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Analysis of the Prison Justice Reform Act

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The Prison Litigation Reform Act is a U.S. federal law that was enacted in 1996. Congress executed this act in response to a significant increase in prisoner litigation in the federal courts. It is just one fix for the inadequacy of our justice system that many states and the federal government have delved into. Reports have shown that for every 100,000 people living in the U.S, about 655 individuals are behind bars. Since 1978, the increase has been around 390%. If we take a look in another recent report, it demonstrated the current strategies used by our justice system to achieve rehabilitation and increased public safety have been very much ineffective, with more than 80% of those leaving our state prisons being rearrested again in the future. Here’s where the prison reform act comes to action. For many decades there have been unnumerous numbers of mass imprisonments in this country that have sent African-Americans and Latinos to prison in significantly disproportionate rates. Furthermore, there are also millions of formerly imprisoned people who are treated like slaves after their release from prison and face a hard time to maintain a normal life, like they are some second-class citizens. Even in modern times events like this still tend to occur because of a loophole in the 13th amendment of the US constitution, more precisely because of the exception clause of this particular amendment. This clause apparently justifies treating the prison inmates as slaves if they have been “duly convicted” of a crime. There is a 2016 documentary by Ava DuVernay named ’13th’ which shines a bright light on this very issue that has been going on in our country. The documentary’s focus is on slavery and to what degree it plays a role in modern times. It shows how slavery never went away and how mass imprisonments are the main reason behind today’s slavery. Prison reform act is supposed to solve this big issue and it supports the movement to eliminate the 13th Amendment exception clause.

Any kind of positive changes regarding prison reform can usually be accomplished through two categories. Number one is establishing programs that will help individuals to gain knowledge, skills, job training, and positive values during their period of imprisonment. Secondly, modifying disciplinary policies which will ensure that minimal boundaries are there to maintain positive community affiliations during the period of confinement. So in other words, if the inmates get proper opportunities to achieve some particular beneficial skills and use them to enhance their positive relationships, we will be able to help them carry out their full potential and in the long run, they will get the chance to transform their lives and eventually return to our communities.

However, prison reform comes with some handfull of challenges. First of all, one huge debate regarding prison reform is whether it is resulted in reducing the number of people who are rearrested. Usually, after being released from prison, people who were imprisoned face a large number of barriers when they make an attempt to return to their communities and or try to do something with their life. Along with the societal stigma these people face, there are more than 48,000 legal barriers that prevent them from securing employment, housing, occupational licenses, and many of the essential things that are necessary to be a productive member of any community. Some reports that came to light recently shows that even after a whole year, 74% of men released from prison are still searching for employment. Just like that, many of these complications create a threat to public safety and prevent those people with a criminal background from achieving a better future. Moreover, the reforms proposed in the First Step Act will affect only the federal prison system, which houses just 181,000 of the approximately 2.1 million total incarcerated population including state prisons and jails.

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Gene Sharp was the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution who put together 198 methods of nonviolent action. These are the steps that people are advised to use in their campaigns. The whole point of this list is to implement nonviolent methods whenever a movement is needed to be formed. We just have to be careful and precise when we identify the needs and goals of our target audience as well as our opponent. In many cases, it has been seen that people who are not aware of the effectiveness of nonviolent actions always tend to be struggling for democratic rights and justice. A campaign’s chances of success depend on three main points; wise strategy, attention to the dynamics of nonviolent struggle, and thoughtful selection of methods.

Now if we look into modern times, the impact of nonviolent methods on any kind of activism has been more crucial. This is one of the most compelling and influential times to live in; whenever we want to send a message or try to express ourselves, it can be done in a very short time, to be precise in a matter of minutes. A single video can span the globe in a matter of days, blessings of present-day internet. And these kinds of nonviolent actions can really make the ultimate difference in a movement. It’s true that every so often, we become so overwhelmed with the internet, mainly because of the constant violations of privacy and the filtering of information but the fact is if we can do it right by implementing the right plan, we will be able to influence millions with a simple nonviolent act. This was just an example. Similar to this, a large number of additional methods have already been used but yet to be classified. Not only that, it is fair to assume that in the future more additional methods will be invented accommodating the characteristics of the three classes of methods: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention.

Now, regarding nonviolent civil disobedience, we have to realize that considerable effectiveness is achievable when individual methods to be used are chosen to implement the previously adopted strategy. It is necessary to know what kind of pressure we should be using before we choose the precise forms of action that will best apply those pressures.

Today, the list of undemocratic governments forced out by ‘people power’ mutinies are so far-reaching that conventional knowledge about nonviolent conflict may well have reversed: one might argue that nonviolent action can be effective in challenging autocracies but holds little value in places where disagreement can be channeled through lobbying and electoral politics. The burden is now for activists to show how the same types of tactics can be used in any kind of nonviolent movement.

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Analysis of the Prison Justice Reform Act. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from
“Analysis of the Prison Justice Reform Act.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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Analysis of the Prison Justice Reform Act [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2022 Nov 26]. Available from:
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