In America, prison reform is a significant growing issue. The prison population is expanding at a phenomenal rate, exceeding the capacity of the system to accommodate the inhabitants of the incarcerated. The focus is increasingly on rehabilitation as a means to reduce recidivism or prisoner relapse to crime. Prison in the United States is utilized more than any other nation, and the economy suffers financially from the extremely high costs. Prisons are expensive to build, maintain, and operate. However, addressing the issues are also extremely expensive but can be considered an investment for the future safety of the community, creating a healthier, higher educated, less drug-dependent, more available form of the prisoner who has a better chance of staying out of prison. .
The American corrections system in the previous decades has become a severe problem for the US economy. According to Krisberg and others, "The general US population grew by 37% from 1987 to 2009, and the prison population increased by 371% - 10 times as much" (7). The cost of prisons in 1987 was $12 billion and astronomically rose in 2009 to $52.3 billion. However, the price has not stopped growing since, and the total cost of the justice system in 2015 is estimated to be $261 billion dollars (Krisberg 7). The level of expenses per prisoner varies widely from state to state, especially given the range in the cost of living among states. However, the average cost per inmate in 2005 was $24,000 (Krisberg 123). One of the main contributors to prison costs besides staff is health care for inmates. Krisberg also goes on to state "A large amount of money from prisons goes to older inmates who average $70,000, almost three times the general average" (123). As prison populations' age and individual prisoners get sick, states have an increasing burden to cover prisoners' medical expenses, even though medical care for convicts is both variable and problematic.