Prison life is a sensitive topic for discussion since there are as many opinions on it as there are people. When preparing for this post, three YouTube videos on life in prison were watched to get a better understanding of what individuals go through when sentenced to spend time in a correctional facility. Issues for discussion will include differences between male and female prisons, medical care, programs for early release, the cost for keeping inmates in jail, compassionate release, and the three-strikes law.
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There is a stark difference between male and female prisons not only in the rates of imprisonment but also in the way inmates are treated. In the video about the California Institution for women, the reporter mentioned that inmates had an opportunity to visit therapy self-help groups, participate in substance abuse programs, take college courses, and so much more. Programs for male inmates, on the other hand, are much more labor-oriented.
When speaking of medical care in correctional facilities, it is important to mention that even inmates can volunteer to take care of the ill in prisons. Because of the decades of increasingly long sentences, there are more than twenty-six thousand prisoners older than sixty-five, which means that the costs to address their healthcare needs only grow.
Seriously ill prisoners have an opportunity to get a compassionate release from prison. Between 1991 and 2010, doctors recommended releasing 1,157 of such prisoners; however, only 30% of them were indeed released. This issue is particularly important because officials pay little to no attention to visiting ill prisoners and make decisions based on case files. Unfortunately, such choices only harm the budget since paroling terminally sick prisoners can potentially cut costs by approximately two hundred billion dollars a year.
The three-strikes law is among the fundamental causes of why the population in prisons increases and contributes to the rise in the number of permanently ill inmates. The law mandates individuals who are guilty of a severe violent crime, along with two other offenses regardless of their severity, to be sentenced to life in prison. In general, there are forty thousand inmates in U.S. prisons that have received a sentence according to the three-strikes law.
Because of this law, the elderly population of prisons has grown by fifty percent in the past decade. Unfortunately, the number of such inmates is likely to double by 2020. Apart from imposing longer than necessary sentences on American citizens, the law also increases costs for the government (approximately $19.2 billion). Also, an elderly inmate is likely to cost between two to three times more than a younger one.
The YouTube videos shed light on pressing problems that exist within the context of prison life. The most heartbreaking scenes included terminally ill inmates who were forced to stay in prison despite them being unable to commit any crime when released. The state laws are targeted at increasing the population in prisons and punishing as many people as possible. Instead of exercising justice and judging each case individually, states use “blanket” laws that disregard the health conditions of the majority of inmates.
Programs for early release should be developed further to avoid the injustices that prevail in the prison system of the country and cut costs that could be targeted at the improvements of the system rather than the upkeep of prisoners that have no physical ability to commit a serious crime.