“More than 1.5 million people are now in U.S. state and federal prisons, up from 196,429 in 1970, the report said. Another 750,000 people are in local jails. The U.S. incarceration rate is the world’s highest, followed by Russia, according to 2006 figures compiled by Kings College in London.”
U.S. prison system a costly and harmful failure: report
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.
The report on Monday cites examples ranging from former vice-presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby to a Florida woman’s two-year sentence for throwing a cup of coffee to make its case for reducing the U.S. prison population of 2.2 million — nearly one-fourth of the world’s total.
It recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs. It said the steps would cut the prison population in half, save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public.
But the recommendations run counter to decades of broad U.S. public and political support for getting tough on criminals through longer, harsher prison terms and to the Bush administration’s anti-drug and strict-sentencing policies.
Richard Nixon left us a legacy all right, from his personal piracy of the Constitution to the “War on Drugs,” an excuse to root out the causes of poverty by imprisoning the poor.
The report cites that one-third (33%) of all black males, one-sixth (17%) of Latino males, and one in 17 (6%) white males will go to prison during their lives. How is it possible to segregate five times as many blacks and three times as many Latinos into prison populations and not call it blatant racism?
We are sweeping the streets of the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged in a war we declared on drugs that is being fought almost entirely against the American poor.
Not since Charles Dickens’ England have such incredible abuses been done against a single class.The cup of iniquity is full, the grapes of wrath ripe and our historic vintage is exactly opposite to the promise of America that men are equal and opportunity sees no barriers of color or station.