Thursday, January 6, 2011
America, the second chance nation
From the article: "During the past few decades, America has engaged in a massive experiment in routine imprisonment. From 1975 to 1999, by one estimate, the criminal justice system grew five times more punitive. A nation with 5 percent of the world's population now has about a quarter of the world's prison population - well over 2 million people."
And this is criminogenic, meaning it actually creates crime!
Not in the short term, because mass imprisonment actually made crime go down in the 1990s.
"... But other consequences were unintended - the growth in single-parent households, in the number of children with one or both parents in prison, in the universality of the incarceration among some groups, particularly poorly educated African American and Hispanic men. The incarceration rate for African American male high school dropouts is nearly 50 times the national average. And the inevitable result of mass imprisonment is mass return. About 700,000 former inmates come back to communities each year with considerably dimmer prospects than Michael Vick."
One of our most defended social policies--mass imprisonment--fails (and is an enormous drain on our economy). About half of the people locked up are in for nonviolent street crimes.
Yet, we focus on people like Michael Vick (who ruthlessly tortured and killed animals) rather than our fellow human beings locked up mostly for trivial nonsense.