Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is the highest it’s ever been in U.S. history. And yet, our criminal justice system has failed on every count: public safety, fairness and cost-effectiveness. Across the country, the criminal justice reform conversation is heating up. Each week, we feature our some of the most exciting and relevant news in overincarceration discourse that we’ve spotted from the previous week. Check back weekly for our top picks.
A juvenile justice system that's adrift
The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is without a leader, leaving the states to fend for themselves. This editorial calls for President Obama to help our troubled juvenile justice system by nominating an administrator to lead the office.
Alabama weighs 'truth in sentencing' for convicted felons
The Alabama Sentencing Commission is toying with the idea of establishing firmer rules determining the length of sentences for the next legislative session. Though “truth-in-sentencing” laws in other states have proved massively expensive and lead to overcrowding of prisons, lawmakers in Alabama believe victims should know with greater certainty how long defendants will spend behind bars.
Inmate hunger strike expands to more California prisons
Last week, prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison began a hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions of their imprisonment. They have since been joined in solidarity by prisoners in 10 other California prisons.
Missouri reviews sentencing practices to find savings
Following the lead of several other states, Missouri state officials have partnered with the Pew Center on the States to look into a data-based analysis of the state’s troubled criminal justice system.
Oregon taxpayers will spend $1.3 billion on prisons — and it won't be enough
Though Oregon’s Department of Corrections says it’s working with a tighter-than-average budget for 2011-2013, the $1.3 billion set aside for corrections will still eat up a dime of every general fund dollar spent on state government.