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Overcrowded Prisons Everywhere

The complaints are familiar; the overcrowded prison system is breaking down. There are three main causes for the dangerously overcrowded prisons: stricter sentencing by judges (especially with drug crimes), a slow justice system, and not sufficient funds to build new prisons. Is it California – no, it is Italy. The Italian prisons are at 140 percent capacity and inmates are committing suicide every year. Since 2000, 800 inmates in Italy have committed suicide. The prisons are filled with nonviolent offenders serving three year sentences or less. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ordered that Italy had just one year to improve conditions in the country’s prisons.

In California, the federal court has ordered Gov. Brown to alleviate immediately the prison crisis. The state said its 33 prisons, on average, are at 149.4% of design capacity. Nearly half of the individual prisons are much higher than that: 172% at North Kern State Prison, 187% at the Central California’s Women Facility,and the men’s section of Valley State Prison in Chowchilla is now at almost 352%. Read about California’s overcrowded prisons.

In Italy and California, some argue that the only solution is to build more prisons. Common sense should tell us that more prisons are not the solution to this world wide crisis. One Italian critic stated the “solution to overcrowding is not building new structures, because that is a system that creates its own demand: the more prisons you build, the more they will get filled,” referring to Italy’s overcrowded prisons.

In order to achieve a reduction in the number of inmates and prisons in Italy, California, and everywhere, we need to implement alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders such as effective drug programs, emphasis on community service, and reasonable restitution. For the inmates and correctional officers, the prisons need to provide safe and healthy institutions. Post incarceration, the governments and businesses have a responsibility to deliver productive reentry programs and jobs. If those who consider such measures as soft, then think about the many negative effects of a high recidivism rate upon our society.

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9 Responses to Overcrowded Prisons Everywhere

  1. PrisonPath June 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    By Willie—Bradley,Thanks for your insight, which I agree. Something more effective must be done and I truly feel that better effective educational system before going to prison will help in this matter because the person will have a better respect for self and society overall while taking the position/attitude to become a part of the solution instead of the problem. Then once a person is in prison there should be more support system in the areas of employment, housing, job training skills if necessary, and holistic support (church/ Christian community) as well as making the person fell that they are somebody special with a mind, body and soul who can once again contribute to society.

    Bradley, I am with you in our prisons are become more overcrowded. We need to take the profit out of the penal system as many are privatized.

  2. PrisonPath June 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    By Gail–Surely this must be the case. Many drug related cases have added to the population. It also causes the early release of many. I know those in prison have not out sinned the Lord Jesus’ grace. May God bless us to do a much much better job.

  3. PrisonPath June 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    By Timothy–There is a percentage of overcrowding that is due to gross misjudgment 10 years ago of our nations detention housing needs. And the cost of new construction which is dictated by architects and the regulations they have to build to. I have seen hundreds of projects stalled or cancelled due to the cost of the “approved design” of the facility to the community. Why is it that we can not create affordable detention housing from the initial design?

  4. PrisonPath June 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    By Gail–I have witnessed one over run in cost that doubled and more and caused a roll back in regard to the voters who pasted the bond. I wouldn’t be surprised if the governmental requirements drive builders into a corner.

  5. PrisonPath June 21, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    By Tim– Gail,I have seen 40-50 projects in the last 13 years get submitted by architects and shot down by referendum or the threat of a tax increase. The American tax payer is much wiser than most politicians think. They know when they are getting fleeced. If you want to see the granddaddy of all architectural abuse send me your email address and I will send you some pictures of Cook County Chicago jail. It will drop your jaw.

    When the states stopped funding mental health wards those people went on the street. And they eventually end up in the custody of the sheriff. I think if you did your math you would see that the mentally ill are what is really filling up the county jails. That doesn’t apply to state prisons. Those are other issues.

    And tell me why are the ACA and NIC standards that architects design to initially are not applied when you have to start double bunking. When they start using the gym for inmate housing. When the ratio of toilets goes from 8-1 to 40-1. Where is the ACA…then? Where is the ACLU?

  6. PrisonPath June 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    By Willie–Gail
    The ACA and ACLU isn’t where shouldn’t be and this is a clear case of inhumane treatment. From my research on my educational book Social Promotion verses Retention research has shown that many in the penal system have some form of problem that the system is ill equipped to handle.
    I am trying to get the Department of Correction and or Justice System to purchase it for use in positive steps to correct some of these problems such as prevention and some solutions that would aid in alleviating some overcrowding.

  7. PrisonPath June 25, 2013 at 1:26 am #

    By Gail–I am afraid our society’s values has left no other alternative but to lock up the non conforming and the moral decay of the same society will out produce the ability to fund a place to house them. I was talking to a friend today and come to the realization I have as many or more friends who are felons than are not.

    • Thami Naught June 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm #



  1. More Prisons vs. Rehabilitation & Mental Health Care - Prison Path Visitor Information & Inmate Locator- Prison Path - December 30, 2014

    […] Second, a special panel of three federal appellate judges ruled in 2009 that California’s prisons had to set a cap on the  exploding inmate population. The resulting court order required Gov. Brown to reduce the prison population by the end of this year by nearly 10,000 inmates. The governor has resisted repeated calls from the court panel to ease over crowding in the prisons. The judges threatened to hold him in contempt. The U.S. Supreme Court in August denied a petition from Brown requesting a  waiver of the judges’ order. The California crisis was reviewed in our article, ”Overcrowded Prisons Everywhere.“ […]

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