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An overview on the condition of prison inmates

Yet important new factors have emerged that require consideration. The correctional population has expanded more than 4. Just within prisons and jails, the population grew from 454,444 to 2. The rest of the expansion occurred among probationers and parolees BJS, 2005g. In addition, with the closing of large state mental institutions, prisons have effectively become the new mental illness asylums.

Health care within some prison systems is less than satisfactory. Through class actions over the inadequacies of state prison health-care systems, the most serious problems were largely addressed and health-care delivery systems were put in place Metzner, 2002 ; Sturm, 1993. This follows by 30 years the case of Estelle v. Gamble, in which the U.

Ethical Considerations for Research Involving Prisoners.

Supreme Court articulated a constitutionally protected right to health care in prisons and jails U. Prison research committees that may serve some type of proxy IRB role only infrequently include prisoners or prisoner representatives among their membership. All of these factors point to a population of prisoners who may be more vulnerable and require stronger protections than those inspired by the commission in the 1970s.

Local jails, usually county or city facilities, house prisoners from arraignment through conviction and for sentences usually no longer than one year. State and federal prisons incarcerate those sentenced for longer periods.

About 6 percent, or close to 99,000 prisoners, are held in privately operated facilities that incarcerate the state and federal overflow BJS, 2005a. In six states, all in the West, at least one-quarter of all persons in prisons are in private facilities BJS, 2005a.

Parole and probation are two other settings in which individuals have restricted liberties by virtue of involvement in the criminal justice system. Parole is used for offenders who are conditionally released from prison to community supervision. An offender is required to observe the conditions of parole and is under the supervision of a parole agency. Parole differs from probation, which is determined by judicial authority and is usually an alternative to initial confinement.

Table 2-1 indicates that the majority of these individuals were on probation 4 millionfollowed by confinement in prison 1. Overall, the population an overview on the condition of prison inmates 2004 was more than 4. Today, two-thirds of inmates are housed in federal and state prisons, and the other third are in local jails. The numbers in Table 2-1 are point-in-time figures. Annual flow in and out of jail, where incarceration time is comparatively short, provides a useful picture as well.

Nearly a quarter 23 percent of all jail inmates spend 14 days or less in jail, 29 percent are held from 2 to 6 months, 7 percent are held for a year or more BJS, 2004c. The transitory nature of jail confinement can have an impact on research participation, as discussed in Chapter 4. More than 62 percent of countries worldwide have rates below 150 per 100,000. By 2004, the U.

  • Women in custody faced abuses at the hands of prison guards, most of whom are men, who subjected the women to verbal harassment, unwarranted visual surveillance, abusive pat frisks and sexual assault;
  • Women are also more likely than men to be solely responsible for their children;
  • Surging prison populations and public reluctance to fund new construction produced dangerously overcrowded prisons.

The prison growth during the 1990s dwarfed the growth in any previous decade; it exceeded the prison growth of the 1980s by 61 percent and is nearly 30 times the average prison population growth of any decade before the 1970s JPI, 2002. This growth has led to serious overcrowding.

According to BJS data for 2004 BJS, 2005a24 state departments of corrections and the federal prison system are operating above capacity. The federal prison system is operating at 40 percent above capacity. The population of prisoners under jail supervision who are confined in settings outside of a jail facility has doubled since 1995 see Table 2-2.

This point is important for the Chapter 4 discussion regarding the definition of the term prisoner. In 2004, jail authorities supervised 70,548 men and women in the community in work-release, weekend reporting, electronic monitoring, and other alternative programs. Why Has the Prisoner Population Grown? The exponential growth of prison and jail populations in the last two decades has many causes.

Some relate to changes in federal and state sentencing policies, and some reflect the actions of American society in those years as it engaged in a war against drugs. BJS reports that, in 1997, 21 percent of state prisoners and more than 60 percent of federal prisoners were incarcerated for drug offenses BJS, 1999c.

Between 1995 and 2003, 49 percent of the total growth in the federal prison population was from drug offenses BJS, 2005a. Michael Jacobson, former Commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and Probation, argues in his book, Downsizing Prisons 2005that mandatory minimum sentencing, parole agencies intent on sending people back to prison, three-strike laws defined belowfor-profit prisons, and other changes in the legal system have contributed to the spectacular rise of the general prison population.

The Sentencing Project TSP came to the same conclusion, stating that rigid sentencing formulas such as mandatory sentencing and truth in sentencing often result in lengthy incarceration TSP, 2001. According to Human Rights Watch 2003the U. Nationwide, nonviolent offenders account for 72 percent of all an overview on the condition of prison inmates state prison admissions.

In some states, such as California, the third felony does not even an overview on the condition of prison inmates to be a violent crime.

Nationally, half of the states have enacted some form of three-strikes legislation, but only a handful have convicted more than 100 individuals using the statute, led by a wide margin by California, according to the Justice Policy Institute and the Sentencing Project JPI, 2004 ; TSP, 2001.

Moving into 2004, three strikes was most heavily used in three states, with 42,322 persons incarcerated under the three-strikes law in California, 7,631 in Georgia, and 1,628 in Florida JPI, 2004. Reported rates of recidivism for adult offenders in the United States are extraordinarily high, as noted in a report by the Open Society Institute OSI, 1997: In 2003, 16 percent of probationers were incarcerated because of a rule violation or a new offense BJS, 2004b. That same year, 38 percent of parolees were incarcerated because of violations of parole conditions 26 percent or committing a new crime 11 percent BJS, 2004b.

Parole officers are spending more time on policing whether conditions are violated with more drug tests, more track ing of movement, and so on and less on promoting reintegration Petersilia, 2000. Finally, admissions to state and federal prisons are outpacing releases BJS, 2005c. There was also a large increase in parole violators returning to prison between 1990 and 1998.

  • Although excessive use of physical force in these facilities had diminished in recent years, we still found excessive isolation, controls, and restrictions that were not penologically justified, and mentally ill inmates whose conditions were exacerbated by the regime of isolation and restricted activities, as well as by the lack of appropriate mental health treatment;
  • Parole officers are spending more time on policing whether conditions are violated with more drug tests, more track ing of movement, and so on and less on promoting reintegration Petersilia, 2000.

The number of returned parole violators increased 54 percent between 1990 and 1998 from 133,870 to 206,152 and has since slowed to a 2 percent annual increase BJS, 2005a. Who Is in Prison and Jail? Men far outnumber women in prisons and jails. Men make up 93 percent of all inmates BJS, 2005a.

By the end of 2004, 104,848 women and 1,391,781 men were in state or federal prisons. The female prisoner population has been rising at a faster rate than the male prisoner population Table 2-3. The overall increase since 1995 for male prisoners is 32 percent and for female prisoners, 53 percent BJS, 2005a. In 2004 BJS, 2005athat number had risen to 104,848 Table 2-3.

A large percentage of these women 85 percent were on parole or probation BJS, 1999b. Within jails specifically Table 2-4between 1990 and 2004, the female inmate population grew 134 percent, whereas the male inmate population grew by 70 percent. Not only is the female population becoming larger, but it is also becoming more diverse.

  1. The Indiana Department of Corrections instituted a number of reforms that were responsive to our concerns. They are afflicted with delusions and hallucinations, debilitating fears, extreme and uncontrollable mood swings.
  2. Women in custody faced abuses at the hands of prison guards, most of whom are men, who subjected the women to verbal harassment, unwarranted visual surveillance, abusive pat frisks and sexual assault.
  3. As a result, the United States has a large and permanent population of prisoners who will die of old age behind bars. Women prisoners also are more likely to report medical problems after admission than men BJS, 2001b.
  4. Nationwide, nonviolent offenders account for 72 percent of all new state prison admissions.
  5. In a survey of prisoners in New Jersey Blitz et al.

Increasingly, incarcerated women are older and more likely minority and drug abusers than earlier populations of women prisoners BJS, 2005a ; GAO, 19992000. They have sporadic employment histories and are disproportionately women of color.

They are less likely than men to have committed violent offenses and more likely to have been convicted of crimes involving drugs or property. Often, their property offenses are economically driven, motivated by poverty and by the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Women prisoners also are more likely to report medical problems after admission than men BJS, 2001b. These data and the rising rates of incarceration among women make health care for women in prison a pressing issue Young and Reviere, 2001. Women offenders have needs that are different from those of men, stemming in part from their disproportionate victimization from sexual and physical abuse and their responsibility for children, according to the authors of Women Offenders: Medical concerns that relate to reproductive health and to the psychosocial matters an overview on the condition of prison inmates surround imprisonment of single female heads of households are often overlooked.

Nearly 6 in 10 women in state prisons had experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past BJS, 1999b. They are more likely to be injecting drugs, using multiple drugs, and trading sex for drugs and money. In a survey of prisoners in New Jersey Blitz et al. An active addiction disorder was present in one-half to three-quarters of women with behavioral health disorders. National data collected by the BJS in 1998 also showed more women than men 20 percent versus 16 percent are diagnosed with mental disorders BJS, 1999a.

Although substance abuse is common, drug rehabilitation programs are not common in these institutions Braithwaite et al. Consequently, when women prisoners are released, they are at high risk of falling back into addiction with exposure to the environmental pressures that led them there in the first place. Women are also more likely than men to be solely responsible for their children.

Two-thirds of incarcerated women have children younger than 18 years BJS, 1999b. Just under a quarter million children have mothers who are serving time in prison or jail BJS, 1999b. Racial and ethnic disparities Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately represented in prison and jail populations. At midyear 2004, an estimated 12. Young black men are particularly hit hard.

In this section

Table 2-6 shows jail incarceration rates by race and ethnicity from 1990 through 2004. Educational level and reading skills of prisoners Often individuals come into the correctional system with little education and, therefore, poor reading, writing, math, and oral communication skills Haigler et al. Poor reading and communication skills pose a challenge to informed consent, which is often handled through written documents, and points to the importance of ensuring that informed consent procedures are monitored to determine that prisoners truly understand what they are consenting to.

The BJS 2003b reported on the poor educa tion level of prisoners. In comparison, 18 percent of the general population age 18 or older had not finished the twelfth grade. Minority prisoners had lower education levels than whites 53 percent of Hispanics, 44 percent of blacks, and 27 percent of whites had no diploma or general equivalency diploma.

Prisoners tend to leave the system poorly educated as well. Providing Education to Prisoners, in the shift from rehabilitation to punishment and the exponential population growth, educational and vocational programs, which, OSI notes, correlate positively with the ability to remain out of prison, have been substantially reduced.

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Despite evidence supporting the connection between higher education and lowered levels of recidivism, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 ended access to federal Pell Grants for undergraduate education to all prisoners.

At least 25 states cut back on vocational and technical training programs since the Pell Grants were cut. In 1990, there were 350 higher education programs for inmates; by 1997, only 8. Eight in 10 state prisons offer basic education and high school courses BJS, 2003b. Fewer than one in three offer college classes.