Last Updated 16 May 2021

Jail Overcrowding

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The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, also known as NORA, will solve the prison-overcrowding problem that is primarily caused by mandatory sentences for nonviolent criminals. C. I am going to explain how NORA will put an end to prison overcrowding by:  Reiterating the problems associated with prison overcrowding . Illustrating the primary cause of prison overcrowding. Describing the benefits that will result from accepting proposition .

Prison overcrowding creates inadequate healthcare for inmates, threatens the safety of Americans, and inhibits the rehabilitation of convicts.  Due to the increasing number of prisoners in American jails, we do not have sufficient facilities or funding to provide the necessary health accommodations. The Vera Institute, for example, is a nonprofit organization that works with government to improve various injustices. According to their research, “the wait for medical treatment often outlasts a prisoner’s sentence” (Gibbons 93). Not only does overcrowding threaten the health of nmates, it also jeopardizes public safety.

After finding out that California prisons were running at double their capacities, federal judges ordered that the state reduce its prisoners by about 40,000 (Liptak). Considering majority of the drug related sentences are mandatory, they may have to release prisoners who committed crimes such as armed robbery, homicide, breaking and entering, and sexual assault. These criminals may have been reformed in prison, but this is unlikely considering prison rehabilitation and reform programs are inefficient due to overcrowding.

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Research done by the University of Pennsylvania found that prisoners who graduated from college programs during their incarceration were “50% less likely to be rearrested, and 60% less likely to be re-incarcerated” (Hall). Yet, in the past, Congress has banned prisoners from such programs because of lack of funding due to overcrowding. By 1997, for example, “fewer than 2% of prisoners were enrolled” in educational programs (Erisman). Before these programs can be initiated, however, we must first deal with the cause of prison overcrowding.

Prison overcrowding is primarily caused by mandatory drug sentences.  In my opinion, the primary reason for prisons is to keep dangerous criminals off of the streets. The government, on the other hand, seems to think it is more important to keep petty drug dealers in their prisons. According to the Drug Policy Alliance Network, which is one of the nation’s leading organizations on the war on drugs, the mandatory drug policy resulted in, “more than 80 percent of the increase in the federal prison population from 1985 to 1995. ” And , “the U. S. Sentencing Commission reports that only 11 percent of federal drug defendants are high-level drug dealers. ” This means that about 90% of the 80% increase of inmates are harmless street dealers.  Instead of just slamming a harmless drug dealer into a jail cell, which ultimately results in releasing the same drug dealer after his or her sentence, policy makers should focus on drug rehabilitation, which will not only stop the problems associated with overcrowding, but also help to stop future drug violators. C. The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act is the ideal solution to prison overcrowding.

According to the Smart Voter, an organization which educates voters as to the implications of policies, NORA essentially limits the amount of prison time a harmless drug offender can serve, increases the parole of violent crimes, and creates mandatory drug rehabiliation programs for drug offenders and optional programs for the youth of our nation. NORA was originally created to fight the obscene amount of overcrowding in California prisons. I believe, however, the United States government should accept it as a federal policy, by voting for it to be a mandatory program for nonviolent drug offenders.

Especially considering “prison overcrowding is evident in almost every state,” not just the state of California.  According to an article written by Solomon Moore in The New York Times, drug sentencing has become so extreme, that carrying an illegal substance that weighs less than half of a tic tac can grant you 25 years in prison. According to the official NORA website, if NORA was accepted, within 8 years, it would save 84,000 people from facing mandatory drug sentences.  NORA will also save 2. 5 billion dollars (Facts).

This is especially important considering the costs to uphold the large amount of prisoners far exceeds the amount of money granted to higher education (Archibald). These statistics are only applied to the state of California. Just imagine how much of an impact it would have if it was implemented in every state . The reduction in the number of mandatory nonviolent sentences would greatly reduce the amount of prisoners, ultimately stopping prison overcrowding. The rehabilitation programs will also hinder future drug offenders.


Overall, it is quite clear that everyone benefits from The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act. 1. Convicted criminals will finally be given adequate healthcare as there will no longer be prison overcrowding. American citizens are safe, because prisons will no longer need to release dangerous criminals and citizens will pay less taxes towards prisons because NORA will reduce prison costs by 2. 5 billion . Nonviolent drug offenders will go through rehabilitation, instead of idiotically placing them into a jail cell, with no chance of improvement.

I leave you with this final fact: Pennsylvania prisons are already overcrowded by 8% (Prison). If we do not make a change in our prison system, we will soon reach the same overcrowding as California, in which we have to start releasing dangerous prisoners into the public. If we support NORA, hopefully this will be a future that we never have to see.

Works Cited

  1. Archibald, Randal. "California, in Financial Crisis, Opens Prison Doors. " The New York Times [New York] 23 Mar. 2010. Print.
  2. Erisman, Wendy. Learning to Reduce Recidivism: A 50-state Analysis of Postsecondary Correctional Education Policy,” Institute for Higher Education Policy, November 2005. Print.
  3. "Facts. " Yes on Proposition 5: The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act. NORA CAMPAIGN. Web. 07 Apr. 2010. . Gibbons, John J. Confronting Confinement. New York: Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, 2006. Print.
  4. Hill, Jim. "Arizona criminals find jail too in-'tents'" CNN. Cable News Network, 27 July 1999. Web. 5 Apr. 2010. . Liptak, Adam. "U. S. rison population dwarfs that of other nations. " The New York Times 23 Apr. 2008. Print.
  5. "Mandatory Minimum Sentences. " Drug Policy Alliance Network. DPA Network. Web. 5 Apr. 2010. . Moore, Solomon. "The Prison Overcrowding Fix. " The New York Times [New York] 10 Feb. 2010. Print.
  6. "Proposition 5: Nonviolent Drug Offenses, Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. " Smart Voter. 04 Nov. 2008. Web. 07 Apr. 2010. . "Prison Overcrowding: Treatment, Not Jail Time, Is Answer. " Central PA Local News. Penn Live, 21 Aug. 2009. Web. 05 Apr. 2010. .

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Jail Overcrowding. (2018, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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