Prison overcrowding is a major issue in virtually every state and in many municipalities. This is a noted problem nationwide. The reasons are that judges are sentencing more offenders to jails and prisons. State and federal sentencing guidelines have prescribed specific sentencing ranges for various types off offenders and offenses committed. Inmate populations are increasing due to the number of repeat offenders returning to our jails and prison systems. It is a documented fact that at the local, state, and federal levels, prison and jail populations are at an all-time high. The research reported in the National Institute of Justice supports these positions and has the appropriate documentation to support these notions. While there are a great many research studies on the broad subject of prison overcrowding, making use of research findings can be a daunting task. You must consider the information needs of the various components of the criminal justice system:
- Law Enforcement
- Juvenile Justice
- Homeland Security
The various components of the criminal justice system really do not act independently of one another. The system is directly impacted by each component. For instance, when law enforcement arrests more individuals, the courts now have to hear and decide the cases, which impacts court dockets. Large court dockets mean that there is a backlog of cases but they are eventually heard and decided. Then, convicted offenders are given correctional sentences, ranging from probation, community service, and community corrections to jail and prison time. As a result, eventually our correctional institutions get filled up and become highly overcrowded. In essence, each criminal justice system component has a direct impact on the other parts of the system.
- Locate at least two research articles on the topic of prison overcrowding from either the National Institute of Justice Data Collections or the National Criminal Justice Reference Service Databases. The studies do not necessarily have to agree on conclusions or recommendations.
- Prepare a 3–4 page paper that includes a summary of the research articles and describes how you would present the findings of the studies for each of the five components of the criminal justice system listed above.
- Be sure to support your recommendations with authoritative sources and cite all references in the APA style.