There’s just something about election years that never bodes well for those working to reform our nation’s criminal justice system. Politicians realize that the tried and true rhetoric of “lock ‘em up” and “do the crime, serve the time” plays well on the campaign trail – never mind the fact that these policies do painfully little to reduce crime or make our communities safer.
Today, the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee is charting a different course on the issue of gangs and youth violence. Rather than taking the easy out of more “get tough” rhetoric, the committee will be exploring an alternative approach, one rooted in prevention and intervention strategies to help stem the tide of youth violence before more crimes are committed and victims created. Only in the U.S. Congress could such an approach be considered novel or unique!
The main witness at today’s hearing will be Professor Charles Ogletree, Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University. He will be highlighting the institute’s recent report – No More Children Left Behind Bars – which lays out a compelling case for more investments in prevention rather than the old, failed policies of the past.
Be sure to check out the ACLU’s letter to Congress in support the Youth PROMISE Act, a proactive, prevention-based approach to gangs and youth violence reduction, which will not only help to break the school-to-prison pipeline and our record-setting rates of incarceration, but will actually make our communities safer for everyone.
Could this be the wave of the future? Only time will tell…