For a person arrested and charged with a suspected crime or multiple crimes, the fear of being put in a jail or prison is real. This may happen regardless of whether or not the defendant is convicted as many people must spend time in jail or prison while they await trial.
Even though a defendant is supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty per the criminal justice system, the realities of today’s jails and prisons may not always reflect this.
Overcrowding in New York jails and prisons
Data from the Prison Policy Initiative indicates that in 2018, an estimated 230,000 individuals were part of the criminal justice system in New York State. About 11,000 of those people were in federal prisons while another 27,000 were in municipal or county jails and roughly 50,000 people were in state prisons. Other people were participating in parole or probation programs.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the situation in New York reflects that in other states where the majority of inmates are housed in state or local jails and prisons versus in federal facilities.
Prison and jail populations
Starting in the late 1970s, populations in New York’s jails and prisons began growing. Jail populations peaked in roughly the early 90s while prison populations peaked in the late 90s. The overall populations declined by 2018 but remain notably higher than in the late 70s and more on par with populations seen in the late 1980s.
Problems in correctional facilities
Among the issues faced by inmates in correctional facilities are those posed by management problems, high turnover rate of staff and communication breakdowns.