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Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

Rebecca McCray,
Former Managing Editor,
American Civil Liberties Union
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November 18, 2011

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.

New Orleans To Give Early Parole to Low-Risk Offenders
With the highest incarceration rate in the United States, Louisiana had no choice but to make some changes to its criminal justice system. Recently, lawmakers passed a bill that will make some offenders eligible for parole earlier in their sentences.

Editorial: A Blue-Ribbon Indictment
This editorial addresses the United States Sentencing Commission’s report on federal mandatory minimum sentencing, calling for Congress to rescind all such sentences. The report highlighted the severity, inconsistency, and racial disparity found in mandatory minimum sentencing.

Study: Black, Asian kids less likely to abuse drugs
According to a new study, drug abuse is more prevalent among white youth than African-American or Asian adolescents. These findings from Duke University call into question the trends of racial disparity found in drug arrests, and challenge the commonly held misconceptions that some use to support such trends.

New Hampshire: Low crime rate, but high rate for incarcerating minorities
New Hampshire boasts admirably low rates of some kinds of violent and property crimes, but that’s only one side of the coin. Unfortunately, the state still incarcerates a disproportionate number of Hispanics and African-Americans, according to the Sentencing Project.

Jailed at 13: Missouri juvenile spent more than two years in adult jails
What is it like to be locked up with adults as a child? One formerly incarcerated young man shares his story here.

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