Essay on Prison Crowding

The intent of this paper is to examine the history of the prison population in the United States in regards to men and women. It will discuss the impact of the crowded prisons on the inmates as well as possible solutions to alleviate the crowding in the prisons.

Before the authorities developed the female institution, they housed the women in a separate division of the male prison. In general, the women in these sections encountered horrific conditions. The excessive use of solitary confinement characterized these along with significant acts of sexual and physical abuse that the male inmates and guards meted out to them. The women in these facilities received few, if any, services (Mallicoat, 2012 from Freedman, 1981). Further, Mallicoat (2012) said that they housed the women at Auburn State Prison in New York, in the attic space where they experienced unsupervised situations. Male inmates received the assignment to distribute their meals to these women. In several instances, the men remained for extensive time than they required to complete the duties that pertained to their job. Unsurprisingly, many prison-related pregnancies occurred from these interacted experiences.

Unfortunately, in 1825, Rachel Welch, a pregnant woman died from beatings she received from a male guard. However, this incident led to momentous changes in how they housed the incarcerated women. Consequently, in 1839, in response to the growing concerns of the abuse of the females in male prison facilities, they opened the first women prison facility. Therefore, they located the Mount Pleasant Prison Annex on the Sing Sing grounds and placed a male penitentiary in Ossining, New York. Even though they set a female warden at the Mount Pleasant, the male Sing Sing administrators still had complete control. These males had minimal perception about the nature of criminality in the females. Notwithstanding the officials intent to eliminate the abuse experience that the women encountered inside of the prison setting, the male guards continued to abuse and administer corporal punishment to these the women at Mount Pleasant.

Additionally, Mallicoat, (2012) contended that the unpleasant conditions and the high levels of neglect and abuse, impelled moral reformers in the United States to work toward improved conditions for these incarcerated women. During the 1820s and 1830s, several American reformers came from liberal religious backgrounds within the middle- and upper-class communities. These reformers’ efforts led to noteworthy changes for the incarcerated women, which included the development of separate women institutions.

As a new perspective, the reformatory became an institution, which they developed for the purpose of rehabilitating women from their immoral behaviors. At that point and for an undefined time, they sent the women to the reform center until they became satisfied that these women got improved. The women whom they sent to sent to the reformatories were most likely the White, working-class women (Mallicoat, 2012). Based on the viewpoint that they designed the jail to improve the women’s moral character, the women received sentence for various crimes. These crimes included indecent and vulgar behavior, fornication, veneral disease, adultery and a series of premarital pregnancies.

In comparison to male institutions, the custodial institutions had design and values. They offered very little in regards to the rehabilitative programming for the incarcerated women. These women whom they placed in custody faced several distinctive issues, with many of which the prison was ill-equipped to deal. Interestingly, some facilities had prison nursery programs that gave the mothers, while they remain in incarceration, the opportunity to stay with their young children. They additionally, created gender-responsive programming to address the particular needs of the female offenders (Mallicoat, 2012).

In recent times according to Biron (2013) The United States Congress research wing issue warning that 30 years of historically unparalleled increase in the number of the United States incarcerated prisoners. The incarcerations have led to extensive of overcrowding that presently impacts the federal prison system’s infrastructure. In addition, for over 30 years, based on a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the population within the federal has escalated to approximately 790% increase — 219,000 from 25,000 inmates. Today, these distended figures, have confirmed that the United States incarcerated more people than any of the other countries. Out of 100,000, they have imprisoned some 716 persons.

Throughout the 1980s, prisoners’ litigation in the federal courts experienced dramatic increase. Although the Supreme Court said that the constitution did not mandate comfortable prisons in response to Rhode v Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 101 S.C + 2392, 69 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1981), lower courts intervened to limit the number of inmates whom they could house in some of the prisons. The officials often welcome judicial interventions since the overcrowding in the prisons made it difficult to control the prison populations.

Crowded prison have more prisoners in the jail than what the facility can allow. The unhealthy state of the prisons relates to several issues that the American corrections currently face. The overcrowded prisons upset the inmates and also hinder their improvement in the psychological sphere. Additionally, the overcrowded prisons deprive the inmates of resources. This unavailability of resources and the absence of a peaceful environment can produce destructive outcome for the prisoners (Dhannyya, 2012).

Indeed, overcrowding in the prison has several undesirable effects upon the detainees. Research demonstrated that overcrowding in prison produces aggression, competition for the limited available resources, increased incidents of illness, increased likelihood of relapse into criminal behavior and higher rates of suicide.  Research has also specified that overcrowding has three kinds of effects on the daily prison surroundings.

The first effect centers around the lesser amount of everything that they have to stretch the same resources and space even further. They curtail the opportunities through which inmates can participate in rehabilitative and self-improvement programs like the academic, vocational training and employment programs. The lack of work or opprtunities to work, often result in inmate idleness and often reinforces the adage that idleness breeds discontent and disruptive behavior (Howard, 1996).

The individual inmate’s behavior forms the second effect of overcrowding. Crowding creates stress and this stress in conjunction with other factors within the prison setting, can increase the adverse impacts of crowding. The inability to maintain personal identity, fear, idleness, or to turn off unwanted stimulation and interaction like noise, add to the stress that crowding presents.

The third effect includes a combination of the inability of the correctional system to meet the increased demand for more space along with the resulting harm that the individual inmates encounter. Without a doubt, in an attempt to cope with the limited available space and the overcrowding, which take place, there is a strong tendency to misclassify offenders develop. To some extent, overcrowding result in offenders being classified on the basis of the available space than the level of security and the most suitable programs for the offenders (Howard, 1996).

In addition to the three notable effects, among the inmates, the overcrowded prison initiates aggression and competition for the limited resources. It also influences illness and sufferings among the prisoners. Prison overcrowding increases the suicide rates and boosts recidivism among the prisoners (Dhannyya, 2012). Then there is prison rape, which served as one of the most serious problem for an inmate. During this experience, the smaller and puny prisoners, especially if they are unaligned to a particular gang, become most vulnerable (Scheb & Sheb 11).

Sheb & Sheb 11 assert that the problem gained national attention. As a result, in July 2003, Congress enacted the Prison Rape reduction Act, which produced a commission that would examine all the problem related issues. It also required the local officials and federal state receive assistance from the Department of Justice.

Cunniff, (2002) posits that always collecting, monitoring, and analyzing admission and length-of-stay information from the solution to alleviating crowding, as well as, manage the jail population. In addition, it will also help when they share the results with other justice officials as well as, with the officials who have leadership roles in the general government. Their cooperation will become essential as they collaboratively control the practices and policies that establish the jail admissions and the length of stay. As noted earlier, the handling and mechanisms of this issue, lie out of the control of the sheriff and, or jail administrator.

For this reason, the sheriff and the jail administrator have a stake in forming a justice system-wide criminal justice coordinating committee (CJCC), or in strengthening an existing CJCC that is not operating well. The forum serves as a place where the sheriff can demonstrate that potential or actual jail crowding is a justice system dysfunction: it is not merely “the sheriff’s problem.”

These officials have a significant stake in ensuring the prison bed resource is best used to maximize public protection. When they present pure and credible, practical evidence, they will do all they can to modify their practices and policies. A jail administrator and/or sheriff can exert substantial influence on the decision-making in which these other agencies become engaged. However, thay can only do so if they possess the facts and if they can proficiently answer questions about the changes the jail population makes. They can additionaly accomplish this influence if they can clearly demonstrate how the changes in admission rates or the lengths of stay can improve how they administer justice.

This approach will also serve the community well when time to build a new jail arrives. Officials will be more informed and more supportive. They will be able to help the community understand that prison bed space is being used wisely. The general public will not support efforts to expand prison bed space until it becomes convinced that they squeeze out all the potential excess of the existing operation (Cunniff, 2002).

Accordingly, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (2000) states that the availability of alternatives, treatment options, and other resources are a powerful tool to decrease the jail populations. In fact, the Multnomah County, Oregon, public defender keeps and continually updates a database of services for both pre-trial defendants and adjudicated defendants awaiting sentencing.

In Monroe County, New York, they permanently assign defenders to two staff members from the county’s Alternative to Incarceration program. They make available defense advocacy services for the defendants who are on bond in jail and those about to receive sentence. The staff also identify alternative programs for the clients plus, monitor the progress that the clients’ make.

The Commonwealth of Virginia Public Defender’s Commission, in most of its offices throughout the states, utilizes sentencing advocates. The lawyers develop diversion plans or locate alternative sentencing programs for the defendants so that they can provide assistance. The sentencing advocates also work with defendants and their families in order to address and recommend optional treatments or alternative sentencing to the court (National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 2000).

They have added alternative advocacy to the solution. Importantly, in several communities, the interest of the private defense bar in improving bail practices attract the establishment of pretrial services agencies. Subsequently, bar associations have sponsored the development of pre-trial offices in California, Monroe County, new York and San Mateo County. Further, the involvement of the ongoing bar has served as the chief catalyst in dealing with jail crowding as it occurs in both jurisdictions. Public defender offices also support individual optional prison term ventures. Community Partners in Action Center on Alternatives, work along with public defender offices in Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut, to develop structured, individualized sentencing recommendations for the clients liable to receive jail terms. They structure the program on the client’s specific planning model that the National Center for Institutions and Alternatives pioneered.

Finally, they focus on defender’s case-processing systems that may influence the jail populations’. They employ vertical processing, which involves assigning a case to the same team throughout the court process or attorney. They may reduce court delay and save jail space. The horizontal processing, on the other hand, comprises reassignment of instances when they pass a certain stage. This form of processing frequently results in considerable delay in the case while a new attorney becomes familiar with the defendant and the case((National Criminal Justice Reference Service 2000).

Without a doubt, this paper has confirmed the experiences of prison overcrowding. This issue has developed for a long time in the jail system. Many ill-effects have resulted, which have created immeasurable discomforts and substandard experiences for the inmates. However, with time the authorities have implemented solutions to this overcrowding situation. They have sponsored the development of pre-trial offices and had also focused on defender’s case-processing systems that may influence the jail populations. Finally, they intend to reduce court delay so as to limit the crowding in jail.

Work cited

Biron, C. (2013). U.S. Prison Population Seeing “Unprecedented Increase” Retrieved December 19, 2014, from

Cunniff, M. (2002). Jail Crowding: Understanding Jail Population Dynamics. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from

Dhannyya. (2012). Prison overcrowding effects on Inmates,Overcrowded prisons in US and Canada,Negative impact or effects of overcrowding. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from

Howard, J. (1996). PRISON OVERCROWDING. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from

Mallicoat, S. (2012). Women and crime: A text/reader (Vol. ISBN-13: 978-1412987509 ISBN- 10: 1412987504, pp. 461- 463). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service. (2000, January 1). A Second Look at Alleviating Jail Crowding: A Systems Perspective. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from

Scheb, J., & Scheb, II, J. (2009). Criminal Procedure. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from issues prison officials encounter due to the overcrowding problem of prison&source=bl&ots=a0LYS3GyvZ&sig=kuvAtD1MtzX-RjXr_5te7h5IsKs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=t6KUVJ2TGsqYgwTY9IOoDw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=the issues prison officials encounter due to the overcrowding problem of prison&f=false