Prison Overcrowding as Impact of Maryland’s War on Drugs

Criminal Justice System’s prison facilities are now overcrowded due to the ever increasing number of drug offenders. This paper discusses such kind of congestion impact with an aim to draw possible solutions to the problem. In doing so, the paper will particularly consider the alternative correctional initiatives of Maryland resulting from its war against drugs. Ultimately, the paper aims for public’s realization of the programs in order to eventually resolve the overcrowding of jail facilities.

Prison Overcrowding as Impact of Maryland’s War on Drugs Efforts to fight people’s addiction to drugs and the significant rise of drug-motivated crimes have resulted into several implications. Notable of which is the undeniable overcrowding in prison and correctional facilities due to apparent space limitation and decreasing appropriation. Earnest attempts to address, if not resolve the concern, have turned futile. This failure was attributed to several factors where plans to solve the problem appear do not appear to be feasible.

This is because the proposals, in fact, were not intended to effectively work out the situation from its foremost cause. Hence, unless drug addiction is solved or that drug dependents were rehabilitated first, problems such as the increase in number of drug-motivated criminals and their subsequent buildup in prison will continue. In ultimately achieving therefore the workable solution to the issue of prison overcrowding, it is empirical that programs and actions are aimed at eventually solving the problem at its very core.

Noting that the main and most relevant cause of congestion in jail facilities is the obvious influx of criminals convicted for drug-related charges, authorities have acknowledged the reality that such condition makes life behind prison bars more unbearable. In fact, this is prominent for both the prisoners and prison staff. This due to the reality that as the number of inmates increases, their accommodation inside the jail is affected hence the operation of the prison work force is likewise disturbed.

Such condition is proven by concrete facts and figures which definitely show and prove that while the percentage of imprisonment, which involves criminals who have committed murder, robbery and burglary, is stable; drug-related crimes have progressively increased. When this is measured, around six out of ten criminals were imprisoned for possession or use of drugs. It is then alarming to note that the national structure of prison facilities was insufficiently built to accommodate or even adjust to the growing number of convicted drug offenders.

In a more specific scenario, the existing jail system is now operating more than its size and capability by some 19 percent thus confirming that there is an overcrowding of drug criminals in prisons (“Prison And The War On Drugs,” 2009). Corroborating the existing dilemma is the study, conducted by Kuziemko and Levitt (2003), which analyzed and determined the condition of locking up drug offenders.

The authors supported the premise that prison congestion created a 15-fold increase in a span of two decades starting from early 1980s to early 2000s. To be specific, the analysis signified that from close to 25,000 prisoners more than twenty years ago, the number of inmates was estimated to have reached near the half million mark. In the same experiment, the two also learned of the relevant effects of such remarkable rise in the proportion of drug offenders as compared with their supposed or respective jail accommodation.

Thus despite that the two have made statement on the considerable effect of the increase in the imprisonment of drug offenders, that is has subsequently resulted into soaring drug prices; the growing drug offenders absolutely paved the way for overcrowding in jail facilities (Kuziemko & Levitt, 2003). Evaluating further the issue, it is now valuable to consider that prison overcrowding is not totally a hopeless case.

Taking note of the fact that jail facilities have became repository of criminals who have violated laws resulting from drug addiction, it is then practical to state that such kind of offenders may be regarded as non-hostile felons compared with hardened criminals. From this, it is also rational to say that drug offenders actually set restricted or controllable dangers to the society. This is because they are not the type of hard-core offenders for which the jail system was essentially formed. This is where rehabilitation programs emerge and eventually provide help and benefit to drug offenders and the prison structure in general.

This is under the principle that treating than putting them to jail is more advantageous (Kuziemko & Levitt, 2003). Putting this issue in a specific perspective, it was validated in the State of Maryland that is has continued to experience an increase in the population of drug offenders thereby congesting majority of its jail facilities. In particular, such growth in the number criminals with drug-related cases has surpassed the State’s prison capacity by an amazing 100 percent. Evidently, this problem is attributed to Maryland’s continued “War on Drugs” and eventual imprisonment of drug offenders.

However, it is worthy to consider that Maryland has created alternative ways to sanction their drug offenders. The continued doubling in the percentage of drug offenders has expectedly congested prison facilities but Maryland has now existing optional correctional initiatives. Realizing the need for increased awareness and adherence to the nature of alternative solution to drug offenses, it will be beneficial and definitely practical for Maryland to resort and eventually hold on to the provision of prison programs which substitute to the inadequacy of their existing jail system (Lavine, Lozowski, Powell, Sivillo & Traeger, 2001).

Notable from these plans is Maryland’s Correctional Options Program or COP. These workable solutions include the “Intensive Supervision Probation” or ISP which is a program that emphasizes on the stability of drug offenders because of the provision of a more intense observation and supervision. Second could be the “Re-Entry After-Care Center” which certifies the rehabilitation and aftercare plans to be specifically provided to out-patient drug offenders who were able to complete more than one month of indoor treatment.

Last may be called “Drug Court” which is considered to be front-end redirecting option which will enable drug offenders to be sidetracked in drug rehabilitation alternation punishment rather than imprisonment (Lavine, Lozowski, Powell, Sivillo & Traeger, 2001). War on drugs has indeed proven to overcrowd prisons. However, citing Maryland’s alternative plans to treat rather than jail drug offenders, the problem can now be ultimately solved. References Kuziemko, I. & Levitt, S. D. (2003). An empirical analysis of imprisoning drug offenders. Journal of Public Economics, 88.

Retrieved February 18, 2009, from http://pricetheory. uchicago. edu/levitt/Papers/KuziemkoLevitt2004. pdf Lavine, A. , Lozowski, B. , Powell, H. , Sivillo, M. & Traeger, K. (2001). Issues in Maryland Sentencing – The Impact of Alternative Sanctions on Prison Populations. Retrieved February 19, 2009, from http://www. msccsp. org/publications/issues_altsanctions. html Prison And The War On Drugs. (2009). Crime and Justice, 3. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from http://law. jrank. org/pages/1809/Prisons-Problems-Prospects-Prisons-war-on-drugs. html