Despite the reforms in criminal sentencing, the US is still leading in the world imprisonment with a total of 2.1 million offenders under the national prisons. It is estimated that there has been a 500% increase in the number of people locked in prison over the last 30 years. This has impacted greatly, for it has brought about congestion in prison and has burdened the government for it has lacked funds to expand the penal system. At this time of economic crisis, the lawmakers are advised to forgo expensive policies that divert resources from education, health concern, and child services to prison expansion.
Despite great opposition to large-scale incarceration, the federal government still continues with this form of sentencing. Large-scale incarceration has been observed as not the best method of achieving public protection and denies other important sectors of the economic resources that are crucial for economic growth and development.
The sentencing policies that were brought about to fight substance abuse have resulted in a steady increase in the number of inmates convicted of substance abuse. The prisoners incarcerated at the federal level because of substance abuse account for more than half of all inmates. This increase can be estimated to be thirteen-fold according to trends from 1980. The majority of the inmates are low-level drug traders and have no past criminal record. There is racial disparity for those convicted of drugs in Federal sentencing. The whites are more likely to get a second chance than black. It has been observed that if you are black and a first-time offender, there is a 66% chance of getting a felony offense for drug conviction than white.
Women in the justice system
Women convicted of drug offenses account for a third of the total women incarcerated, and the number is increasing at almost double the rate of men convicted of the drug. These women have very vital histories of sexual and physical abuse, an unbelievable high rate of HIV infection, and drug abuse. The federal sentencing on women resulted in an increased number of children suffering from their mothers’ incarceration and the complete loss of family linkages. The life sentence imposed on women convicted of substance abuse offenses has continued to deny women welfare benefits and has impacted negatively on their children.
The federal sentencing has caused people convicted of felonies, mostly those associated with drug abuse, not to access employment, receive welfare benefits, access public housing, and also be able to access loans for higher education. This has resulted in obstacles that prevent individuals’ social and economic advancement.