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This thesis explores the U.S. correctional system in order to determine its most serious problems and call for a change in policy in order to eliminate the injustices within the system. Prisons are not benefiting inmates, correctional officers, or society. The goal of rehabilitation of inmates is a failed one. Inmates are destroyed in prison; they lose connection with the outside world, they suffer from the harsh realities of prison life, and they return to society worse off than when they entered prison. Current prisons are degrading the inmates through its dismal atmosphere, its extreme violence, and its culture. Society does not benefit from the prison system because, although offenders are off the streets while incarcerated, ninety-five percent of U.S. inmates return to the streets and they return as unproductive and sometimes dangerous citizens. Prisons are not efficient economically. Money would be better used in a way to rehabilitate offenders in order to reduce recidivism rates. A change in policy needs to take place in order to provide justice to nonviolent offenders by removing them from the prison system and instead focusing on alternative sentencing options that will truly benefit and rehabilitate them. The sentencing structure, the correctional system, and the reentry process are all in dire need of serious changes to help benefit society as a whole. There is a critical problem in the operation and use of our country’s correctional institutions. In order to rehabilitate nonviolent offenders into productive citizens, eliminate the injustices within the correctional system, facilitate the reintegration process, and use time and money effectively and efficiently, it is necessary to make a change in policy, withdraw nonviolent offenders from the U.S. prison system and instead utilize alternative sentencing.


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