The current corrections system is ineffective and harming those who are convicted, as well as tax payers who pay for it. Sentencing policies need to change. It is important to look at racial disparities, drug policies, sentencing lengths, as well as what charges include prison time. America needs to aspire to a fair and effective criminal justice system, as well as provide alternatives to incarceration.
Providing programs and better education to youth in high crime areas would also in turn, reduce prison populations. Supporting after-school programs and providing opportunities to things like higher education to individuals with low-socioeconomic status would have a profound effect.
Youth's who do commit crimes should not be sentenced the same as adults. Although a juvenile system does exist, many times the individual is tried as an adult if the crime is deemed serious enough. Juvenile's brains are under developed and individuals should not be held to the same standards as adults, and should never be sentenced as such.
Providing treatment to addicts instead of sentencing them to incarceration would benefit society as a whole as well. Prison's and Jails are NOT treatment centers. Individuals with chemical dependencies need treatment. An addict is likely to reoffend if they leave prison still an addict.