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Overcrowding: A Crisis in California

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Overcrowding: a crisis in California

“Without health life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffer – an image of death”, the eminent sage Buddha once said. Whether or not we want to accept it, he was right. This is a quote that reflects the system of imprisonment that currently resides in our society. Prison overcrowding is a conflict in our world today that has been going on for a few decades and no significant solutions have been successful in showing any remarkable effect on the numbers. Take a look at Figure A. We can see that more than half of the countries listed are operating at over capacity while the remaining portion is operating at under capacity. Even these select countries running at under capacities are still relatively high. Personally, it seems ironic that many of these countries are quite fully developed and still running at over capacities (e.g. Britain and France). This reflects our society today: the criminal justice system finds ways to put people not suited or illegitimately reasoned to be sentenced to prison and behind bars.

History of overcrowding dates back to the Civil War, when former African American slaves, many of whom were deemed as criminals in the South, were kept in prisons. During the time, the motive was to hold and gain the possession of a convict in order to give the state the opportunity to make money (yet, who’s to say that the current prison system isn’t operating under the same motive – but I digress). Majority of the crimes that gave these former slaves the status of “convict” were often minor charges such as public drunkenness or alleged theft, but still was considered enough to put them behind bars. The Northern states looked at these concerns with distaste, howev...

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