This article from Slate.com is a worthwhile read as it addresses an issue that needs major attention. I don’t agree 100% with all of this but this country needs to begin a serious discussion of reform in our criminal justice system.
The United States has a prison population like nowhere else. With one out of every 100 adults behind bars, our incarceration rate is the highest in the entire world. Our inmates—1.5 million in prison, with another 800,000 in jail—comprise one-third of the world’s total. This is a surprisingly recent development. After barely budging for 50 years, our incarceration rate increased sevenfold (to 738 per 100,000 people) between 1978 and 2008.
The system is now at its breaking point. Federal judges in California just issued a tentative order demanding that the state release nearly 60,000 inmates over the next three years to alleviate intolerable overcrowding. New York state’s sentencing commission released a 326-page report calling on the Legislature to cut back on severe drug sentences. And with budgets growing ever-tighter in a collapsing economy, states are beginning to realize that large prison populations are boom-time luxuries they can no longer afford.
Reform is inevitable.