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The Prison Alternative America has to wake up and realize that the current structure of our penal system is failing terribly Take a group of people strip them of possessions and privacy expose them to constant threats of violence overcrowd their cell-block deprive them of meaningful work and the result is an embittered underclass more intent on getting even with society than contributing to it There is a better way to deal with crime and punishment in America Americans pay too much money for prisons to fail so badly Like many big government solutions prisons are expensive In the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1997 the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates the total cost for our judicial system for 1993 That year the United States had 1364881 adult jail and prison inmates Based on this information the cost per inmate for corrections judicial legal and police costs totaled 71467 per inmate That is about the same as the cost of sending a student to a four-year college Due to overcrowding more than ten billion dollars in construction is needed to create sufficient space for just the current prison population Building more prisons to address crime is like building more graveyards to address a fatal disease Robert Gangi Executive Director Correctional Association of New York Ervin 2 Prisons take the nonviolent offender and make him live in the same conditions that a hardened killer would have The very nature of prison no matter how humane society attempts to make it produces an environment that is inevitably harmful to its residents Even by delaying release by longer sentences residents will eventually return to damage the community Society is paying the bill for this injustice to go on Not including Federal Funds states spent 289 billion on corrections in 1997 alone To compare the states only spent 140 billion on welfare to the poor National Association of State Budget Officers 1997 Why should
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