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Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

Rebecca McCray,
Managing Editor,
American Civil Liberties Union
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May 25, 2011

Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Withover 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 from the ACLU: Mass Incarceration Resource Page
We are excited to announce the launch of our mass incarceration initiative’s homepage. Stay tuned to this site to follow our work as we strategically address the mass incarceration crisis in our country.

Plata is a Net Benefit to Public Safety and Our Constitutional Rights
Inimai Chettiar of the ACLU weighs in on the importance of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Brown v. Plata, explaining how the opinion is both humane and cost-effective.

Private Prisons Found to Offer Little in Savings
As states scramble for quick ways to mend broken budgets, prison privatization is increasingly a part of the conversation. At first glance, the sale of prisons to private corporations seems like a great way to save some cash, but new data suggests that privately operated prisons may actually cost taxpayers more in the end.

Florida: Considers Changes to Mandatory Sentencing for Drug Crimes
In Senate Bill 1334, the Florida legislature is addressing the long-standing debate about how to appropriately respond to substance abusers. The bill would prioritize rehabilitation for defendants convicted of the sale of controlled substance, rather than responding with a mandatory minimum sentence.

Georgia: Criminal justice reform panel named
House Bill 265 created the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia, a bipartisan group of lawyers, lawmakers and judges that will work together to brainstorm and reform Georgia’s broken and costly criminal justice system.

Texas: Medical expenses could create elderly parolees
As in many states across our country, the staggering costs of medical care for elderly prisoners has piqued the interest of some Texas lawmakers, inspiring discussion of parole options for some of Texas’ oldest inmates.

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