Mass incarceration is a human rights issue. How did the Land of the Free become the world’s leading producer of prison inmates?
The growing population of our neighbors who are branded criminals for life have lost the chance for a better tomorrow. They’ve become trapped in a downward spiral that places further strain on many of our most troubled neighborhoods.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world followed by Russia and Rwanda. Over 7,000,000 Americans are under correctional supervision (jail, prison, or probation). Housing just one incarcerated person costs the American taxpayers $33,000 per year. This is money that would be put to far better use addressing many of the most pressing issues of our time.
Many laws disproportionately impact minorities, making this injustice a civil rights issue. Our prisons do not rehabilitate effectively or train prisoners properly for reentry into the private sector workforce. And once incarcerated individuals are released, our criminal justice system brands them for life, creating a permanent American underclass. Many are unable to find stable work and productively contribute to society again due to their brand as criminals. We need a new approach.
Here’s what we should do:
- Decriminalize marijuana
- Stop Federal spending that subsidizes and encourages mass incarceration
- Pass spending bills that incentivise States to rehabilitate and educate incarcerated individuals, including national standards for rehabilitation.
- Get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenders
- Reform a bail system that traps people in jail based on their economic circumstances
- Create new programs to retrain prisoners for the 21st century workforce