The Negative Effects Of Mass Incarceration

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In America, 2.3 million people are in prison. American has the highest prison population in the world. This is due to “tough on crime laws” that have been enforced since the 1960’s. Although these laws do help keep crime off the street, they have done more harm than good for our country. Mass incarceration is a major issues in America, it leads to poverty, broken families, money wasted, and many other problems. Although everyone can recognize mass incarceration is a problem, they are different ways people think it should be dealt with. The size of prisons in the United States can be shown though numbers. From 1970-2012, the total prison population grew from 174,000 to 1.5 million. Along with the large number of inmates, there is a large amount…show more content…
One of the more obvious effects is the amount of money spent on our prisons, the United States prison system cost $80 billion annually. This is taxpayer money that can be used for schools, drug rehabilitation programs, supporting infrastructure and other things. The other effects of mass incarceration lie in the hands of those directly affected; the prisoners and their families. Former prisoners have harder times finding houses, jobs, and making a sustainable salary. This creates a sub-class of citizens that are likely to fall into the manmade cycle of criminal behavior again. (Mary Kate Frank). The environment inside of prisons does not prepare inmates to re enter society, but rather to re enter prison. ⅔ prisoners will be rearrested within three years of being out of prison, ½ of arrested will become incarcerated again. Mass incarceration also continues the cycle of poverty that falls to the child of incarcerated parents. “It tears families apart, sinking them further into poverty and leaving 1 out of every 28 children with a parent who is incarcerated, two thirds of whom are in prison or jail for nonviolent crimes.” (Denis J. Madden). This especially affects the black community considering 1/15 black children have a parent in prison. (Issues &…show more content…
These are laws put in place a set of minimum years someone must serve in prison for a specific crime.These laws started in 1952 when representative, Hale Boggs, pushed the Boggs Act through congress. This act required a judge to give a minimum of a two year sentence for first time drug offences. Then in 1956, congress passed the Narcotics Control Act which increased the minimum sentence for drug offences to five years and any offence after the offender 's first would require 10 years sentences. Albeit these laws still exist, maximum sentences started to replace them in 1970 due to the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. Many states still kept their minimum sentence laws. Opponents of minimum sentence laws argue that they lead to more people in prison, waste taxpayer money, and devastates families. Along with these reasons, the laws also continue to affect minorities negatively and they fail to reduce the drug trade. People that support the minimum sentence laws argue that they help keep criminals off the street longer, cause crime rates to decline, and deters people from committing certain crimes. (Issues &
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