America is the Land of the Free… or is it? Currently, the United States hold nearly a quarter of the world’s prison population. While there is no debate about criminality of certain vile offenses, many are locked behind bars for smaller crimes. Every prisoner is a deduction from the workforce as well as a financial liability to the rest of society. When prisoners get out, many are behind bars once again due to another offense. There are a number of things wrong with the prison system in the U.S., but here is a list of a few:
- Many prisoners are reincarcerated soon after their release from prison
- Every incarceration is the removal of that individual from the family structure
- Prisoners cost taxpayers billions of dollars per year
- Corporations profit from maximal imprisonment and cheap labor from the prisoners
- Over-policing creates an invasive climate amongst the people they have sworn to serve
The cost of prisoners has a different monetary value from state to state, but the estimates show the average cost per prisoner is over $30,000. While society may bear the costs of a few prisoners, large inmate numbers have created a hold on government spending. At nearly 1.4 million prisoners, the cost to taxpayers in over 40 billion dollars. This is just to hold prisoners in cells. The costs quickly add up with the addition of population being jailed or under other correctional situations.
Imagine this. Over 1 million people are freed from prison. Hundreds of thousands of families have their family members back. Families gain the support they need to operate more effectively. Citizens are put back into the workplace.
There are certainly many challenges and barriers to achieving that, but with the current system, that will never be a possibility. The dehumanization prisoners experience in prison puts them back on the path to wrecking their own lives and the well-being of their communities once they are released. Yes, Prisoners must be punished for their crimes, but the prison system needs a radical change in order to release these people as functional members of our society.