Rampant prison congestion has recently been a major topic in the criminal justice literature with a number of authors citing the reasons, consequences and potential policy prescriptions that identify, analyze and seek to remedy this growing challenge. As acknowledged by Vanderzyl (1992), cramping an overwhelming number of inmates into existing prison spaces, with gyms and storage spaces converted into sleeper cells, real challenges arise from the increasing lack of privacy. Problems such as disease, amplified violence, increased cost of institutional maintenance and associated increases in illicit activity and corruption among prison officials are generally attributed to increasing rates of incarceration (McLaughlin, 2012; Vanderzyl, 1992).
As a response to these challenges arising out of overcrowded prisons, a number of authors suggest positive steps forward. For instance, Gainey and Payne (2000) note the importance of enhancing the security of ankle monitors as to endorse the practice of placing offenders under house arrest as opposed to relegating them to overcrowded prisons. As such, these authors propose that not only will this innovative technology alleviate the congestion crisis in prisons, but the practice of placing offenders under house arrest will also pave the way into a more humane and rehabilitative system that promotes effective behavior modification and subsequent social integration.
Gainey, R. R., Payne, B. K. (2000). Understanding the Experience of House Arrest With Electronic Monitoring: An Analysis of Quantitative and Qualitative Data. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 44(1), 84-96.
McLaughlin, M. (2012, September 15). Overcrowding in federal prisons harms inmates, guards: GAO Report. Retrieved from Huffington Post Web site: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/prison-overcrowding-report_n_1883919.html
Vanderzyl, K. (1992). Politics, Priorities and Punishment: Crowding within the American Correctional System. Undergraduate Review, 5(1), 29-38.