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.
Profits And Punishment: The 99% And The Prison System
What does Occupy Wall Street have to do with our overpopulated and discriminatory prison system? A lot. This piece points out why we can’t discuss economic inequality, police brutality and the 99% without also talking about our prisons.
2 Governors Asking U.S. to Ease Rules on Marijuana to Allow for Its Medical Use
In the ongoing clash between state and federal marijuana regulations, Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island petitioned the federal government this week, requesting that marijuana be reclassified as a drug with acceptable medical uses.
Evanston Decriminalizes Marijuana: Small-Quantity Possession
The Chicago suburb of Evanston recently took a smart step in their 2012 budget, passing an ordinance that will decriminalize the possession of marijuana in small quantities. If caught with 10 grams or less, offenders in Evanston will now face a fine rather than up to 6 months of jail time. These infractions will not appear on criminal records, effectively reducing opportunities for young people to enter into the messy web of the criminal justice system.
NYPD statistics show one student a day is arrested in the city’s public schools, and 93% of them are black or Hispanic
The outrageous racial disparities found in our prison and jail populations and arrest rates are mirrored by this recently released data, which shows that young black or Hispanic men are most likely to be arrested in New York City’s public schools. The New York Civil Liberties Union comments.
Virgin Records CEO Advocates for Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
Richard Branson, the billionaire CEO of Virgin Group, recently spoke out about the importance of second chances and his decision to proactively seek out and hire ex-offenders, encouraging other companies to follow suit. “For people coming out of prison,” Branson said, “it's a vicious circle. If they can't get a job, the only thing they can do is reoffend. From society's point of view that can be very painful.”