Addressing Prison Overcrowding


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Do you think a tent city approach is a viable option for addressing prison overcrowding? Explain why or why not.
When I first found out about this, I loved the idea and still do. Being in the military and being deployed to multiple locations across the globe, tent cities where a way for the government to cut cost on billeting. This of course is still the case, but in this instance, it saves the county Maricopa lots of money, while effectively addressing the overcrowding in prisons. While tents may not protect the inmate from all external factors like weather, it still provides an adequate living quarter. If the tent city is adequate for military members who are law abiding citizens, then in my opinion it is more than adequate for inmates. As discussed in the Film Media Group (2007), there are risks with having many prisoners in tents, as long as the correctional officers work together to stop unauthorized illegal activity, much like in the video, then the correctional facility will work. In this case, it places inmates in austere environment, and has the potential to reduce recidivism.

What are some other approaches you think would help alleviate prison overcrowding?
There is only one thing I can think of, and that is selective incarceration. As Schmalleger (2019) describes, many states had to “scramble in attempt to implement selective incarceration principles. With that in mind, I would use selective incarceration on any drug cases. As a societal norm change is taking place, where marijuana is becoming legal, the same approach must be taken for other drug crimes. I, however, am not advocating for a free for all on not incarcerating drug cases. I am however, making a point where there needs to be an analysis done as to what drug offenses should not require incarceration, rather made to pay fines. This can perhaps also go into crimes that mentally ill persons are charged with.




Films Media Group. (2007). Lockdown: Tent City. Retrieved from:



Schmalleger, F. (2019). Criminal justice: a brief introduction, (13th ed.). Upper Saddle

            River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall




Do you think a tent city approach is a viable option for addressing prison overcrowding? Explain why or why not.

Prison overcrowding will continue to be a concern, as an estimated 6,741,400 individuals were supervised by U.S. adult correctional systems in 2011 (BJS, 2012). I think employing a tent city approach is a viable option, but comes with some aspects that have to be discussed further. In my opinion, we should make incarceration as tough as possible, not to a point where it’s cruel and unusual, but it shouldn’t be easy. The key to reducing recidivism is crime deterrence, if an individual knows that they could potentially be living in less than ideal living conditions, maybe they will think twice before committing a crime. I know this may sound like wishful thinking, but deterring a crime from happening in the first place is our best shot at reducing the effects of prison overcrowding. The Lockdown: Tent City film (2007) reported that Phoenix, AZ has more inmates then jail cells, but the Sherriff will always make room no matter what. I think the tent city approach was his solution to making room and used it as a deterrence tool that has proved to be effective. Again, part of being in jail is having your freedoms rescinded this should be tough in order to curb inmates from committing future crimes. There are a couple of aspects that I would need further information on prior to siding with the tent city approach. 1) What would be the actions if the tent city was faced with a fire, what does the evacuation plan look like? 2) During times of inclimate weather or natural disasters where would the inmates be held temporarily? 3) Having cells, creates inmate separation, which prevents the spread of illnesses/diseases and having a tent city approach doesn’t provide separation. How will this be controlled? I think the weather concern is less of a real issue in Phoenix excluding the extreme heat, but inmates must be protected adequately.

What are some other approaches you think would help alleviate prison overcrowding? Please use your readings to support your response.

There are different ways that we can combat overcrowding within our prisons. In my opinion, it boils down to three lines of effort. 1) For nonviolent offenders early release is an option and approving parole when an inmate achieves the necessary prerequisites for release. 2) The mentally ill and drug addicted inmates must have access to adequate care. 3) Reducing recidivism rates in our nation would directly combat prison overcrowding. Lastly, providing judges with alternate sentencing techniques can also be of a great aid to prison overcrowding. 

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2012.). Correctional population in the United States (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.), 2011 (NCJ 239972)

Films Media Group. (2007). Lockdown: Tent city. Films On Demand.

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