5845484/prisons-are-terrible- and-there-is-finally-a-way-to- get-rid-of-them
politics/archive/2014/07/the- leader-of-the-unfree-world/ 374348/
In fact, if we released everyone now serving time in state prisons whose primary charge is a drug offense, we would reduce the state prison population by only 20 percent.
The overwhelming majority of people in prison are not there because of a drug offense…That’s not to minimize the cost of the War on Drugs, especially for African Americans, and the need to end this unjust war….One of the most shocking stats  is that simply rolling back punishments for violent offenses to their 1984 levels in 2004 would have done more to lower the incarceration rate — a cut in state prison rates of 30 percent — than simply ending the drug war.
The African-American incarceration rate of about 2,300 per 100,000 people is clearly off the charts and a shocking figure. The black-white incarceration rate in the United States is about 6 to 1. Focusing so intently on these racial disparities often obscures the fact that the incarceration rates for other groups in the United States, including whites and Latinos, is also comparatively very high, just not astronomically high as in the case of blacks.
The white incarceration rate in the United States is about 400 per 100,000. This is about 2 to 2.5 times the total incarceration rates of the most punitive countries in Western Europe and about 5 to 6 times the rate of the least punitive ones.
Even if you released every African American from US prisons and jails today, we’d still have a mass incarceration crisis in this country. I do not mean to minimize the enormity of the problem of the carceral state for African Americans but rather to make a larger point about how we need to think about racial disparities and criminal justice in a more nuanced way and in a wider context.
- Open discussion on ideas here: GPS house arrest, humane approaches to incarceration, and the fact that ending mass incarceration means releasing people who have committed violent crimes.
- If we abolished prisons, there would certainly be violence committed by people under house arrest. Ending mass incarceration means that violent people will have the opportunity to commit violence against society that they would not have if they were incarcerated. This is the most common objection to prison abolition. What would you say to someone with this perspective?
- Paradoxically, having less harsh incarceration actually makes society safer, but we might feel less safe as some people would commit crimes while on GPS house arrest.
- Prisons are barbaric and have no place in our world. If we must accept some extra danger to eliminate that barbarism, so be it.
- Do you agree with this statement: society thanks that people who have committed crimes are monsters we need to be protected from, rather than people deserving of basic human rights who are capable of growth. As long as society views people convicted of crimes as monsters, meaningful criminal justice reform is impossible.
Future ideas for returning to this topic: