Poor living conditions among prisoners

Living Conditions in Correctional Facilities

Correctional facility refers to a place where individuals who have been arrested or charged with a crime are kept. It can be a prison, jail or any other incarceration place set aside by government officials (Beckett, K. (2018). Correctional facilities are used to rehabilitate and confine prisoners within an area. They contain separate division depending on the prisoners’ categories. In the United States, prisoners are allowed to participate in vocational and educational programs and paid technical applications. State laws protect correctional facilities, and they operate under constitutional guidelines.  The bill also protects prisoners against inhuman and abusive conditions. Prisoners are also safeguarded against unusual punishment and cruel treatment by prisoners’ guards. Despite the continuous efforts by both federal and state government to improve the condition of correctional facilities, the standard of living in these facilities have continued to worsen raising concerns over the security and health of prisoners. This paper will discuss poor living conditions among prisoners residing in the correction facilities and the solutions to address the issue.

In the last five decades, the number of people facing criminal charges in the United States has increased signification, leading to a rate of imprisonment. The U.S. has the highest number of prisoners in the whole world. It is estimated that approximately one-quarter of total prisoners in the world are held in U.S. prisons.  The rate of men imprisonment in America is estimated to be 1 per cent among men and at least five times higher than in western countries. Majority of prisoners in the U.S. are men aged below 40 years, and a more significant number come less disadvantaged and minority communities in the United States (Kajeepeta et al., 2020).

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In most cases, the prisoners often carry an additional deficit of mental and physical illness, alcohol and drug addiction and inadequate work experience. With colossal population number and other factors, the living conditions of prisoners have continued to deteriorate over time. The current terms of the correctional facilities have drawn critiques across the world, with a section of American population demanding to know what could have possibly led to massive and why the government has not been aggressive to come up with solutions of solving the issue.

Before discussing the possible solutions to the problem, it is essential to identify the root causes of the problem. It becomes easier to eliminate a problem after identifying its sourceand coming up with a mechanism of avoiding or reducing its occurrences. Many factors have been blamed for the poor standard of living correctional facilities ranging from self-made problems to issues of national concern like sentencing policies. According to previous studies, prison policy, sentencing policy have an impact on the crowding of correctional facilities that have eventually led to poor living conditions in the facilities (Limoncelli et al., 2019). The study further reveals that about 53 per cent of state inmates were imprisoned for non-violent crimes. Still, the criminal justice policies have not been protecting such individual; instead, the policies have increased the sentencing, thus creating much congestion in the prisons. Secondly, violence among the inmates has created much destruction and death of many prisoners. Intimidation and extortion among the inmates are also common the correctional facilities making it impossible for some inmates to access some services like education, food, health, training and any other service offered within the facility. Thirdly, the most correctional facilities were not adequately maintained, they were dirty, vermin-infested and unsafe for living. Poor maintenance of the environment is making the place dangerous for a healthy life, thus reducing the living standard. Prisoners in super-maximum security prisons are also left in small isolated rooms for long hours. Another factor that contributes to poor living conditions is abusive treatment by correctional officers, particularly the ones attached in supermax prisons. There have been reported cases of prisoners being shot by correctional officers. In other cases, the guards have been reports to deny the prisoners access to basic things like healthcare, food and education. The issue of sexual harassment and other abuses is also common in many corrections facilities especially among women who have been imprisoned in state prison, local jails and federal prisons (Goulette et al., 2018). Many incarcerated women are sexually molested by correctional officers who demand sexual favours in return of essential services like medication and food. Men are also sexually abused by fellow men, a behaviour that is common in state and federal prison.

In my view, there is no much difference between the textbook, American Corrections: Concepts and Controversies, my sources and the professional that I interviewed. By reading the book, conducting personal research and talking an expert, I was able to gather adequate information regarding the condition of correctional facilities in the United States. I was able to identify some causes of poor living standards in the facilities and the possible solution to the problem. The textbook gives a penetrating view of the correction facilities aspects such as sentencing, prison, jail and prohibition. It provides the reader with an incite of the current states of United States correctional system and how issues relating to the system can be approached (Krisberg et al., 2018) The book also gives more practical information about the correction facilities. The little difference between the book and my source is that the information from the textbook is more current and useful, unlike some sources which contained information that is obsolete and does not apply in the current states of affairs. Comparing the information from the textbook and information from professional, I noted very close similarities, except for a few areas which included personal experience and therefore not captured in the book.

To solve the problem of poor living conditions in correctional facilities in the United States, some actions have to be taken to ensure that the identified causes are avoided, prevented or reduced. Some of the solutions to the problem are as follows. Firstly, improving the sanitation level in the correctional facilities. Poor sanitation is one of the significant sources of unhealthy living conditions; therefore if cleanliness is developed, the living condition will be improved as well. To improve sanitation, the inmates can be trained on ways of maintaining basic sanitation and personal hygiene (Cottrell et al., 2019) Secondly, establishing food production programs like livestock rearing, vegetable cultivation to increase the amount and variety of food available in prison. Thirdly, reduce prison idleness by increasing opportunities for cultural and religious activities, exercise and sports. Participation in such activities will reduce stress among the inmates improve their health. Fourthly, Classifying prisoners based on risk level. Riskier people requires tight security so that they do not get the opportunity to molest their fellows. Inmates with lower risk required less protection, such an action will have reduced cases of sexual and abuse and intimidation among the inmates. Staffs member, including all the prisoners, should be adequately trained on how to handle prisoners to reduce instances of prison strike and killing between guards and the inmates. They should build a healthy and respectful relationship with the inmates for a healthy living. Lastly, the state and federal judicial system should review the cases to control the instances of non-sentencing, thus reducing overcrowding in the correctional facilities.

To some extent, the information I have gathered has affected my perception of the current correctional system. Most of the information I have been reading about the condition of correction facilities in the nation are from social media platforms of which better part of it is corrupted and bias. I have always known that our correctional facilities are not in good condition but not an extent that I have learned in this research. I have realized that a lot of information is being hidden from the public. There is much more than what we now about correctional facilities, the conditions in the facilities are pathetic and people are living a more pathetic than I ever Imagined. I believe that prisoners deserve the right to access basic things in life just like the rest of us. Therefore, the state and the federal government should move with speed to ensure that issues in the correctional facilities are addressed.

In conclusion, the issue of poor living condition in correctional facilities is getting out of hand need to be addressed in an immediate. The problem is caused by factors such as overcrowding in prisons, abusive guards, intimidation and extortion of inmates and poor sanitation. The condition is becoming worse day by day, and therefore immediate action is required to protect prisoners from these challenges. Some of the solutions to the poor living conditions include offering education programs on sanitation, increasing food accessibility, protecting inmates from exploitation by correctional officers and intimidation by fellow inmates and controlling overcrowding in the facilities.


Beckett, K. (2018). The politics, promise, and peril of criminal justice reform in the context of mass incarceration. Annual Review of Criminology, 1, 235-259.

Cottrell, D., Herron, M. C., Rodriguez, J. M., & Smith, D. A. (2019). Mortality, incarceration, and African American disenfranchisement in the contemporary United States. American Politics Research, 47(2), 195-237.

Goulette, N., Johnson, K., & Vaughn, S. (2018). Exploring Judicial Discretion and Correctional Policy in the Practice of Violation of probation Holds in One Unique County Facility in Northwest Florida. Corrections, 1-18.

Kajeepeta, S., Rutherford, C. G., Keyes, K. M., El-Sayed, A. M., &Prins, S. J. (2020). County Jail Incarceration Rates and County Mortality Rates in the United States, 1987–2016. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1), S109-S115.

Krisberg, B. A., Marchionna, S., &Hartney, C. J. (2018). American corrections: Concepts and controversies. Sage Publications.

Limoncelli, K. E., Mellow, J., & Na, C. (2019). Determinants of Intercountry Prison Incarceration Rates and Overcrowding in Latin America and the Caribbean. International Criminal Justice Review, 1057567719830530.

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