Crisis Builds over Americas Prison System

A Brief Understanding of Prisons, and Victims by Marquis D. Canaday

The justice system is handled by the United States of America by a series of institutions that are connected to each other. With judges in the court rooms, there also are juries, prosecutors, defense counsels, public defenders, victims, and defendants. Parole, probation, and prison officials are included within part of the justice system. In addition to that, there are various means to managing those who are innocent, guilty and how to deal with the issues at hand in the court of law.

The U.S prison population in the past 10 years has risen rapidly as the population of the country increases. Today, we have nearly 800 inmates per 1,000 U.S residents. There are nearly 700,000 guards , probation officers, and parole officers combined which try to keep nearly 5 million criminals on probation along with nearly 2 million criminals housed in the federal prison population housed in nearly 1,500 state and federal prisons.

The people serving in local jails number less than 2 million and have a lesser stay than people in prisons. The prisons are for those individuals who consistantly do or have done crimes such as rape, murder, second degree murder, larceny, and armed assault. Prisons typically have repeat offenders who have a hard time adjusting to civilian life and partake in a life of crime. Since the 1980s, people have called for tougher sentencing of the convicted in hopes that the sentencing can make the individual reform.

It cost over $100,000 to house and over $200,000 to feed a convict. There are at least 41 states which provide prison populations and it gets costly annually. There are nearly 40 states which are trying to offer alternatives to cutting back on increasing prison and jail population. Some programs offered are community work and boot camp programs which are usually less expensive.

Some states and cities have gone to privitization as a remedy to the issue of overcrowding. Private independent businesses and jails have come to contractual responsibilities for prisoners. For example, the state of Texas has two prisons in 1995 and 5,000 prison beds that were managed by private firms which is better for the state’s economy.

Public concern about crime is a national issue today confronting all people involved in the criminal justice system in the United States of America. Drive by shootings, school shootings and various crimes which occur at random have captured attention of the mass media community.

Many crimes and criminals have been sensationalized in the mass media community along with the lawyers and judges who deal from within the system. The defense attorneys look for judges which are considered more liberal in the hopes that the cases can be beaten in the court. They carefully select juries in the hopes that the people will be liberal in their thinking.

The crime victim movement started at first by liberals (feminist), concerned about the very difficulty of winning prosecutions for rape and the awful treatement of women gained lots of support from the conservatives who consider today’s system as unfair to the victims. In The Victim and Crimes Act of 1984 bill, Congress authorized federal money which is distributed by the Office of Crime Victims in the Department of Justice to the victims of the crimes committed as compensation. About 20 states have a “Victim’s Bill of Rights” which makes it easier for victims of property crimes to recover their stolen items. Here are eight of the Victim’s Bill of Rights laws listed now: 1.Right to return of stolen property held in the custody of police. 2.Right to be heard when prosecutors file charges, when judges set bail and impose sentences and when parole boards consider releasing prisoners. 3.Right to receive information about the case. 4.Right to protection from intimidation. 5.Right to monetary compensation. 6.Right to be notified before the release of the attacker. 7.Right to participate in plea bargaining 8. Right to sue for civil charges.

Victims have a chance to be heard when prosecutors file formal charges. In addition to this, the judges set bail and impose sentences, and then parole boards consider the releasing of the prisoners. Almost all states compensate the victims of crimes, and have strenghtened the laws for the victims to open civil law suits for civil damages.