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Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

Rebecca McCray,
Former Managing Editor,
American Civil Liberties Union
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March 22, 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.

“Historic Opportunity” For Inmate Re-Entry
It’s hard to shed a positive light on the economic crisis, but James Burch, director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, points out that this is a “historic opportunity” to make great strides in reentry services for released prisoners.

Ohio: Do the crime, pay more than time
Desperate economic times call for desperate measures — especially in Ohio prisons, where the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will attempt to cut $30 million from its budget by privatizing at least five facilities and charging prisoners $1 a month for electricity in their cells.

Editorial: In Post Racial America Prisons Feast on Black Girls
The incarceration rate of African-American girls and young women exceeds that of any other demographic, and the pace at which our juvenile justice system ensnares these young women is only quickening. This month, the University of California’s Boalt Hall School of Law hosted a symposium and call for action.

New York: Taxpayers Spent $75 Million On Tiny Marijuana Busts In 2010
Yes, you read that correctly — in the midst of an economic crisis, New York is spending an obscene amount of its budget to charge and lock up people who possess minor quantities of marijuana. The Drug Policy Alliance has released a report examining the details.

Texas: Senate passes criminal lineup bill
In an effort to reduce the number of wrongful convictions in the state that leads in DNA evidence-based exonerations, the Texas Senate passed a bill last week that would require police to implement written policies for conducting criminal suspect lineups.

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