Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

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.

ACLU releases report detailing jail overcrowding in California
The ACLU and the ACLU of Southern California released a report last week detailing a pattern of severe and pervasive abuse of inmates in Los Angeles County jails. California’s severely bloated prison system has contributed to such inhumane conditions, which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional earlier this year. As California’s counties attempt to implement the state’s solution to the overcrowding – the “realignment” plan moving certain inmates to county jails - the ACLU continues to closely monitor incarceration conditions and assist counties in implementing the new law.

ACLU Overincarceration Campaign highlighted in the media
The New York Times covered the growing movement in states across the country to reduce prison populations and the ACLU’s campaign. A Reuters piece also covered the benefits of reforms to end overincarceration. Both articles mentioned our Smart Reform is Possible report, released in August.

New York Times highlights the dangers of prosecutorial leverage
Last week’s Times article exposed only the tip of the iceberg of our dysfunctional criminal justice system. ACLU Policy Counsel Inimai Chettiar wrote for the American Constitution Society detailing additional factors contributing to mass incarceration, including excessive use of pre-trial detention and underfunded indigent defense systems.

The execution of Troy Davis
September marked a tragic and shameful moment in United States history when the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, a man about whose guilt millions around the world and at home still have grave doubts.

  • Read a New York Times article discussing the death penalty in the wake of Davis’ execution and quoting Denny LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project.
  • Read a blog by ACLU Policy Counsel Tanya Greene on the night of Davis execution as well as our other blogs on the topic.
  • As part of our longstanding campaign to end the death penalty, we have launched an interactive map highlighting state-specific actions to abolish the death penalty.

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