As we all know, our prisons are extremely overcrowded. It is not just our prisons either; our entire criminal justice system is bursting at the seams. Court cases are constantly being delayed, states attorneys and public defenders are always bogged down, and with this many people in the system it is no surprise that our prisons are overflowing.
According to the Department of Corrections the prison population in Illinois has risen from 7,326 in 1970 to 48,620 when data was last released. There have been a few main reasons why our system has become so overcrowded. One of the biggest reasons for prison population increase is the War on Drugs that was implemented. Since 1993 drug offenders in the system have grown at an amazing rate of 57.2%. The female population has also had quite an impact. It has grown tremendously at 49.3% over the past ten years. There has also been a gradual rise of violent offenders coming into the system and since they are incarcerated longer they have played a role in the overcrowding.
This issue is not one that is going to be solved overnight, but something has to be done about this. We need new plans and innovations from our government to fix this ever increasing problem. There has to be some sort of answer out there to alleviate some of these pressures on the system.