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Fundamentally, rehabilitation is the core objective of correction institutions, irrespective of whether they are juvenile centers, prisons or any other forms. However, drastic economic and social changes have greatly impacted on the yearly admittances to these correctional institutions. Some of the principal ongoing managerial issues resulting from these economic, social or even environmental changes include; overcrowding in the correctional facilities, changing trends in the prison population, increase in the numbers of drug-related offenders, improvements of prison conditions and inadequacy of effective treatment programs (JHSA, 1996). This paper narrows down to the problem of overcrowding in prisons, since it has been (for quite some time) the priority agenda the most of the reforms in prisons.
Overcrowding in Prisons
Overcrowding in prisons has become a pressing issue to the Criminal Justice Administration. Many prison departments in various nations have become considerably stunned by the explosion of the prison population. More often than not, this problem of prison overcrowding arises from the rising numbers of social problems the countries are facing as a result of the drastic changes in the social, economic and political conditions in these countries. In addition, the exclusive dependence on imprisonment for offenders has also made measurable contribution to prison overcrowding (Stojkivic, 2010). Factually, the criminal justice system has emphasizes a great deal of the significance of imprisonment as the primary way of putting off crime and providing defense to the society. Another reason for overcrowding is the illegal influx of foreign nationals to the United States. These people are held in correctional facilities before they are eventually deported to their countries of origin, and this takes a long time. In addition, imprisonment has over time been taken to be the prime method of punishment. As a result, a greater percentage of the offenders have ended up been imprisoned, which is necessary, as a result of the running out of alternatives. Another cause of prison overcrowding is the rise in drug-related offenses and long-term serving convicts. In the past decade, drugs-related offenses have actually doubled, and the prisoners in this category tend to serve longer sentence terms. Besides, those facing serious cases that are drugs-related spend two to three years on average in remand centers before being acquitted or sentenced. Overcrowding in prisons has also been a function of the inability of the prison facilities to increase the capacity with the influx of the prison populace (Omar, n.d.).
With such a degree of overcrowding in these correctional facilities, the strain is on the prison budgets, staff and running of the prison programs, and the situation might be quite intolerable. Factually, the ratio between the prison staff and the prisoners is alarming, and this gives rise to high stress levels among the officers. Since the prison workers are not in a position to execute their obligations in an efficient and effective manner, their morale gets to be indirectly negatively affected. Inadequate resources, technical equipment and lack of space facilities have been a stumbling block for the prison department to provide the prisoners with holistic educational, training, and work opportunities following the reality that the prisoners are more than they can adequately cater for (Taylor, 2011). Additionally, prison overcrowding slows down the department’s efforts to effectively institute international standards and particularly the United States Minimum Rules. As thus, these relatively poor conditions of living cause both stress and tension for the officers, as well as the prisoners. As a result of this acute problem, the department is also not well enabled to carry out categorization of the prisoners, especially in the event that they have to undergo a certain designated program. With prisoners from various categories being intermingled, stressful conditions are increased, as a result (ALEC, 2007).
Policies by Manager Geared Towards Overcoming Prison Overcrowding
Prison managers have seriously perceived the above highlighted serious effects of the problem of prison overcrowding. In these respect, therefore, policies have, thus, been instituted by the managements with the aim of availing both short-term and long-term solutions to this scaring problem. Among the short-term solution, policies include the act of mobilizing the prisoners. The mobilization process involves moving prisoners from a correctional institution which is considerably overpopulated to another similar institution which is in a position to comfortably accommodate them (Stojkivic, 2010). However, it is of a great importance to note that there are a number of variables which the management of the correctional facility has to pay keen attention to before carrying out the relocation of these prisoners. For instance, prisoners’ mobilization process comes with its severe strains on financial and security/escorting personnel control. In the event that the prisoners are being relocated hundreds of miles away from their places of residence, it might prove to be quite challenging for them to maintain the contact with their kin. Moreover, this has the likelihood of negatively affecting their future plans. As per the arguments of some critics, mobilization of prisoners hinders the efforts of the society to mold the prisoners’ deviant behavior, as well as the preparation of these prisoners to being integral members of the society. However, the same strategy presents the inmates with ample living space, and at the same time, makes certain the effective running of the rehabilitation program (ALEC, 2007).
The manager can also initiate cell expansion programs, where numerous outdated buildings within the prisons’ jurisdiction are identified, and thereafter, reconstructed, so as to accommodate the increasing numbers of prisoners. Apart from this, expanding the living quarters of other facilities can as well be concurrently undertaken. Alternatively, the manager can sanction the construction of new blocks within those already in existence. Good examples of this policy of new additional accommodation (which have been successful) include Pengkalan ChepaPrison, Penor Prison and Kemunting Camp. The construction of new blocks, equipped fully with the necessary facilities, offers great help in overcoming the problem of overcrowding. Another short-term policy measure is the cooperation between the prison management and other agencies. In the event that almost a quarter of the prison’s population is made up of foreign prisoners at any one given time, huge amounts of financial resources have to be spent not only on the issue of space, but on the areas, such as language obstacles. As thus, there is need to convene meetings with the members and immigration of delegation offices for purposes of expediting both deportation and repatriation (Omar, n.d.).
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On the other hand, there are a number of long-term strategies that are at disposal for the managers of the prisons. The leading of these enduring policies measures is the construction of new prisons in phases, using the little funds available. The construction of more prison facilities is essentially the most efficient remedy to the problem of the prison overcrowding. Illustratively, the 1895 Pudu Prison (presently located in the K.L.’ golden triangle) initially catered for six hundred prisoners (Taylor, 2011). However, this facility has been relocated to Sungai Buluh and comfortably serves two thousand five hundred prisoners – providing a study case in Malaysia. New prison facilities actually replaced most of the pre-war and colonial prisons and have modern and high-tech facilities, which satisfactorily meet the projected prisoners’ population demand in the present century. Undeniably, however, the high costs associated with the building of new facilities have compelled the parties concerned to look for other alternatives. This has seen the entry of the private sector to give a helping hand; which has brought about the consideration of the new designs and ideas which factor in cost efficiency (JHSA, 1996).
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Alternatively, prison managers, through Imprisonment Courts, can impose custodial sentences in the event that they are in pursuit of one or even more of the perceived sentencing objectives, such as deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation or protection of the public. Among the factors that lead to the imposition of the prison sentences by the courts include; the insufficiency of suitable choices; the likes of whipping, fining, discharging, binding certain offenders over, police supervision, provisions for compensation and probation (all of which are non-custodial sentences). It has been observed that the reasons for imprisoning offenders are not been as effective as meant to be. According to various studies, it has been evidenced that first-time offenders who get to be imprisoned for their offenses are likely to later become criminals, as compared to offenders who are awarded alternative sanctions. As thus, a nation’s judiciary ought to come up with new sentencing avenues, such as the introduction of community service orders and a parole system (Stojkivic, 2010). The long-term measures are the most appropriate given that they root out the problem unlike the short term solutions which are not as effective.
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There is an importance to maximally utilize the limited prison space and better supervision to be accorded to criminals, so as to lower the crime rates. However, such problems which may deter this ought to be looked into. Prison overcrowding has for a lengthy period of time been a State’s, as well as an international, policy agenda, and as thus, does not come to the attention of the stakeholders as a surprise. As discussed in this paper, consideration of both the short- and long-term policy strategies can help make measurable strides in solving the prison overcrowding problem.