The prison system of the US is facing a serious decline, signaling an urgent need of reform for the criminal justice of the country.
If go by the statistics, America has 5 percent of the world’s population. But amazingly, the country also holds the 25 percent share of world’s incarcerated population.
In the past four decades, the incarceration rate in the country has more than quadrupled, imposing hefty cost of over USD 80 billion a year to the government.
About 2.3 million people are currently imprisoned. If the figures are studied in simpler terms, nearly one in every 100 Americans live in jail.
An accused faces a hefty price tag for his/her freedom. The courtrooms witness hundreds of such cases on daily basis countrywide.
The government seems to have geared up to take some measures toward bringing reforms in the country’s jail system.
As over 60 percent inmates are awaiting trial nationwide, with many not affording bail money, the government is working on reforms.
But the reforms are not relied on the crime charged and a judge’s hunch but mainly concentrated on gathering data to pick the right candidate who can safely be released on bail (to later return to court) and also find out those jail inmates who are dangerous enough and should remain locked up.
Tara Boh Klute, general manager of the Administrative Office of the Kentucky Courts, said, “It doesn’t say this person’s going to do this. If we could do that it would be amazing. But you can’t do that with people.”
Counties like New Jersey had this year voted to reform the bail system in order prevent nonviolent suspects from being locked up behind bars. Several other counties across the US are gradually moving in this direction to adopt a similar system for bail. Orange County and California are also bringing an overhaul to their criminal justice system by taking similar measures for promoting fairness, protecting the interest of both the inmates and the public and also cutting the jail costs.
“Most people understand arrest, trial and sentencing. The pretrial release decision for most systems has been this inconsequential 15- to 30-second decision. It turns out it matters for everything,” said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute.
With the leaders in both parties- Republicans and Democrats- sharing similar viewpoints on the need for reform in the country’s criminal justice delivery, the experts say mending the nation’s failed prison system had never been so easy before.