In my research, I analyzed the costs of the United States’ current prison system. The issues I focused on were mass incarceration, high recidivism rates, racial bias, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Throughout the nation, thousands are being placed into prison cells with no hope for their future. With no financial safety net, many slip into poverty after being released. This only increases the problem, as they are then more likely to commit crimes. I examined the current data on all topics,
finding the costs of current practices and the benefits of changing such practices. The United States has the largest incarceration rates in the world, and since 1980 incarceration rates have quadrupled. Racial bias also leads young black students to be unfairly treated by the school system, as they are disproportionately suspended at a higher rate than white student. This can lead to a road of future crime, as students who are suspended are more likely to drop out than those who have never been suspended.
In my research, I examined possible solutions to these problems. First, decriminalizing drugs and offering treatment instead could reduce the national population in prisons and jails, as well as get more people help. I found that we are spending billions of dollars a year for a largely ineffective system. Funding specialized school programs instead of
relying on suspending students has shown to be a more effective method of
teaching students to behave. I also mentioned Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs policy, which has seen great success in the nation. They were able to dramatically decrease the amount of drug-related deaths as well as increase treatment. I mentioned Norway’s incredible prisons, one of which has large televisions and large glass windows in the rooms. Norway has the lowest rates of recidivism in the world, so I researched how effective these prisons are.
My mentor was very helpful in providing me resources to look at, as well as answering any questions regarding the writing and formatting of the project. She was very knowledgeable in this area of study and was able to correct me and guide me.
Overall, this experience has been really interesting and would like to do research again in the future. In the future, I would like to be able to create policies that would bring economic prosperity for a lot of people. At the end of the day, those who are incarcerated are still people. We should be doing everything we can to rehabilitate them and bring back healthy people back into society.