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Why Should We Care About What Happens in Prison?

By Christopher Zoukis

Here at the Prison Law Blog our goal is to expose issues as they relate to prisoners’ rights, prison law, and violations of civil rights in American prisons.  Our goal is to be a hub of information so that criminal defense attorneys, politicians, and the families of prisoners have the opportunity to find out what is really occurring in the United States criminal justice system.

But why does that matter?

Why should others care about what happens to inmates — to “criminals” — after they have been convicted of a crime, sent to prison, and seemingly forgotten?

The Societal Effects of Experiences in Prison

What happens in prison affects everyone, no matter their relationship to the American criminal justice system.  Since those incarcerated are separated from the rest of society (and their experiences are insulated from society, too), it’s easy to ignore or forget about them.  This is a sad truth since their experiences in prison certainly affect everyone in America, criminal and law-abiding citizen alike.  It’s important to remember that:

  • Prisoners Are Eventually Released from Custody: According to the United States Department of Justice, as many as 650,000 prisoners or more are released from custody every year.  Every single one of those individuals will continue to affect society in some way — positively or negatively — for years, many years, to come.  In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported that as many as 95 percent of American prisoners will one day be released from correctional custody.  Finding a way to create more positive outcomes is crucial to reducing future crimes, victims, and the fiscal and social consequences of both.

  • Prisons Affect the Economy: Both prisons and prisoners have a marked effect on our local, state, and national economies.  The more inmates in prison, the more the state and national economies struggle.  In addition, prisoners that succeed after prison contribute to their local, state, and national economies, while those that struggle create further drain on them.  It’s in everyone’s best interest for prisoners to succeed.  Likewise, fighting repeat crime should revolve around the research, not around our ideals of enhanced punishments and reduced rehabilitative and educational opportunities in prisons.

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