There Is No Substitute For Focused Experience

Why is the U.S. incarceration system problematic?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Criminal Defense

People who are facing criminal charges in the United States know that incarceration is one of the possible sentences they will face in the event of a conviction. Placing someone in prison doesn’t allow them to benefit from rehabilitation opportunities, and some prisons don’t provide any rehabilitative services. Instead, individuals are placed behind bars and put to work without any opportunity to better themselves.

Conversely, some other options like drug court, enable defendants to remain under the watchful eye of the criminal justice system while receiving the help they need to become a productive member of society.

U.S is number 1 in the world for the number of prison inmates

While the U.S. ranks fifth in the world with an incarceration rate of 531, it has the highest number of incarcerated individuals. There are approximately 1,767,200 individuals who are incarcerated in this country. That accounts for around 25% of the entire world’s prison population.

The prison population in the U.S. grew considerable from the 1970s. In 1972, there were only around 200,000 people in prison. Shortly after, in 1984, the first private prison opened. And, more and more prisons have switched the private model. This makes incarcerating individuals a profitable sentence.

Alternative to prisons have a reduced recidivism rate

There are many alternatives to prison. These include probation, treatment courts and therapeutic courts. All of these options are typically cheaper for taxpayers. This makes some wonder why they aren’t used more often. The answer likely ties back to the privatized prison system, which can benefit from higher rates of recidivism.

The National Institute of Justice’s Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation found that treatment courts were associated with a recidivism rate of around 40%. That’s considerably lower than the 53% in the comparison group that didn’t participate in a treatment court.

With the success rate of therapeutic courts, they should likely be the go-to sentence in many cases. Some defendants may have to apply to join these programs when they begin the criminal justice process. Seeking the assistance of a legal representative may open the door for them to go through a therapeutic court instead of being incarcerated.