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Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

Rebecca McCray,
Former Managing Editor,
American Civil Liberties Union
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July 29, 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.

The Inhumanity of Solitary Confinement
David Fathi of the ACLU’s National Prison Project discusses the inhumanity of solitary confinement across our country in light of the California prisoners’ hunger strike.

As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Are Ensnared
The reach of our country’s criminal laws continues to grow, federally criminalizing a vast and number of activities, many of which seem shockingly benign.

Indiana: State urged to legalize marijuana
Decriminalizing marijuana in Indiana could save the state up to $200 million a year in reduced police, court and prison expenses, according to economic impact estimates reviewed by a legislative committee this week.

New York: Sensible and Humane
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie finally implemented a program permitting several alternative treatment centers to provide medical marijuana for some chronically ill New Jersey citizens. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo has resisted following suit, and this editorial urges him to do so.

Norway: Plush and unusual punishment
This article contrasts Norwegian and American justice and prison systems, arguing that Americans who are horrified by Ander Behring Breivik’s seemingly brief sentence in an all too humane facility ought to pause and examine Norway’s “enviable level of civil peaceand order.”

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