The Pros And Cons Of Prison Incarceration

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The United States incarcerates a greater percentage of the population than any country in the world (CBS, 2012). According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 2.3 million adults were incarcerated in federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013. There are an additional 820,000 people on parole and 3.8 million people on probation (Wagner & Rabuy, 2016)
Jail and prison differ primarily in regards to the length of stay for inmates. Jails are designed to hold inmates awaiting trial or serving a short sentence, such as a misdemeanor conviction. Prisons are operated by state governments and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and are designed to hold individuals convicted of more serious crimes, such as felonies (What …show more content…

In a federal class action lawsuit filed in 2012, the Arizona Republic found that at least 37 inmates had died preventable deaths during a two year time span, with many more receiving harmful and inadequate care (Flatow, 2014). One pregnant inmate suffered a miscarriage alone in solitary confinement, while another left in his wheelchair with an unchanged diaper developed sores and ulcers. In another particularly tragic case cited in Parsons v. Ryan, a prisoner at the state prison complex in Tucson died of untreated lung cancer that spread to multiple major organs before prison officials bothered to send him to a hospital. His liver was infested with tumors and swelled to four times its normal size, pressing on other internal organs and impeding his ability to eat. He died in February of 2011, days after finally being sent to a hospital but only after his abdomen was distended to the size of that of a full-term pregnant woman. In October of 2014, the parties settled the case in perhaps one of the largest prisoner settlements in years (Flatow, …show more content…

The Supreme Court found the denial of medical care to prisoners incompatible with evolving standards of decency and running afoul of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The Court imposed the obligation of providing adequate medical care on prisons because “[a]n inmate must rely on prison authorities to treat his medical needs; if the authorities fail to do so, those needs will not be met.” To deny such care could result in pain and suffering. The Court concluded that the Eighth Amendment is violated when corrections officials display “deliberate indifference” to an inmate’s medical needs. Deliberate indifference is the conscious or reckless disregard of the consequences of one’s acts or

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