The real meaning of imprisonment is not achieved since prisons become places of dehumanizing the prisoners unnecessarily, rather than serving as correction centers. Overcrowding results in undesirable situations such as prisoner strikes, epidemics, death, prison breaks amongst other things. Such situations are usually overwhelming to the prison administrations, and usually attract undue disapproval from human rights organizations (Cox et al 1984 p. 1149). This paper is a discussion and a critical evaluation of reforms that can reduce prison overcrowding.
There are several factors that contribute to prison overcrowding. The laws of many countries require that suspects be kept in remand awaiting conviction. The number of crimes punishable by imprisonment is high, including some which fines can be an effective alternative. With the current rate of population increase, there is a possibility of a continuous rise in crime. This means that prisons will be receiving inmates from time to time, creating the possibility of an increase in overcrowding within prisons.
The behavior of prisoners is largely affected by overcrowding, mainly tending to lean towards anti-social actions facilitated by idleness and the presence of a large number of people with varied behavior in a small space. There is therefore need for reforms that could reduce prison overcrowding.