The United States has a higher incarceration rate than any other nation in the world; although the nation makes up less than 5 percent of the global population, it is home to around one-fourth of the world’s total prisoners. These numbers require the criminal justice system within the U.S. to be rather expansive. People in pursuit of criminal justice degree jobs can find work in a number of different departments or agencies, which work to protect the overall safety of the country by enforcing criminal justice laws.
The incarceration of criminals not only creates obvious social issues, but is also of high expense to the federal and state governments. The nation’s rate of reoffending is similarly high, creating quite an obstacle for criminal justice professionals to overcome. By acknowledging this national incarceration crisis on another level, many individual states are working to amend their own criminal justice practices. The state of Louisiana, for example, is taking initiative and has formed a partnership with the Pew Center on the States in attempt to lower its incarceration rate in addition to reducing its number of released offenders who return to prison.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said that the state’s efforts with the Pew Center are designed to create new legislation that will aim to update current criminal justice practices and also to recommend these new strategies to the Louisiana Sentencing Commission. The Pew Center has worked with over 20 states to create similar initiatives. Efforts often involve alternative sentencing solutions such as residential treatment programs.
“Clearly we must do a better job, we must address the effectiveness of our current corrections strategies,” Jindal said.
The Pew Center is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts nonprofit that works to identify and help solve critical issues that face U.S. states. The organization aims to keep the public aware of social issues and to improve public policy. Adam Gelb is leading the Pew Center’s work in Louisiana. He said that “the goal of the research will be to find ways of keeping truly violent, career criminals in jail while finding ways of turning low-level and non-violent offenders into productive citizens.” Gelb is the director of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project.
Louisiana is facing a state budget deficit of around $1.6 billion and looking for ways to cut government expenses. Efforts have been made in recent years to lower the numbers of incarcerated individuals, but they have often been shot down by legislators who prefer to take a tough and aggressive stance on crime. Currently, the state holds 881 per 100,000 adults in prison. The national average, which is the highest in the world, falls around 502 per 100,000. Louisiana currently holds around 40,000 inmates.
The rate at which released criminals return to prison is partly to blame for national incarceration issues. Combatting this problem may be the initial key to reducing the population in U.S. prisons. In Louisiana, professionals working in criminal justice degree jobs have created re-entry centers in certain parishes, which have already reduced the state’s reoffending rate by over 30 percent.
News Source: nola.com