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Issues Caused by Prison Overcrowding

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 3026 words Published: 18th Jul 2018

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One of the important goals in prison system is that it should guarantee the public safety, prison inmates and staff. (Criminal justice and behavior)

  • holding more prisoners than it is intended to accommodate, then the level of overcrowding in different continents andregions can be shown in terms of the occupancy rate*/the number of prisoners as apercentage of the official capacity of the system (prison health care and the extent of prison overcrowding)
  • In North and Central America, this is true of nine of the 12 countries on which information is available, as it is of 13 out of 14 Caribbean countries and 12 of the 13 countries in South America.(prison health care and the extent of prison overcrowding)
  • Overall, the prison systems of 109 of the 158 countries on which information is available*/69%*/hold more prisoners than they are intended to accommodate.
  • Over the 6 years since the first edition of the World Prison Population List appeared, the latest information available shows that prison populations have risen in 71% of these countries*/in 62% of countries in Africa, 74% in the Americas, 87% in Asia, 67% inEurope and 69% in Oceania


Can be measure in the floor space per prisoner, prisoner per living unit and institutional population relative to state capacity

  • According to BOP, the population increasing in prison are contribute to the longer sentencing over times for inmates
  • From the GAO, it claimsthatthe population of BOP will increase more than the system Capacity such as they predict thatit will be increasing the additional 15 percent of inmates’ population in the BOP.
  • The number of females inmates housed in bop institution increased 7 percent and the number of the males inmates housed in bop institution increased 10 percent.
  • 48 percent for sentencing drug

The problem of overcrowding:

Overcrowding can be toxic for the both of the prisoners and staff

  • Lack of privacy, lost to use of gyms and recreation, noise, unsanitary ,there are long lines for the toilet ,poor condition in the prison situation

The United Nations ‘‘Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners’’ state that: ‘‘Allaccommodation for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shallmeet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions andparticularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation’’(prison health care and the extent of prison overcrowding)

  • It is equally well recognized that, by contributing to health problems in prison, overcrowding is also contributing to health problems in the community, since the vastmajority of prisoners will return to the community in due course, accompanied by anydisease that is then afflicting them


Mental health

  • When overcrowding exceeds this figure, the risk to the health of prisoners is obviously greater still. In 67 of the 158 countries on which information is available, the occupancy rate exceeds 120%, including more than 70% of the prison systems in Africa, the Caribbean and South America, and at least 60% of those in Asia and Central America. Indeed, in almost a quarter of the prison systems (22%)
  • The occupancy rate exceeds 150%, and in 15 countries (almost 10%) it exceeds 200%,meaning that more than two prisoners are occupying space intended for one.
  • From the representation of World Health Organization: ‘‘Overcrowding is an obvious cause or contributory factor to many of the health problems inprison, most notably communicable diseases and mental health, including the use ofpsychoactive substances’’( prison health care and the extent of prison overcrowding)
  • Suicide (for the long-term)( which level of security)
  • Self-harm
  • Infraction and stressful. (Prison Crowing A psychological perspective)
  • Human rights and the prison system should have reasonability to keep inmates mental and physical health( Overcrowding in Prisons A Health Risk in Need of (Re)consideration)
  • Poor prison life associate with the mental health such as self-harm, suicide and violent behavior and all of have major implication can affect the inmates and staff. (Criminal justice and behavior)
  • In the long term, this is cause of the high reoffending rates as the mental health, misconduct behavior are associated with the increasing the risk of recidivism (Criminal justice and behavior) (Criminal justice and behavior)
  • Also, the research finds that the linked the overcrowding in prison with increasing the psychological problem such as suicide, rates of violence hypertension and other medical conditioning. The rehabilitation program have been dismantled as the program have never work because the program are underfund and the high unemployment rates make the inmate post-release adjustment are more difficulty (trauma) CAN ARGUE
  • Gaes (1992) found that the stress of crowding and the straggle for resource, space and create the nervous atmosphere can increase the chance of suicide and other formed violence.
  • People always argue that rehabilitation and the mental care programmer can addressthe problem of suicide. However, there are limited setting and space to provide the rehabilitation program for inmates in the overcrowding prison. (HUYEN)
  • Stress->the data provide strong for the conclusion that dormitory crowding is the stressor and is detrimental to health. The relationship of housing of the relationship of autonomic nervous system responses to crowding and by examination of urine chemistry correlates of adrenal catecholamine.P45
  • There is another importance source of information about health-related problem that can illuminate the extent to which crowded prison conditions are associated with physical and mental pathology-the data on serious health-related incidents such as natural deaths and suicide from the prison archives. P46
  • The data show that there are the illness of headaches, sleeplessness and blood pressure in the short-term.P46
  • Crowding could produce stress and that prolonged stress could lead to serious physical and psychological consequence. P46
  • Evaluating the relationship pf crowding – assessing impact of changes in population over times, assessing difference between large and small institutions within particular prison system. Even when the institutions are equally crowded , thebook find that regarding crowding assume that because of greater socialidentity , the large institutions would yield relatively greater stress and consequently a greater incidence of health-related problems as the increase population within a prison would be reinteraction within the living quarters and or in common use areas.P46
  • Although the stress can have a direct effect on physical health, it may also have dramatic effects on mental health. ]
  • The disciplinary infraction-> the stress related population pressure in the high density institutions may result in a variety of pathological consequence. If population level is important, the large institutions would be associated with more population-related stress than the small one. In the large institution, housing may not be more crowded, but external activity areas may be more densely populated
  • In the criminal justice behavior, it found that there are strong relationship between the institution infraction and the misconduct behavior such as aggression, impulsiveness and the risk of institution. Also. The large of population in the high security housing, it will be high rates of infraction with the gang activities.

Physical health

  • Blood pressure
  • Finding the single cell in us now
  • D, Atri (1975) found that the dormitorities were associated with the elevated blood pressure compare with the single cell housing(P45)
  • In the high population years compared with the low population years, the death rates, it should include those from thediseases of the circulatory system were significantly higher for those over 45years of the age.
  • (ARG) The book analyses indicated that deaths from the natural cause for inmates older than 50years of age increased much more rapidly than the population changes. THE population increased slightly be over 90percent, while the death rates increased by over 200percent P49

Misconduct behavior—public safety

From the GAO report, it can find that overcrowding may cause to increase the misconduct behavior with prisoner and it should be more competition of education and training. (The problem of overcrowding)

Recidivists, but no reconviction rates

The overcrowding will continue increase as the reform policy such as street safety

Post release (Overcrowding in Prisons A Health Risk in Need of (Re) consideration)


  • The budget of the mental service

Meaningful programmes

Increasing the population of prison may cause the overcrowding and affect the relationship between the staff and inmates, prison safety, the condition of confinement and themeaningful programmer for prison. (Criminal justice and behavior)

On the other hand, overcrowding can reduce the meaningful work chance to inmates. There are providing some programmer to relate in job operating and maintaining for inmate to participate in such as federal prison industries. Within the overcrowding, it is difficult to arrange for inmates to working in the federal prison industries factory. At the end, the inmates release the jail and they are difficult to find the job and committing crime (like a cycle) (R42937)

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The GAO reported that there are some problem of overcrowding to be highlight and how this problem to might contribute to inmate misconduct and caused in this facilities. In the report, it showed that the growing of population in prison, the inmates should convert common areas (share to common area) such as television room, temporary house space and they inmates with higher propensity for violence spending more times with other inmates and due to the overcrowding in prison, the inmates may experience crowded bathroom facilities, reduce the shower times and waste of time for services, shorten in meal times and limited recreational activities. On the other hand, the increasing number of inmates in bop facilities will decrease the availability of the programmer as there are longer waiting lists for rehabilitative programmer such as education, vocation training, and substance drug treatment. In fact, the reduction in rehabilitative programmer can manage the prison population. In the BOP, if the inmates complete successfully substance drug treatment, they have up to one year taken off their sentence. However, the longer waiting lists for the substance drug treatment programmer, the limited ability of BOP to allow the inmates earning the maximum reduction in inmate’s sentencing. (R42937)

Human rights (linked with the mental Health and crowding conditioning)

The public and commercial services union  increase the deaths in custody and to basic standard of human dignity ( UNION PROTEST AGAIN PRSION OVERCROWDING)

Prison safety

The increasing of population in the prison may lead to overcrowding and cause of the prison safety and the relationship between the staff and inmates. One of importance of goal in the prison system is that it should protect the safety of public, inmates and staff in the prison. However the poor environment conditions and adjustment in the prison will link with the mental health such as suicide and self harm for the inmates and the misconduct behavior. all of the behavior will affect the safety of inmates and staff. (Criminal justice behavior)

the early identification of inmates in the overcrowding conditions is the risk for the violence behavior and the health (Criminal justice behavior)


For the staff, it can increase the staff pressure and affect their ability to full access theprisoner’s need and provide the quality care and treatment.( UNION PROTEST AGAIN PRSION OVERCROWDING)


Although the private prisons operate (it can reduce the cost of overcrowding in public prison), there is the questionable of privatization deliver lower costs and whether services provided by private prison comparable to services provided by public prison. Whateverthe public prison or private prison operate, the age of prisoner, the economic scale and the prisoner’s security level are the most important factor of daily per diem cost to determine (R42937)


  • Model
  • Early identification of prison -> security level (Criminal justice and behavior)

(Lack of the now)

In the mid -1980s, the inmate population under the Bureau of Prison has increase from25000 to over 219000 inmates in the 2013. The growth of inmate’s population in the prison system is contributed to policy change in the previous decades such as the mandatory minimum sentences. In the mandatory minimum sentencing, there are many people convicted of states crimes to sentence in the prison for the long-term imprisonment. At that time, theprison populations climbed almost continuously and hold more inmates to the federal prison system in the United States. From the World Prison Population, it showed that there are 74 percent in American has risen over the six years. (Prison health).However, the prison system capacity cannot afford the large inmate’s population and lead to overcrowding. Overcrowding refers the number of inmates actually holding in the federal prison system is higher than the prison system’s capacity and accommodation prison; overcrowding is not only just measure in the primary living environment (external density) such as the floor space prisoner, prisoner, per living unit and institutional population relative to state capacity, but also it can also measure the subjective experience of density-related discomfort of inmates in the prison.When people talk about the pressure problem in the prison system, it should be focus on how the problem can affect the prison system first. In the prison system, the importance goals are that it should guarantee the public safety, prison inmates and staff; rehabilitation for prisoner to come back the society after they released; punishment for the criminal to reduce the future crimes. In fact, there are many importance problems in the prison system, but overcrowding has bought the serious problem to prison system such as health-related problems for staff and inmates, reconviction rates, costing in the prison system.etc; therefore, the most pressing problem in prison system is the overcrowding.


According to BOP officials, without space for disciplinary segregation, they are limited in how they can address inmate misconduct. Officials further stated that when a facility has no Special Housing Unit space available, the regional office may move the inmate to a Special Housing Unit in another facility of a different security level—a practice referred to as trans-segregation.

Alternatively, headquarters officials said that disciplinary hearing officers may dispense shorter time in segregation or use other sanctions or a combination of nonsegregation sanctions. As a result, the officials said that the imposed sanctions may not be as much of a deterrent with the inmates, which affects the security and safety of inmates and staff.


BOP officials did not discount an incident happening at a low security facility because of the high gang presence in these facilities.

They said that although the criminal histories of low security inmates suggest that they are not a “high risk” for violence, these inmates may still be a high risk for problems because of frustrations resulting from crowded conditions. Second, BOP officials were also concerned that the federal

  • 25 percent double bunking and 75 percent single bunking of cells within high security facilities,
  • 50 percent double bunking and 50 percent single bunking of cells within medium security facilities, and
  • 100 percent

From fiscal years 2006 through 2011, the percentage crowding in male medium security facilities increased from 37 percent to 51 percent and from 53 percent to 55 percent in high security level facilities BOP’s high security population was about 21,000 in December 2011—or about 7,000 more than its rated capacity—resulting in 97 percent double bunking and a 55 percentage crowding.

According to BOP, BOP’s ability to increase rated capacity is directly affected by funding appropriated for new prison construction and to support contracts with private prison providers for additional inmate bed space. In fiscal year 2005, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) placed a moratorium on all new BOP prison construction. To address BOP’s bed space needs, OMB focused on contracting with private Page 16 GAO-12-743 Federal Prison Crowding prisons.


BOP’s 2020 long-range capacity plan assumes continued growth in the federal prison population from fiscal years 2011 through 2020, with about 15 percent growth in the number of inmates BOP will house.38 To address some of this growth, BOP expects to activate five newly constructed prisons by 2014, adding about 6,720 beds.39 In addition, BOP is budgeting for additional contracted bed space—1,000 beds in 2013 and 1,500 the next year, but the addition of these contracted beds is subject to future appropriations. Despite its plans to add capacity through 2014, given the expected inmate population growth, BOP projects crowding will increase from the current rate of 39 percent to 44 percent by 2015. Figure 3 P53


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