Prisons and prisons are detention institutions for individuals who have been found guilty of violating the rules. For several years, criminals have been punished for the loss of liberty and certain rights. Most countries are currently having problems in maintaining their jails and prisons. The primary distinction in jails and prisons is in administration and the amount of time a prisoner is sentenced to be in there. Local jurisdictions generally administer jails, while the federal government mainly oversees prisons. Currently, prisons have included training and courses to help prepare prisoners. These basic vocational practices are structured to focus on life skills and other professional programs to better their livelihoods once they are released. Prisons on the other hand due to their longevity of stay, inmates are given complete social life skills to facilitate their stay once they are released. Their training programs are fixed not only on social life skills but also on financial skills to better their lives after they are released. These programs also improve their peaceful stay in the correctional facility.
However, these correctional facilities have been facing significant problems. Most of these challenges are on the social well-being of the inmates. Currently, most world prisons have challenges ranging from social issues such as racial and ethnic discrimination, favoritism, substance abuse, rape, assaults, and violence. Other significant challenges include the spread of communicable diseases, mental illnesses, and drug smuggling. In addition to that, management related problems like lack of planning leading to budgets cuts, overpopulation, lack of necessary facilities like water, healthcare and the over extortion of power by guards also deteriorate the conditions of the correctional facilities (Casey, 2015).
There are an estimated 2.5 million inmates in America, which would constitute the fourth largest city in America. In some African countries like Benin, it is determined that some of their prisons have exceeded the required number of inmates by about 363%. These are stunning facts in the public domain on how overpopulated the American prisons are. Overpopulation is the mother of all the problems in the correctional facilities. With overcrowded prisons, the inmates have less access to their essential amenities such as clean water, food, washrooms, healthcare, basic accommodation among others. Overpopulated jails are also not accounted for in the budget estimates. This issue, therefore, overstretches the planned initial budgets meant for the optimum number of inmates. Overcrowding in the prisons is not a challenge America faces alone. It is estimated that over 120 countries in the world have overcrowded jails. Congestion can give rise to mental instability and thereby cause violence in the prisons. It is projected that continued overcrowding and failure to provide essential amenities to the inmates, could later increase the cases of prison violence and to more considerable extent mental disorders.
Healthcare provision is another major challenge in the prisons. The rise of mental problems due to torture and the neglect of primary medical care is one of the reasons for such developments. Provision of primary healthcare is vital for any human being. Inmate’s facing these challenges have developed mental instabilities and thus giving rise to violence. On worst occasions some inmates who have had enough resort to self-harm. The worst case of self-harm that is on the rise is suicide. Suicide rates in the prisons around the world are known to be on the rise year by year. Statistics from England show that in only12 months between March 2013 and March 2014 there was a significant rise in suicides rates in England and Wales. There were incidences of 88 successful suicides as compared to less than 50 in the preceding years (Sarkin, 2008).
American prisons are currently filled up with a high number of black prisoners. Black people are more likely to end up in jail than any other race. This is spread all around in all the American states. In some cases, the rate of black person’s incarceration is more than four times that of white persons. Not only does it end at the instances of imprisonment, deep down in the daily operations in the correctional facilities the filth of racism is dire. Physical and verbal harassments in prison by the wardens and other gangs in detention have also been a significant concern in prison. Black prisoners assigned to prisons located in the overwhelmingly white parts of New York are all subjected racial discrimination and torture by gangs and wardens. These groups and wardens know that the responsible administrators will play the race card when such cases are brought to them. Most of the gangs in the prisons causing violence and territorial disputes are racially formed under the eyes of the prions administrators (Editorial Board, 2016).
Physical and sexual assault all arise from the effects of overcrowding. Mismanagement and lack of disciplinary measures by the prison administrators have resulted in the rise of sexual crimes such as rape. Rumor has it that in some cases, it is indeed the prison wardens who sell the rights of new and juvenile inmates to the existing gangs in prison. It is a shame that the custodians of law and order are either directly or indirectly involved in the breaking of the law for their selfish interests. Some of the benefits these wardens get by selling other humans bodies include favors from the inmates such as purchasing of their smuggled drugs and connections to their free gangs’ members. Other favors could also be money and sexual favors from the female counterparts. As a result of such atrocities, HIV/AIDS-related ailments and deaths have been on the rise in prisons over the recent past. This inhumanity in the jails is a shame, and the use of death and HIV/AIDS as population control should be condemned.
Drug and substance abuse
It is a world known fact that prison is a drug den. Both prisoners and wardens are involved in the abuse and smuggling of drugs. A good number of convicted criminals with offenses nonviolent and not drug-related end up being hardcore drug users. This is a growing trend that is learned from the prisons. It is said that some people come out of jail worse than they went in. Drug and substance abuse in the prisons is a menace that keeps on rising every day. Drugs are quite easy to obtain even in the maximum security prisons. This is because over half of the inmates usually are drug addicts. On the contrary, most prisons do provide rehabilitation programs. However the lack of treatment, care and rehabilitation guidelines after one has enrolled in the plans to continuous use of the drugs and thus failure of the programs.
Lack of enough funds
Most correctional facilities run on overstretched funds from both the states and the federal governments. Prisoners are forced to live with limited resources through their sentence. In such scenarios, the inmates lack food, water and essential amenities such as rest areas. Such prisoners are forced to live with the policy of survival of the fittest. Such inadequate resources may stretch to the extent of lacking enough staff to cater for their needs. Wardens are overstretched beyond their working limits trying to provide for more than they can do. Such wardens are then forced by circumstances to be brutal and inhumanely as a result if tiredness. With limited staff and resources, hygienic issues are set to start, and this may lead to the outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
In conclusion, problems facing correctional institutions are too dire to be ignored. Indeed America’s prison situation needs to be reformed. There is knowledge and public outcry against the way the government handles the convicted. These correctional facilities need to be improved. For as much as they are offenders of the law, inmates are citizens with fundamental rights such as quality life. When the quality of life is jeopardized, then that loses the primary meaning of a correctional facility. To solve the overpopulation menace, petty crime offenders should be given shorter jail terms or at least other forms of correction like community service. The American civil union report of 2013 showed how almost 3300 petty offenders had been slapped with life sentences with petty crimes such as shoplifting and stealing gas. Such inmates would be better corrected from the outside leaving these correctional facilities with an underpopulated number made up of hardcore criminals only.
Casey, J. (2015, January 6). Prison Watch UK. Retrieved from 10 of the biggest problems facing Britain’s prisons today: https://prisonwatchuk.com/2015/01/06/10-of-the-biggest-problems-facing-britains-prisons-today/
Editorial Board. (2016, December 6). The Stain of Racism in New York’s Prisons. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/opinion/the-stain-of-racism-in-new-yorks-prisons.html
Sarkin, J. (2008). Prisons in Africa:an evaluation from a human rights perspective. Sur. Revista Internacional de Direitos Humanos, 5(9), 22-51. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1806-64452008000200003