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The Problem of Overcrowding in American State Prisons

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Some prisons in the nation have been reported with poor conditions. Among the causal agents of the worsening state of the jails is overcrowding. Some state prisons have absorbed a high number of prisoners, hence exceeding the carrying capacity of the prisons. The prison department has reported congestion as a significant threat to the prison systems. Although there are measures put in place to expand the prison facilities and accommodate the rising number of prisoners, overcrowding in prisons has remained to be a significant issue. This has posed a challenge to the prison department to adequately provide the basic needs of the prisoners such as food, healthcare and accommodation. The rising number of prisoners has stressed the limited resources within the prisons, compromising the effectiveness of the prison department to meet the prisoner’s needs. Severe cases have witnessed an increase in deaths within prisons as caused by limited health care and food supplies. The following will give an overview of overcrowding in prisons, historical background of the issue, current ethical issues employed by the concerned parties on the matter and recommendations how to effectively mitigate issue of overcrowding in prisons.

Overcrowding within the prisons has undermined the prisons department capability to administer rehabilitation programs. Vocational training and recreation have been hampered by the high number of prisoners that has exceeded the available resources. Most of the prisons lack privacy due to overcrowding. Prisoners spend their nights crowded in the single room. This has caused mental problems among the prisoners, increasing cases of self-harm, violence and suicide. Research by Kaeble & Glaze, (2016) shows that over 22 national prison systems within America host double of their carrying capacity, with an average of 150% to 200% of the number of accommodated prisoners. The highest rate of overcrowding witnessed in America is El Salvador, which ranges up to 310% of the prison’s carrying capacity (Glaze& Kaeble, 2015).

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The Problem of Overcrowding in American State Prisons. (2018, November 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from
“The Problem of Overcrowding in American State Prisons.” GradesFixer, 15 Nov. 2018,
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