The Overcriminalization; is it a problem in the United States..?
Buzzwords such as overcriminalization, does a person’s crime equal the amount of time they are supposed to receive. Well one notion is in the headlines on a weekly basis — when it comes to illegal immigrants it seems the more people they kill the lesser time in U.S. prisons they seem to be doing. Therefore, an extremely interesting article has been picked up by the think tank, The Heritage Foundation, as well as their research departments writers, yet most importantly, my effort with this writing is based on John Malcolm. Mr. Malcolm is the Director and the Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
In addition, his reporting is based on the testimony he proffered before The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, Malcolm starts his findings before the Committee:
“I would like to stress at the outset that sentencing reform is a difficult issue. Some believe that our current sentencing regime is unfair, that too much discretion has been removed from judges, that the pendulum has swung too far in terms of imposing harsh sentences, and that increased incarceration has led to other inequities in our society. Others believe that increased incarceration and harsh sentences have taken some very dangerous people off of the streets and have resulted in dramatic decreases in crime, and that if such sentences are cut, crime may well increase to the detriment of society. I understand both of these perspectives and understand why people of good will passionately disagree about this issue.
Okay it is hoped that all readers understand Mr. Malcolm’s opening to his address as
stated above. However, one point is not made and that is the depth and breadth of sentencing is not equally in tack. In other words where I am heading is in the notion of sentencing: Does it exist for all; or, are certain sections of society immune from the legal activity and sentencing and thus, giving them the advantage of double standards?
When crime rates soared in the 1960s, the idea of putting more people in prison for longer periods of time made a lot of sense, and, at least to some extent, it worked. Crime rates eventually leveled off and, since the 1990s, have dropped rather precipitously. While there are certainly places in this country where crime rates remain staggeringly and persistently high, we are, for the most part, much safer.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 1993 to 2013, violent crime rates fell from 80 to 23 victimizations per 1,000 people, and property crimes fell from 352 to 131 victimizations per 1,000 households. Increased incarceration, especially of violent offenders, certainly deserves some of the credit for this steep drop in crime rates, along with other factors like advances in policing techniques such as hot-spot policing in high-crime areas and greater attention by homeowners to self-protection through the installation of locks, burglar alarms, and other measures. How much credit these factors deserve, though, is a matter of some debate among criminologists.
While hardly insignificant, this means that there are other factors that would account for the remaining 65 percent or more of the reduction in violent crime. Moreover, incarceration, while certainly necessary, is a very expensive option. As for me this is where some of the trouble begins. Anything that is going to cost the federal government outlaying funds is going to cause some idiosyncrasies in all forms of subsidies.
The cost of incarcerating a single federal prisoner has steadily risen over the past 15 years. In fiscal year 2000, the per capita cost of incarceration for federal prisoners was $21,603. Today, it costs $30,620 per year to incarcerate each federal prisoner. It costs even more to incarcerate a prisoner in the state system. As of fiscal year 2010, the average annual cost of incarcerating a state prisoner was $31,286, with the costs ranging from $14,603 in Kentucky to $60,076 in New York.
We have a counter for this problem as well. Consider how the name “Club Fed” received its name. Furthermore, when one considers the amount of funding proffered by the Internal Revenue Service, and other primarily executive branch decisions one can see all to clear the posh environments that many of these “prisoner’s” have.
In addition to budgetary expenditures, increased incarceration comes with a human cost that we should not ignore. There are now over two million adults behind bars in this country. As of March 2009, roughly one out of every 31 adults was under some form of correctional control, either through incarceration or supervision; this compares to one out of every 77 adults during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
This is a good point to stop for now. Up to this point the acquired information has been invaluable. Therefore, tomorrow we will put forth the ending of the discussion.