prison population is growing at an alarming rate and
has reached a population density unparalleled in the
history of the United States of America. On August
4, 2003, the number of people imprisoned within the
Federal Bureau of prisons reached an all time high
of, 171, 606 (Federal Cure, 2003). Of this
population, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has confirmed
that 84% are first time, non-violent offenders (Federal
Cure, 2003). Currently, over 2.2 million people
are confined in state and federal prisons (Bureau
of Justice Statistics, 2003). One in thirty-two
United States Citizens are presently incarcerated
or on probation or parole (Bureau of Justice Statistics
2002a). The United States of America incarcerates
the highest percentage of its citizenry, as well as
the highest raw number of individual citizens, among
all industrialized nations (Cato Institute,
the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, the American
prison population increased by 84 percent (Bureau
of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2001, 2002a).
The incarceration rate of State and Federal prisoners
sentenced in 2002 was 701 per 100,000 U.S. residents.
Blacks were sentenced at a rate of 3,473/100,000,
Hispanics at a rate of 1,176/100,000, and Whites at
a rate of 450/100,000 (Sentencing Project,
2003). The disparity in sentencing along racial lines
is clear, but how is this variance explained?
over crowding is a salient issue in light of contemporary
sentencing policy. State prisons incarcerated populations
ranged from 100 percent of rated prison capacity to
115 percent of rated prison capacity. Federal prisons
incarcerated populations represented 131 percent of
the rated capacity of all federal prisons in the United
States (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002a).
It may be that prison over crowding influences how
individuals adjust to the prison environment, and
over crowding may also lead to psychological damage
including Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms.
most tangible cost of the imprisonment binge
(Austin and Irwin, 2000) is the cost to taxpayers.
Conservative estimates place the costs of incarcerating
an individual at $30,000 per year. The U.S Department
of Justice reports in fiscal year 1999 the United
States of America incurred direct expenditures for
corrections in the amount of $49,006,871,000 (Bureau
of Justice Statistics, 2001). In effort to keep
pace with the rapidly growing inmate population, prisons
are being constructed at an unprecedented rate (Department
of Justice, 2003) at a construction cost of approximately
$100,000 per cell (Sentencing Project, 2003).
and Societal Impact: Exportation Model
importation model (Sykes, 1958) asserts that
prisoners who have been exposed to violence at home
or in the streets, and/or, have family histories of
alcohol and substance abuse, are at greater risk of
behavioral misconduct while in prison. The exportation
model (present study) addresses the possible consequences
for those who have endured potentially traumatic and
damaging experiences inherent in the prison environment,
and the resultant potentially negative ramifications
(1962) describes the inculcation into prison culture
as prisonization. He suggests the effects
of prisonization may be carried with the prisoner
upon release. Once the prisoner is released from incarceration,
the community is faced with an array of potentially
negative repercussions ranging from increased social
costs to increased crime.
result of incarceration individuals may develop psychological
problems, including Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms.
Such individuals are returned to society as damaged
goods (Hochstetler, Murphy, and Sminons,
forthcoming). The release of people who may suffer
psychological damage as result of the prison experience
may hold serious consequences for society at large.
the prison experience may increase a form of human
capital McCarthy and Hagan (1995) refer to as criminal
capital. Prison may be viewed as the university
of crime, where criminal skills and techniques are
the curriculum. Resources such as information and
skills learned in prison may enhance criminal expertise,
and ultimately may be exported to the general public
by way of the released prisoner. If this is
the case, the prison experience itself may lead to
more refined and skilled criminals who may pose serious
problems upon their return to free society.
release, an individual will return to the community
and may commit additional offences. Wheeler and Hissong
(1988) found ex-prisoners to be 2.3 times more likely
to be charged with a new offense, compared to pre-prison
probationers. Also, they were 1.8 times more likely
to be convicted of a new offence and 2.2 times more
likely to be incarcerated for a new offence compared
to those sentenced to probation. Results of this study
indicate that males, Blacks, younger offenders, and
those with more prior felony convictions have higher
rates of recidivism.
the majority of those returned to prison recidivate
due to technical violations of conditions of probation
or parole. These violations include drinking, drug
use, failure to report to probation officer, associating
with convicted criminals, possession of fire arms,
leaving jurisdiction without permission, failure to
inform probation officer of new home address, etc.
As result of violating a set of rules, that are not
laws, many are returned to prison.
1997, 60% of those on probation or parole were returned
to prison for technical violations, 10% for other
violations, and 30% for new criminal offenses (Bureau
of Justice Statistics, 2000). Between 1990 and
1998 the number of returned probation and parole technical
violators increased 54% (NCJ, 184735). At the
end of 2001, approximately 4.7 million men and women
were on probation or parole, an increase of approximately
113,791 compared to 2000 (Bureau of Justice Statistics,
2003). It appears technical violation of conditions
of probation or parole, not commission of new crimes,
drives the revolving door of prison.
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