Throughout the past few years, criminal justice reform has become an increasingly popular topic among the public. No criminal justice system is entirely perfect, but there are some core principles related to human dignity that no justice system should violate. Recently, the public has started to become aware of the ways they can advocate on behalf of these issues. Criminal justice reform has grown in its importance and is arguably one of the most critical issues facing the nation today.

Prison Overcrowding
Statistics show that the American criminal justice system holds roughly 2.3 million individuals in incarceration, with another five million on parole or probation. When compared to the nation’s population, it shows that one in every 31 adults will wind up in jail. When put in this light, it is shocking to realize just how common prison time can be for the population, especially when compared to other nations. 

While it can be said that criminal activity shouldn’t be running rampant, it should also be recognized that American prisons were not designed to hold this overwhelming number of individuals. A lot of this overcrowding is also due to nonviolent offenders being handed extreme sentences, being sent off to jail as a result. This is something to be aware of, especially as individuals forced into prison may not feel their voice has been heard. Each individual life matters, and when justice systems disregard the negative effects prison overcrowding can have on an individual’s mental and physical health, they demonstrate a disregard for the dignity of each human life. 

Racism in the System
Even with the uproar of social movements and racial advocacy, racism is still in full effect in prison systems. The statistics are overwhelming when researching the demographics of prisons. African Americans and Hispanics make up a large majority of the prison population, even though their percentage of the American population lacks in comparison to Caucasians. A lot of this unfair sentencing has stemmed from systemic racism in the United States. This shows evidence of lingering racism in the criminal justice system, which is a cause that individuals have been making more well-known in years past. 

Wrongful Convictions
Unfortunately, though we would all love to believe that every conviction is true and has been investigated thoroughly, there are still wrongful convictions that slip through the cracks. There are currently individuals in prison serving time for a crime they never committed, serving time that they will never get back. The criminal justice system still lacks accountability at times and has allowed things like faulty testimonies to affect someone’s sentencing. Far too many lives have been affected by this issue, calling for a great need for criminal justice reform.

When you dig more closely into the many ways the criminal justice system could use improvement, you will uncover many hidden issues. It is important to campaign for these issues and make them known to the public, especially as they tend to affect marginalized communities more deeply. The sooner these issues are addressed, the closer the nation will come to achieving true justice. 

There are a number of ways that you can help increase awareness of the significance of criminal justice reform. I would encourage you to further educate yourself on why our criminal justice system needs to be reformed and what you can do as an individual to help.