Overcrowded jails have been a major problem for the United States for decades. In fact, the prison population itself has risen more than 700 percent in the last 50 years.
That’s a crippling problem that can lead to some catastrophic outcomes. In the following article, we’ll be exploring what these problems are, in particular, as well as how technology might offer the key to solving the overall problem. Let’s begin!
4 Common Problems of Overcrowding
Overcrowding can lead to a number of issues that have both individual and societal effects. Professionals in the criminal justice system itself acknowledge that there is no incarcerating criminals to a lower crime rate. That’s largely due to the environment and outcomes that overcrowding creates, such as:
The Wrong People Get Released
As jails become overcrowded, there is a sense of urgency to release prisoners in a manner that fosters and maintains humane conditions. Of course, many politicians and law enforcement officials want that, but it’s often not what occurs.
Instead, a disorganized system can, and does, result in some individuals getting released who have no business being out there. Individuals who are in for aggravated assault, sexual assault, child abuse, and other violent felonies, have the ability to re-offend. This puts the innocent at risk!
Jail Can Harden Some Inmates
Some inmates go to jail having never created violent or other felonious offenses. Even so, they are dealing with life circumstances and perhaps behavioral issues that place them in a questionable state.
Placing these individuals in an environment that is designed more for punishment than rehabilitation is not the most effective way for ensuring they never cross that threshold. The environment can push them further into situations or next to people who bring them down the proverbial rabbit hole, thus creating more serious repeat offenders.
Access to Mental Health Services Are Often Unavailable
Jails are there to hold individuals for a set length of time. They are not built with support services in mind. One of the biggest services that could reduce recidivism is access to mental health professionals.
Placing the nonviolent offenders in an environment where they’re not getting the help they need, only ensures they will be back again and again. This creates a vicious cycle that grows the demand for more holding cells instead of reducing the overall population.
Inmates Are Subject to Abuse and Neglect
No jail is built with the intention of abusing or neglecting prisoners, but those things do happen and it’s easy to see why. Jail staff is not particularly well-paid, and they are often overworked taking care of more inmates than they can reasonably deal with.
Neglect can happen naturally as well as intentionally. Regardless of the catalyst, though, it’s often a precursor to targeted abuse, either inmate-on-inmate or from the staff itself.
What Is GPS Monitoring?
Dealing with crowded jails is a problem in virtually every state in the union. To get there, some law enforcement professionals and politicians have turned to the use of technology.
One of the most widely used forms of technology is GPS monitoring. Just what is GPS monitoring? GPS stands for global positioning systems.
Employing GPS in the field of criminal justice is common. However, it’s only as good as the hardware and software systems supporting it.
How Is It Primarily Used in the Criminal Justice System?
GPS systems are commonly used by law enforcement for tracking prisoner movements. This can be done via ankle bracelets or court-ordered automobile systems (like with those serving a sentence for drunk driving, for instance).
Using GPS monitoring in criminal justice is not as simple as buying a device over the counter and installing a piece of software. It demands extra security in both areas so devices cannot be easily tampered with and privacy considerations can be taken into account.
Why Use It For Corrections?
There are many positive benefits to using it for the process of corrections. These benefits pertain to the criminal justice system, society at large, and, yes, even the offenders themselves. Let’s examine!
It Reduces Further Arrests
One of the benefits offered to inmates is being recommended for a GPS monitoring system instead of becoming one of the physical jail population allows the offender to continue living their lives. They don’t have to miss work or lose their job or pay extra for childcare.
Improving the quality of the offender’s life, even as he or she works to meet the terms of their sentencing, can keep them from reoffending. They don’t feel as compelled to steal or commit other additional crimes to “make up for” what they lost while serving their sentences.
Helps Lower Spending
Another of the potential reasons to use it is that it helps society. Jails ultimately are paid for through taxes. When an inmate goes into the physical jail population, they have to be fed, clothed, and sheltered, while they are away from home.
This demands more public support than it otherwise would. Using ankle monitors or automobile GPS monitoring shifts the expense back on the offender while affording that offender the means of paying for it by not missing work and keeping their job. As a result, the taxpayer’s dollar goes much further in ensuring the right people stay behind bars.
Allows Offenders to Better Reassimilate
Not only does the offender get a better chance at avoiding further jail time, but they also find it easier to reassimilate to becoming a productive member of society. It helps any family members who depend on them as well. Last but not least, law enforcement is able to better do their jobs because that’s one less repeat offender they have to keep their eyes out for!
Overcrowded Jails Should Be A Concern For Us All
Overcrowded jails are concerning for everyone. That’s because overcrowding means laws are not being followed, nonviolent offenders are being placed in situations where they’re likely to re-offend or run afoul of violent offenders, and violent offenders could very well be unleashed on the public!
GPS monitoring systems, ankle bracelets, and other useful devices and programs give societies more control over these factors. Are you a bail bond agent, detention/probation officer, or law enforcement official who sees the benefit? Become a partner of Kapa Technologies today to see what our solutions can do for you!