As a social work student at the University of North Texas, I am concerned about the persistent use of prison and jail as rehabilitation in Texas.
Due to the three-strike law, the U.S prison population has grown by over 1.5 million in 30 years. Texas, with a prison population of more than 142,000, is spending $80 billion dollars a year to house inmates.
According to probationers and officers at prisons, 49 percent of inmates are mentally ill and 46 percent of other inmates have reported drug or alcohol abuse at the time of arrest.
I believe that most inmates are in prison due to the environment they grew up in. The crimes the inmates commit and the addictions they have are symptoms of the trauma (neglect or abuse) they experienced as children.
Unfortunately, about 70 percent of the Texas prison population is made up of Latinos and African-Americans. So, the disproportionate representation of minorities in prison perpetuates the cradle-to-prison pipeline that many Latino and African-American children experience.
All prisons should include job training, mental health professionals onsite, parenting classes, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.