The three words that precisely describe the prison conditions in the US are:
Let’s take a look at the facts, what has brought us to this point and the way forward:
A quick look at the US incarceration system
The United States is home to the world’s largest prison population. The rate of incarceration over the past four decades has grown four times. Just from 1973 to 2009, the number of prisoners in the state and federal jails grew from 200,000 to 1.5 million. During this time, another 700,000 defendants were detained in local jails.
In 2012, over 2.2 million adults were behind bars in the US. Surprisingly, the United States accounts for only 5% of the total world’s population. At the same time, 25% of the world’s prisoners are held in American jails. In fact, one out of every hundred US adults are currently behind bars. These statistics are alarmingly high and are at least five to ten times higher than the figures in European countries. To make matters worse, most of the American prison population comes from the poorly uneducated and underprivileged strata of society.
As a result, the prisons are inevitably overcrowded and the facilities are limited. The quality of life behind bars isn’t where it should be.
Prison conditions in the US
According to research, inmates are not provided with adequate medical care or education, which they’re entitled to. Most prisons are run by corrupt officials who abuse the power vested upon them. The conduct of prison guards is also reported to be largely abusive. There have been reports of the inmates being brutally tortured, beaten, raped, stabbed, and even killed.
The local jails are particularly known for being unsafe, dirty, and vermin-infested. In most cases, there’s not enough space for inmates to exercise or get some fresh air.
Additionally, the mental health considerations of inmates are largely ignored. The same study stated that more than half of the US prison population deals with some sort of mental illness. Instead of providing adequate help, jail officials are known to use physical force and solitary confinement to punish inmates.
Solitary confinement only makes matters worse. Over 600,000 inmates are currently confined in small and congested cells for around 23 hours. Most of them are only allowed outside for a shower or visits from the loved ones. This aggravates the problems further and leads to mental health conditions like paranoia, anxiety, and depression.
What can you do?
To avoid landing in such a vulnerable position, the best you can do is follow the law and refrain from acts that are punishable by law. If you’ve still ended up in legal trouble, try and post your bail as soon as possible. The sooner you post the bail, the less you’ll suffer behind bars. Bail also gives you time to focus on preparing for the hearing and fight your case better.