skills that can help them become independent without involving in criminal activities. The education tactic can make use of the online education programs to sharpen the inmates skills at minimal or no cost at all. Khan Academy, for example, has introduced the entire K-12 curriculum online for free. Such resources should be adopted for use in the prisons to help equip the offenders with skills and to change their entire perception of life so that they can become independent, law-abiding citizens that are productive in the society.
Changing the entire correction system in the United States is possible. Various states have proved that their mechanisms are working at the state level to minimize the prisons overcrowding, costs, and to increase the number of victims who do not get back to prisons upon their release. Such mechanisms can be adopted and combined to formulate the entire federal law that will cut across all the States so that the impact can be felt in the whole of the United States of America. To achieve this, the existing correction system and laws governing it need to be completely abolished, and new laws that will support rehabilitating the criminal should be put in place. Such laws should focus more on community-based restrictions on the non-violent offenders to keep the criminals in contact with their families and at the same time within the law restrictions. Additionally, the new correction system should emphasize of helping the inmates to build new skills by equipping them academically and providing them with new manual skills that they can depend on upon the release from the prisons. With such measures in place, there will be a low likelihood of having the released criminals getting back to the prisons.
Bundy, Denise. "A Failing Criminal Justice System - Nytimes.Com". Nytimes.com. N.P., 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Chen, David. "Goldman to Invest In New York City Jail Program". Nytimes.com. N.P., 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Jones, Newt. "It's Time To Reform Our Failed Prison System (Opinion) - CNN.Com". CNN. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Jones, Newt. "Newt Gingrich And Van Jones: Prison System Is Failing America - CNN.Com". CNN. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Mikkelsen, Randall. "U.S. Prison System A Costly And Harmful Failure: Report". Reuters. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Perkinson, Robert. "Rick Perry, Criminal Justice Reformer? The GovernorS Surprisingly Complicated Record.". New Republic. N.p., 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Rosen, Jeffrey. "Prisoners Of Parole". Nytimes.com. N.p., 2010. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
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