Moral Panics for the Current Mass Imprisonment in the United States

The positive change in the prison statistics in the state of New York is attributed to the changes and reforms in the law enforcement policies of the state. The state has led reforms and innovations particularly in regard to the reformatory characteristic of its incarceration policy and its introduction of the modern parole. Reform was forced out of the policymakers because in the first half of the 1990s, tightening revenues threaten the budget of correctional facilities and that the state correction facilities were then already overcrowded and still more prisoners are awaiting assignments. And so, one of the first acts as governor of the former Governor George Pataki was to loosen laws on minor repeat offenders in order to help decrease prison population and help ease the pressure on the correction system. (Clear, Cole and Reisig 15) Then the state legislature amended and relaxed the so-called Rockefeller Drug Laws, which made New York one of the strictest states when it came to policing drug offenders. Indeed, starting the latter half of the 1990s onwards, the prison commitments steadily dropped prompting the state to close some prison facilities and save millions of taxpayers’ money. The New York experience highlighted the requirement of effective prison policy – one that is characterized by a set of graduated options that can be tailored to specific situations. This led New York policymakers and criminal justice planners to one of its new policies – the use of a variety of alternative sentencing mechanisms, which include: residential community corrections. community service and alternatives to corrections. and, probation.