Prison Overcrowding Capstone Project

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With more people in the same confined space, anyone in it can just contribute his or her tensions. This is, of course, create more problems. Someone is always likely to lose control, snap and turn violent. Misconduct will increase (Mangino).

The federal budget of $6.4 billion in 2011 went up to $6.6 billion this year and will further go up to $6.8 billion (Mangino, 2012). This year's budget allots $153 million for prison reentry and jail diversion programs. $80 million is allotted for the Second Chance Act and $50 million as grants for drug courts, as mentally ill offender assistance, and other problem-solving measures. President Obama is cognizant that a new direction prison funding is strongly warranted. One focus may be federal over-criminalization. The number of federal crimes increased from a handful only a little more than 50 years ago to more than 4,000 today. The Wall Street Journal pointed to the increasing number of federal crimes as accountable for the corresponding increase in offenders sent to federal prison. It must also be noted that the American population rose 36% in just the last three decades. Alongside, the overall federal prison population increased more than 8 times, twice that of the state prison population's. It is feared that investing in re-entry services would encourage a cycle of re-incarceration. Only a truly fearless circumspection can shape initiatives that can finally reduce the un-restrained boom in prison population (Mangino).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Capstone Project on Prison Overcrowding Assignment

By a Supreme Court ruling, the state of California undertook a measure that would reduc its prison population by 137% in two years (CCN, 2011). This percentage was equivalent to 109,462 prisoners. The five-year plan started in November 2009 and would pursue reductions through sentencing reforms. It would add "no-prison" felonies. These would incur imprisonment of less than 366 days, serve as alternatives to custody, provide for a gracious credit system, and fewer re-entries by parolees. Those convicted of any of 7 felonies would be imposed shorter sentences in country jails instead of state prisons. These felonies include possession of prohibited or controlled substances, such as cocaine; possession of the same substances, such as methamphetamine; check fraud; miscellaneous larceny; receiving stolen goods or property; petty theft plus a conviction for another offense; and theft plus a conviction of another offense. The plan furthermore continues the transfer of prisoners to facilities outside the state. Those convicted of non-serious, non-violent or non-sexual offenses will eventually send them to county jails. Deviating them from state prisons will save California about $459 million, according to the governor's office. At the same time, overcrowding at the state corrections facilities would ease greatly (CCN).

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion (CCN, 2011). Its justification was that the decision would reduce much "needless suffering and death." No other measure was effective while this litigation awaited the Supreme Court verdict. It took serious note of the widespread frustration over failed efforts to solve severe overcrowding at the state's prisons. There were a few, which temporarily worked, but were soon overthrown by the long-term effects of severe and extensive overcrowding (CCN).

LB 907 for Nebraska's Prison System

This major prison reform law, introduced by Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha, Nebraska, was aimed at reducing the state's prison population and its recidivism rates while preserving citizen safety and cutting down on costs (Kintner, 2014). Its prison population bloated at 155% of its original design capacity. It was also motivated by the murder of four persons by a convict, Nikko Jenkins, who was released under the state's "good time" law. This law cut a day off a prisoner's sentence for every one day that he does not commit an offense (Kintner).

The main features of LB 907 were the computer tracking of parolees released into society; a prisoner's re-entry into society after serving 80% of his sentence; the search for areas in the state with shortage of legal practitioners by the Commission of Public Advocacy; and cooperation between the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Working Group and the Council of State Governments for ways to reduce prison populations (Kintner, . Citizens of Nebraska are required to monitor the strict implementation of the law. Another bill would be needed to bring about the automatic half-sentence reduction (Kintner).

Day Reporting Measure for Carbon County

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein of the Country prison board discussed the feasibility of the day reporting scheme being practiced by Luzerne County in reducing inmate population in Carbon County (Miller, 2014). Luzerne County allows qualified non-violent offenders, such as DUI, to serve part of their sentence beyond County prisons. Commissioner Nothstein explained that a one-year sentence, for example, may be served in prison for 6 months and the other 6 at a day reporting center. Daily reporting during this second 6 months may be spent by receiving treatment and attending advanced programs. Besides reducing overcrowding in prison, this reporting scheme was also aimed at discouraging repeat offenders. Commissioner Nothstein was, however, worried about the cost it would entail. The scheme would only be on an experimental basis and gave no assurance of solving the problem. Some members of the board shared his apprehension about costs (Miller).

Commissioner Northstein said that prison expansion might be their option if no other measure could arrest overcrowding without incurring much cost (Miller, 2014). But expanding prisons would cost the state millions of dollars, he added. He told the prison board that he would like to look into the day reporting operations of Union City (Miller).

IV. Discussion

Analysis and Interpretation of Results

The United States has the highest rates of prison overcrowding in the world with Canada as fourth (John Howard, 1996). A continuously increasing prison population and the decrease in resources are the overall causes. The prison population has exceeded both the original design of facilities and the dwindling resources for inmates. Research reveals that overcrowding has led to stiff competition over limited resources, aggression, illnesses, recidivism and suicides. What is needed are effective but inexpensive intervention measures (Howard). Mangino (2012) discusses that the lack of appropriate programming and the lack of privacy have massive adverse effects on the inmates and the prison staff. He stresses that the combination of prison overcrowding and understaffing would spell disaster to the prison system. This was why the budget for the prison system kept on increasing to its current $6.8 billion. President Obama admits that a new direction is needed to effectively address the critical condition. Federal over-criminalization and the spiraling number of prisoners may be the causes (Mangino). The State of California put to use a five-year plan, which would reduce its prison population by 137% in two years from 2011 (CCN, 2014). This plan evolved from sentencing reforms, which would reduce the number of convicts who will be imprisoned, rather than release those who are already behind walls. These reforms are no-prison felonies, which are feasible alternatives to custody. At the same time, they provide for a more liberal credit system to prisoners. Those serving shorter sentences are sent to county jails. The 5-year plan would save California $459 (CCN). Nebraska's response to the search for answers is LB 907 (Kintner, 201). It would attempt to bring down the swollen prison population, now 155 in excess of its original design, through its four-point agenda. These are the computer-tracking of paroled prisoners; the release of prisoners who have served 80% of their sentence; identification of areas that lack legal practitioners; and cooperative efforts between a justice reinvestment group and the state government (Kintner). Carbon County Commissioner initially suggested the adoption of a day reporting center initiative in bringing down the overflowing prison population (Miller, 2014). He and his team observed these practices from Luzerne County. These practices allow qualified non-violent offenders, such as DUI violators, to serve half their sentence in prison and half to a reporting center. When reporting to the center, they receive treatment and attend advanced programs (Miller). And the State of Connecticut identified the overall factors and sub-factors of prison overcrowding (CT).

Meaning of Findings

Certain studies and authors identified the causes and factors of prison overcrowding. California, Nebraska, Connecticut and Carbon County presented their respective solutions to this nagging problem.


California's 5-year plan and Nebraska's LB907 offer effective approaches to reducing prison overcrowding at affordable cost while keeping the citizens safe and even realizing some savings. These approaches provide the answer to the research question. #


CCN (2011). Sentencing reform key to prisoner reduction plan. California Coast News:

California .Coast retrieved on August 27, 2014 from

CT (2000). What is causing prison overcrowding? Department of Corrections: State of Connecticut. Retrieved on August 28, 2014 from

John Howard (1996). Prison overcrowding. John Howard Society of Alberta. Retrieved on August 27, 2014 from

Kintner, B. (2014). A start to solving prison… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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