Article: Think prison abolition in America is impossible? It once felt inevitable : Guardian by Dubler and Lloyd
Think prison abolition in America is impossible? It once felt inevitable
The Guardian May 19, 2018 by Dubler and Lloyd
In the 1960s and 1970s, attorneys general and Republican congressmen were among the many arguing that prison was immoral. Can those days return?
With amazing speed, ending mass incarceration has become a priority not only for leftists but also for centrists and even for some on the right. Jared Kushner recently classed prisoners with other “forgotten men and women” championed by Donald Trump. But none of the reforms on the table will actually end mass incarceration. Even if tomorrow we release every non-violent drug offender, every ageing prisoner and everyone who is in jail solely because they can’t make their bail – and we should do those things – the United States would still have an incarceration rate an order of magnitude higher than its peer nations.
Have You Ever Seen Someone Be Killed?
The New York Times May 25, 2018 :: Emily Badger
Researchers with the Boston Reentry Study were one year into their interviews, following 122 men and women as they returned from prison to their neighborhoods and families, when they asked the kind of question that’s hard to broach until you know someone well.
They prompted the study’s participants to think back to childhood. “Did you ever see someone get killed during that time?” ...
“The whole ethical foundation of our system of punishment I think is threatened once you take into account the reality of people’s lives,”
For Trump's Evangelical Advisers, Prison Reform Becomes a Front-Burner Issue
NPR :: Sarah McCammon
That idea – that redemption is possible, even in prison – is a central part of the Christian belief system, said Johnnie Moore, an evangelical leader and informal adviser to President Trump who attended the summit. "I'm not sure that for a number of years it was sort of considered a political issue," he said in an interview with NPR. "It was more just an issue of justice."
Moore is among leading evangelicals who are supporting the FIRST STEP Act, which focuses on improving prison conditions for pregnant inmates, and offers a path to possible early release for prisoners who earn credits for good behavior. The plan does not tackle many of the larger goals of criminal justice reform advocates, such as reducing or eliminating mandatory minimums for non-violent drug crimes.
Jesselyn McCurdy of the American Civil Liberties Union said she welcomes evangelical support for prison reform in principle, but worries the push for this legislation could squander an opportunity for more substantial reform. Among other concerns, she said the plan relies too heavily on releasing prisoners into halfway houses, which are underfunded.
Fast Company 12.19.2017
by Diana Budds
Can a prison be humane? In socially progressive Scandinavia, perhaps. The Danish Prison and Probation Service and architecture firm CF Møller have designed what they’re calling the world’s “most humane” maximum security prison.
About 70 miles southeast of Copenhagen, in the town of Gundslev, Storstrøm Prison looks more like a university campus than a typical prison. Both the architecture and social policy at the prison aim to reduce recidivism by emphasizing rehabilitation, an approach that Scandinavian countries employ. ...
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A Different Justice: Why Anders Breivik Only Got 21 Years for Killing 77 People
The Atlantic - By MAX FISHER AUG 24, 2012
Norway's gentler criminal system uses something called "restorative justice," which appears to be potentially better at reducing crime than our own, but at a real cost.
Norway's criminal justice system is, obviously, quite distinct from that of, say, the U.S.; 21 years is the maximum sentence for anything less severe than war crimes or genocide. Still, it's more than that: the entire philosophy underpinning their system is radically different. I don't have an answer for which is better. I doubt anyone does. But Americans' shocked response to the Breivik sentence hints at not just how different the two systems are, but how deeply we may have come to internalize our understanding of justice, which, whatever its merits, doesn't seem to be as universally applied as we might think.
By JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH JAN. 18, 2018
In the eight years since its publication, “The New Jim Crow,” a book by Michelle Alexander that explores the phenomenon of mass incarceration, has sold well over a million copies, been compared to the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, been cited in the legal decisions to end stop-and-frisk and sentencing laws, and been quoted passionately on stage at the Academy Awards.
But for the more than 130,000 adults in prison in North Carolina and Florida, the book is strictly off-limits.
And prisoners around the country often have trouble obtaining copies of the book, which points to the vast racial disparities in sentencing policy, and the way that mass incarceration has ravaged the African-American population.
This month, after protests, New Jersey revoked a ban some of its prisons had placed on the book, while New York quickly scrapped a program that would have limited its inmates’ ability to receive books at all.
Adam Benforado @ the Commonwealth Club - Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice
A child is gunned down by a police officer; an investigator ignores critical clues in a case; an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit; a jury acquits a killer. The evidence is all around us: Our system of justice is fundamentally broken.
But it’s not for the reasons we tend to think, as law professor Adam Benforado argues in this eye-opening, galvanizing book. Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we would still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment. This is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us.
October is Youth Justice Action Month, so let’s take stock of what we’ve learned about our juvenile justice system just this year.
About 50,000 youth are caught in a system that disproportionately imprisons African Americans and Latinos. Some teens, including Dequan Jackson, are kept behind bars not because they are a danger to society but because they cannot afford court fees. Others experience appalling treatment: just last month in Kentucky, staff allegedly stood idly by as a 16-year-old had a seizure and died in custody. Far too often, juvenile offenders are housed in facilities—like Wisconsin’s Lincoln Hills, which is under federal investigation for abuse—that could leave them worse off.
These stories are heartbreaking, but they need not be disheartening. Coupled with awareness of the problems should be awareness of the tremendous progress being made to change the way our juvenile justice system operates. Advocates across the country are hard at work to create more effective, humane alternatives that will help young offenders stay out of the criminal justice system as adults.
The Youth First Initiative wants to help end the use of youth prisons. The justice-advocacy group works from the premise that detaining minors—whether in youth facilities or in prisons—is not just a poorly executed practice; it is simply beyond repair. “This model of incarceration is broken—it does not work,” says Liz Ryan, the president and CEO of the Youth First Initiative. “It actually has never worked.”
One advocate describes what happens in a family when a child is behind bars. Read More
The prison reformer’s dilemma by Asher Klein Spring/17A UChicago alumnus is challenging the conventional wisdom on mass incarceration.
"At the end of 2015, almost 2.2 million people were incarcerated in American prisons and jails, surpassing the population of New Mexico.
The incarceration rate catapulted in the 1970s and continued to swell over the next 40 years, giving rise to today’s prison reform movement. “Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it,” then-president Barack Obama said in 2015.
Many of Obama’s efforts focused on nonviolent drug offenders, mandatory minimum sentences, and private prisons. He’s far from alone in thinking those are the best routes for prison reform, says John Pfaff, AB’97, AM’02, JD’03, PhD’05.
But the conventional wisdom misses the real reasons why the United States is the world’s biggest jailer, argues Pfaff, a Fordham University law professor. Read More
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive