There are many things that can be improved in the criminal justice system in this country. Many problems are within the prison system itself, which is difficult for some to understand since they might not have first-hand experience. Criminal justice system reform is complex, but making a difference is possible.

Two major issues need to be addressed quickly. In the criminal justice system, there is a problem with poor individuals being more likely to be stuck in the system. In addition,  health care is a major issue for those caught in the system.

Poverty and the criminal justice system

People who live in poverty might have to rely on public defenders, who are overworked and often rushing through cases. This puts defendants at a disadvantage since these attorneys might not have adequate time to devote to each case.

Poverty in the criminal justice system doesn’t end with the criminal case. If the person is sent to prison, it can impact the entire family, especially if the person is an income earner. Not having that person to bring in money can lead to the entire family suffering. When the person gets out, they might turn to fast money options, which are often illegal. This brings them back into the criminal justice system.

Issues in the prison system

The prison system requires inmates to pay for many things while they are incarcerated, even though they can’t work. They can’t speak to loved ones on the phone without having someone provide them with money to do so. Health care is also costly. While many prisons will provide emergency care for inmates, some aspects of care will cost the inmates money.

The prison environment isn’t conducive to healthy living and many prisoners come into the system with health conditions. Factors like close proximity to other prisoners and lax sanitation can lead to illnesses spreading quickly.

Poor nutrition and high rates of infectious diseases are also common. Around 70 percent of prisoners have a substance abuse problem. Around half of all people who are incarcerated have a mental health condition that’s been diagnosed.

Many prisons operate on the premise that they need to spend as little as possible on inmate care, so they only meet the bare minimum requirements. They often won’t address the basic needs of the inmates.

If you are facing criminal charges, explore all the legal options you have. Trying to minimize the amount of time you will spend in prison should be a basic component of your defense.