It Starts With You: 3 Things You Can Do To Help Facilitate Prison Reform

Drive by any US prison and you'll hear the sounds of forgotten men and women. These men and women are in prison for anything from minor drug offenses to more serious offenses such as rape and murder. According to research, half the world's prison population is held in the United States, Russia, and China. When it comes to the actual number of prison inmates, the United States is number one, with more than 2 million people being incarcerated in state or federal prisons.

Not all these prisoners are treated humanely. In fact, many of them are not. At Pelican Bay Prison in California, inmates have been staging hunger strikes to protest the inhumane treatment they receive, including extended periods of time in isolation. Prison reform organizations are actively trying to change the way prisoners are treated in the United States. Working with professional lawyers, reform organizations help ordinary citizens work to facilitate change. Here are three ways that you can get involved in the change.

Educate Yourself

If you're not familiar with the current condition of the United States prison system, you need educate yourself. Privatization of the prison system, and the "get tough on crime" initiatives of the past have led to a mass incarceration of millions of people. The results have been prison overpopulation and increased abuse against inmates. The best way for you to help facilitate prison reform is to learn about the problems facing the men and women who are behind bars.

Reach Out

Once you've educated yourself about the conditions US prisoners live under, you'll need to reach out to those inmates. Real reform begins when ordinary citizens put names and faces to the men and women behind bars. The easiest way to reach out to inmates is to become a pen pal. Most state and federal prisons have lists of inmates who are actively seeking a pen pal on the outside.

Many prisoners have no friends or family to communicate with. Becoming a pen pal will give these prisoners the opportunity to reach out to someone on the outside. It will also give you the opportunity to ask important questions regarding the current conditions inside the prison. This communication can arm you with the information you'll need to help bring on much-needed reforms.

Get Vocal

Armed with the information you receive from educating yourself, and reaching out, it will be time to get vocal. Become an active participant in prison reform, such as with articleIII, by writing letters to your state legislators, or join anti-privatization organizations to help stop the for-profit prisons that are popping up across the United States.

The US prison system is in dire need of reform. Become a facilitator of change by utilizing the information provided here.