Rise In Prison Population

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The Rise in Prison Population can be Attributed to the Increased Rates of Incarceration for Nonviolent Drug Offenders and Three-Strike Laws

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The paper explores the hot button issue of overcrowding in prison is because of incarceration of non-violent drug offenders and three-strike laws. The key implications of non-violent drug offenders' imprisonment are increase in cost of government and taxpayers, and overpopulated the prisons. Moreover, incarceration of non-violent offenders results in decrease morale and increases in probability that these non-violent drug abusers become violent offenders. Moreover, incarceration of non-violent drug offenders cause a number of psychological implications and instead of being rehabilitated, they get exposure to violent crimes. Hence, these non-violent drug offenders become violent offenders rather than returned to productive role and community service.

The Rise in Prison Population can be Attributed to the Increased Rates of Incarceration for Nonviolent Drug Offenders and Three-Strike Laws


Over the last eleven years, there is a massive increase in the number of prisoners of about more than 45 percent; and since 1990, the number of jail inmates increased at a tripled rate. One of the major causes of this increase is the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders. Overcrowding in prison is because the jails become a place of rehabilitation for drug offenders. In the year 2010, the number of drug offenders is increased by approximately one third in comparison to 2000; however, the percentage remain constant at 50 percent of the total federal prisoners in the year 1990.


The obligation of minimum ruling plays a vital role in overcrowding of prisons. This law was enacted in the year 1986, which mandate fixed verdicts to crime offenders, despite of mitigating factors and culpability. This compulsion was instituted to capture key player in the distribution network of drugs. The idea was quite sound if it worked, in reality, over 80 percent of drug defendants are drug mules and low-level sellers. This obligatory minimum sentence is a key contributor in increasing the population of prisons. The facts and figures demonstrated that from the year 1985 to 1995, there was an enormous increase of over 80 percent in the federal prison population just because of drug convictions, as per the Drug Policy Alliance (Kirchhoff, 2010). Overpopulation in jails is directly related to the drug offenders' conviction. However, there is a room for many violent felons and non-violent criminals in order to be released on parole.

Other key contributor in the overpopulation of prisons is the three strikes law, which played a significant role in increasing population of prison. This law was intended to control the rates of recidivism. In essence, this law states that after committing third offense, a person is entitled for twenty five to life in jail. Under three strikes laws, number of defendants was sent to prisons who are non-violent repeat criminals. The main aim of this law was to prevent violent offenses; however, the domino effect has been that offenders with a past of minor crimes, like ...
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