All one ever hears these days regarding prisons is OVERCROWDING, OVERCROWDING! So what should be done about this??? Releasing that many felons CANNOT be a good thing. So what is the answer to prison overcrowding?
If we weren’t imprisoning people for non-violent drug offenses (such as possession), overcrowding wouldn’t be as bad.
Funding is definately a problem. When the corrections system goes in the red, the state closes a prison to save money, stuffing the inmates into another prison, and cutting staff. Tough On Crime politicians are willing to fund police, but often don’t fund the prisons. More people are arrested, but there is less room to hold them.
Unfortunately, this is a recipe for disaster. Overcrowded inmates are understandably tense, and with less staff to keep them in line, sometimes riots occur.
So, the answer isn’t necessarily to build more prisons. First of all, send less people to prison for non-violent offenses. Make 'em work off their crimes with community service. Secondly, keep prisons open by increasing funding. Politicians get kudos for being tough on crime, but people don’t want to pay for it.
No one in this thread has raised the privatization issue yet. I want to go on record as saying that it’s a bad idea. Private prisons, as a whole, have poorly trained, poorly paid staff, badly maintained buildings, and have more escapes than state-run facilities. It may save the state a bit of money, but it puts the citizens at risk.
Being in a bit of an economic pinch right now, states are cutting funding to prisons, and diverting it to education. In my state, dozens of new schools are being built while its said that soon another prison will close. From a public safety standpoint (and the safety of the prison employees) I wonder if it was a good decision.