Blog Commentary-(ENEWSPF)- The NAACP sent out a Tweet yesterday about US prisoners that really caught my eye:
— NAACP (@NAACP) December 15, 2016
eNews Park Forest follows the NAACP, and, as of today, the NAACP now follows eNews Park Forest.
And, yes, I am (still) a paying lifetime member of the NAACP.
For full disclosure.
And, no, I am not running for office.
Some day, I’ll pay off that membership so I can actually be a lifetime member.
But, not yet.
Toward our discussion for today, here’s the report you want to read (PDF).
The title of the report? How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?
It’s so easy for some of us who’ve never had a brush with the law to simply say, “Well, they shouldn’t have gotten arrested in the first place.”
And, face it, it’s so easy for us white people to talk about “them.”
Who are “they,” exactly?
They are 2.2 million male inmates as of 2014 (DOJ).
And, before we all go anti-NAACP and talk about how that organization only cares about people of color, consider these facts:
|Race/Ethnicity||% of US population||% of U.S.
|National incarceration rate
|White (non-Hispanic)||64%||39%||450 per 100,000|
|Hispanic||16%||19%||831 per 100,000|
|Black||13%||40%||2,306 per 100,000|
That’s right, based on these statistics, “Nationally, according to the U.S. Census, Blacks are incarcerated five times more than Whites are, and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to be incarcerated as Whites.”
The fact is (and I’m aware the President-elect’s spokesperson said facts don’t matter any more) — but, hey, we can count — and the fact is the United States locks up people at a higher rate than any other country in the world.
White or Black or Hispanic or Other.
Consider this, from two very different thinkers:
“It’s a stark fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago despite the fact that crime is at historic lows.”
–Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), speech on criminal justice at Columbia University, April 29, 2015
“Though only 5 percent of the world’s population lives in the United States, it is home to 25 percent of the world’s prison population. … Not only does the current overpopulated, underfunded system hurt those incarcerated, it also digs deeper into the pockets of taxpaying Americans.”
–Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), news release on Web site, March 9, 2015
The good ol’ USA has a full 25 percent, twenty-five percent, of the world’s prisoners.
And we’re only 5 percent of the world’s population.
And nearly 40 percent of them could be released tomorrow, with little to no danger to the rest of us.
Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. prison population — 576,000 people — are behind bars with no compelling public safety reason, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. The first-of-its-kind analysis provides a blueprint for how the country can drastically cut its prison population while still keeping crime rates near historic lows.
And that’s the key.
Almost 40 percent of these people — people — are in prison, and they don’t need to be there.
What should we do? We The People?
According to the report:
- Eliminate Prison for Lower-Level Crimes Barring Exceptional Circumstances
- Reduce Sentence Minimums and Maximums by Law
- Retroactively Apply Reforms
- Complementary Recommendations
Please, please, take time to be someone who thinks, not someone who simply reacts.
Don’t depend on me or anyone else to distill the report for you.
And join those of us who have.
Let’s reduce the US prison population today.
Gary Kopycinski is editor and publisher of eNews Park Forest. Follow him on Twitter at @GaryKopycinski and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FrodoJRR, or email him at [email protected]. He served as a village trustee in Park Forest from 2003-2006, and then again from 2007-2015. eNews Park Forest, Inc. is an independent media company and is not affiliated with the Village of Park Forest in any way.
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