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Open Mind

Uncovering the Importance of Understanding the US Prison System

The United States prison system has a long and complex history that has led to the current state of mass incarceration. The system has undergone significant changes over the years, driven by a variety of factors including political, economic, and social forces. The US prison population has grown exponentially since the 1970s, driven in part by the war on drugs and tough-on-crime policies. This has led to the US having the highest incarceration rate in the world, with over 2.3 million people in prison as of 2021.

The US prison system has been widely criticized for being overcrowded, underfunded, and inhumane. The system has been criticized for its focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation, which has led to high recidivism rates. Additionally, the system has been criticized for its racial disparities, with Black and Hispanic individuals disproportionately represented among the incarcerated population. The racial disparities in the American prison system are notable, and it has been argued that they are a result of systemic racism and bias in the criminal justice system.

The current state of the prison system has led to calls for reform. Proponents of reform argue that the current system is expensive, ineffective, and unjust. They argue that instead of relying on punishment and incarceration, the system should focus on rehabilitation and providing support for individuals returning to society. There have been a number of proposals for reform, including reducing mandatory minimum sentences, providing more funding for education and job training programs, and reducing the number of people incarcerated for non-violent offenses.

Supporting organizations that work to reduce recidivism is also crucial in making overall change in the prison system. Here at Open Kitchen, we strongly believe that reducing recidivism is the most important aspect of making overall change in the prison system. By providing education and job training programs for individuals returning from prison, and providing support for their families, these organizations aim to break the cycle of recidivism and help individuals successfully re-enter society. This not only benefits the individual but also the society as a whole by reducing the number of people in prison, and the cost associated with it.

Image by Milad Fakurian

What is Recidivism?

Recidivism is the act of a person committing a new crime after being released from prison or other form of punishment. It is often used as a measure of the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs and as a way to gauge the likelihood of an offender committing future crimes. Recidivism is generally defined as a return to prison within a certain period of time, such as within one or three years of release, but can also be measured by rearrest or re-conviction.

America's Prison System

2.3 Million

Americans that are currently in prison

12 people

Die every single day in prison


The percentage of the world's prisoners in America

2.7 Million

Children who currently have or had a parent in prison


The cost of incarcertation per year, per inmate


The recividism rate within five years of being released from prison

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How can you make an impact?

Donations play a crucial role in the success of our programs. They allow us to provide essential resources and support to the individuals we serve. Without the generosity of donors, we would not be able to provide the necessary training, education, and support services that are vital to the rehabilitation and reintegration of vulnerable youth and survivors

J O I N  U S

Joining our community is an important way to support vulnerable individuals and families, and prevent adverse situations. Your support will empower individuals and families to take preventative actions and ensure a brighter future for everyone involved.

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