As a consequence of the “drug war” that began in the 1980s, the U.S. prison population has skyrocketed and, despite dramatic increases in corrections spending, many prisons are now grossly overcrowded.  This issue rose to the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court which has ruled that California must release or relocate more than 33,000 prisoners because prisons are so crowded as to amount to cruel and unusual punishment (source).

A recent issue of Mother Jones included a frightening exposé of the overcrowding in these prisons.  Below are some highlights from the slideshow.

Mule Creek Prison, 108 percent over capacity. “As many as 54 prisoners may share a single toilet.”

A gym converted into a dorm:

California State Prison, “It currently holds 4,275 inmates; it is designed to hold 2,300.”

California Institution for Men. “It currently holds nearly 5,600 inmates and is 97.5 percent over capacity.”

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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