Prison Overcrowding

February 4, 1994 • Volume 4, Issue 5
Will building more prisons cut the crime rate?
By Charles S. Clark


Public outrage over several recent murders has prompted politicians and crime-weary citizens to demand that dangerous criminals be locked away for life. But the get-tough campaign is colliding with the reality of a prison system bursting at the seams. The federal prison system is 37 percent over-capacity, while budget-strapped states are housing prisoners in tents, hallways and gymnasiums -- or releasing them early. Conservatives cite government's duty to protect the public and argue that investing in new prison construction will pay off in long-range crime reduction. Liberals criticize the national trend toward mandatory sentences -- enacted largely as part of the “war on drugs” -- as a wasteful approach that is unaffordable and unlikely to cut crime.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 12, 2019  Bail Reform
Oct. 19, 2018  For-Profit Prisons
Mar. 03, 2017  Women in Prison
Jan. 10, 2014  Sentencing Reform
Sep. 14, 2012  Solitary Confinement
Mar. 11, 2011  Downsizing Prisons
Dec. 04, 2009  Prisoner Reentry
Apr. 06, 2007  Prison Reform
Jan. 05, 2007  Prison Health Care
Sep. 17, 1999  Prison-Building Boom
Feb. 04, 1994  Prison Overcrowding
Oct. 20, 1989  Crime and Punishment: a Tenuous Link
Aug. 04, 1989  Can Prisons Rehabilitate Criminals?
Aug. 07, 1987  Prison Crowding
Nov. 25, 1983  Prison Overcrowding
Feb. 26, 1982  Religious Groups and Prison Reform
Jun. 18, 1976  Criminal Release System
Mar. 12, 1976  Reappraisal of Prison Policy
Oct. 20, 1971  Racial Tensions in Prisons
Oct. 13, 1965  Rehabilitation of Prisoners
Oct. 09, 1957  Prisons and Parole
May 02, 1952  Penal Reform
Jan. 30, 1937  The Future of Prison Industry
May 08, 1930  Prison Conditions and Penal Reform
Drug Abuse
Sentencing and Corrections