In the U.S., the number of imprisoned people takes the leading position in the world. It is connected to many reasons. Some of people are imprisoned for minor offences, such as failure to pay a fine or illegal entry in the country. Some get incarcerated for several times after being imprisoned once. The problem of the big number of incarcerated people is complex and has multiple reasons, both social and legislative.
First of all, in many cases incarceration is not so necessary, as long as the offences for which people are being put in jail are not so serious. For example, they can be incarcerated for technical violations, for example, people are put in jail for violations of probation and parole. As Sawyer and Wagner (2020) put it, most of the incarcerated are not accused in serious crimes, but are charged with non-criminal violations and misdemeanors. Countries and cities do not invest in safer community-driven initiatives, but support incarceration instead. Besides, many people are charged with minor offences which are over-criminalized by the state. For example, some people do not pay fines, or they fail to appear in court. Around 11,000 people are imprisoned for immigration offenses, such as illegal entry or re-entry in the country (Sawyer & Wagner, 2020). They get a criminal record, which harms their further career and financial situation. Many people who were incarcerated get back in jail and get imprisoned. If they were not put in jail for misdemeanor charges and if there were some more supportive methods to change their lifestyle, then it could be possible to reduce the number of incarcerated people.
Thus, the problem of mass incarceration in the U.S. is complex and is related to overcriminalization of some offences. Besides, is caused by lack of efficiency of the punishment system which does not prevent people from second offence. Reforms in policy, for example, changes in money bail, could reduce the cases of incarceration. However, the effect of the reforms should be carefully weighed and discussed.
Sawyer W., Wagner P. (2020). Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020. Prison Policy Initiative. Web.