Problematic California Prison System

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California has one of the most dysfunctional and problematic prison system in US. Over the last 30 years, California prison increased eightfolds (201). California Department of Correctional and Rehabilitation (CDCR) does little to reform prisoners and serve as human warehouse rather than a correction institution. California's prison system fails the people it imprisons and society it tries to protect. In many cases, California's prison system exacerbates the pre-existing problems and aids in the formation of new problems for prisoners. This paper discuses the criminogenic effects of overcrowding, and reduction/elimination of programs and how it negatively affects California and the ballooning prison population and possible remedies. Historical Factors Starting in 1970s, there has been an upward adjustment to sentencing making punishment more punitive and sentencing guidelines more strict. Martinson's (1974) meta-analyzies reviewed over 200 studies and concluded that nothing works in terms of rehabilitating prisoners. Rehabilitating efforts were discontinued. The War on Drugs campaign in 1970s incarcerated thousands of non-violent drug offenders into the system. In 1865, 34.3% of prison population were imprisoned for drug violation. By 1995, the percentage grew to 59.9% (figure 4.1, 104). Legislation policies like the Third Strikes laws of 1994 have further the severity of sentencing. The shift from rehabilitation to human warehouse marks the end of an era of trying to reform individuals and the beginnings of locking inmates without preparation of their release. Along with the reform in the 1970s, prosecutors are given more discretion at the expense of judges. Prosecutors are often pressure to be tough on crime by the socie... ... middle of paper ... ...d another 17% has less severe, but equal maladaptive illness (248). Only a handful receive treatment. Program reduction and elimination Basic education services are often not met. The literacy rate of inmates in California is at a seventh grade level (204). The flaws of the prison system not only affect inmates and their families, but affect every Californian. It is ironic that prison are created to protect society, but it also an institution that hurts society. More of state budget is moved into maintaining the flawed prison system at the expense of education and social services. Ironically, money for education and social services aid in preventing criminal population. These criminogenic effects are an endless cycle. The prison system in California are in dire need of correction. Early contact with the system is one of the risk factor in future offending.

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