The Growth of Adult Corrections in the United States

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Position Analysis Paper: The Growth of Adult Corrections in the United States

Background: The growth of adult corrections in the United States is a critical issue for the correctional administrator as evidenced by a number of the readings in the first few weeks of this class. It is a perennial political policy issue for legislators, a difficult challenge for the executive branch of government, and a popular topic for the wide variety of news media available to the public today. Growth affects departmental policy, program opportunities and, most importantly, budget development. Although there are dramatic variations from state to state, there are clear trends that can be analyzed projecting future correctional growth. Even if no growth occurs in caseload, increases in the cost of inflation guarantees that the future budget will be larger than the current year appropriation.

Assignment: The objective of this assignment is to evaluate the history of U.S. prison correctional populations since 1980 and develop some conclusions regarding the probable impact of the trend you identify upon the U.S. correctional system. Students are to use library resources to find at least three peer reviewed, refereed or academic journal articles (or other reference documents once this minimum requirement is achieved) relating to the growth of adult corrections in the United States during this critical time period. One of the purposes of this assignment is to develop the student’s ability to do graduate level research on a topic. The paper must be a minimum of five complete pages of text. Please insure that you address the following issues in your essay:

  • Document the overall growth of adult correctional (prison) populations in the United States (keeping in mind that measurement is the key to this element).
  • Identify the measurement definitions and important measurement issues related to this trend. (For example, if the general population increases during that period by a specific percentage and the prison population grows by the same percentage, there is really no “real” growth associated with that trend. It should be a population growth that is anticipated and funded). Insure that you identify and discuss the term “incarceration rate” in your analysis and that it specifically a rate measuring the prison population. Do not include jails, parole and probation in this rate.
  • The identification of key factors associated with this growth pattern (what are the documented issues you can identify and cite that have fueled these changes).
  • The documented impact associated with this growth on correctional systems (notice this does not include generic sociological impacts).
  • The possible solutions to correctional population growth or the continuing efforts associated with the relief of growth tendencies.
  • The probable results of the correctional growth trend you have identified.

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