Our criminal justice system in America is broken. Our so-called “tough on crime” laws have led to us being the most incarcerated nation in the developed world – disproportionately affecting minorities and some of our most already hard hit communities. Yet at the same time, we have some of the highest levels of violence and crime. It is clearly not an effective strategy, and in fact is largely destructive.
Pew research has shown that if you are locking up more than 500 people per 100,000, you are actually adding to crime because we are disrupting and destabilizing so many families and communities that cannot easily recover. The national average in many parts of the US is over 700 per 100,000 and there are many communities around the country that are at 2000 or even 4000 per 100,000. We must do better, and we can do better.
We are seeing a plethora of cost-effective and evidence-based approaches to implementing justice in society that focus more on healing harm done, rather than simply punishing it. These approaches are proving to work better than our current approach.
Four Phases of the Justice System
“I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed–which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.
It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.”
More to come…
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