The traditional, reforming role of imprisonment is being increasingly questioned, and the morale of prison staff has suffered as a result. The initial ideal of rehabilitation has fallen prey to all the complexities of the modern crime problem. With the enormous increase in criminal activity, prisons are over-crowded. They are often little more than warehouses of despair where unhealthy and inhumane conditions erupt in violence, rioting and insurrection. With two or three people crowded into the space intended for one, there is little incentive for introspection and reflection. There are other conditions that militate against rehabilitation. For example, the deprivation of personal security, of mobility and of privacy. In some institutions there is never quiet. In others the lights are never turned off. The link with the outside world is often tenuous, with visits limited and correspondence censored, delayed, or sometimes thrown away altogether, according to the inclination of the current administering officials. These seemingly petty matters can cause extreme psychological damage.
2. The criminal justice system has increasingly been used as the main vehicle through which America handles its social problems, a catch-all device which scoops up drug users, the mentally ill, the homeless, and other social "failures", and puts them out of sight and out of mind into the prison system.
3. A criminal on the loose costs society twice as much as a criminal in jail, whether in stolen goods, damaged to property, or the medical care of victims.
2. Despite evidence to the contrary, it remains true that increasing the number of offenders in prison takes such people off the streets where they threaten the security of law-abiding citizens.