American Prison Reform

American Prison Reform

Evelyn Jenkins

The United States prison system is incredibly flawed. According to the ACLU, The United States has 25% of the world’s prison population, yet it only makes up 5% of the global population. Also, since 1970, our prison population has increased by 700%. With 2.3 million people in prison, mass incarceration prevails to be a dangerous issue.

Besides the massive number of prisoners that each local, federal, and state jail holds, it is also important to see the terrible way of life prison is. Harassment, rape, and other cruel and unusual punishment is commonplace when in jail. Going to jail is just about learning how to survive, not about rehabilitation.

According to the National Institute of Justice, a study that tracked 404,638 prisoners released in 2005 found that within five years, 76.6% of these released prisoners were rearrested. With no support system for many people out of jail, they fall back into crime. It is a common knowledge that going to prison just allows you to become a better criminal.

Other countries such as Norway have more progressive prison systems. Of course, Norway has a lot smaller prison population, with only 4,000 of the country’s 5 million people were incarcerated. That is probably because Norway has a focus on rehabilitation of prisoners–Only 20% of individuals were rearrested.

In Norway, their prison system is focused on retaining normalcy. There are no bars on windows, less aggressive guards, and kitchens with sharp objects allowed. The idea behind this system is to rehabilitate. Here, the punishment is based on serving the time in prison–removing freedom. Here, life is kind of normal. They treat the prisoners like human beings, and not monsters.

The topic of how to handle the United States prison system is a very divisive one. Lakewood High School Autumn Cruz says, “The prison system in America is flawed and doesn’t focus on the actually “bad” people out there but only on people it feels like targeting (aka drug dealers instead of rapists).”