CO Biz Magazine
a country that claims to be the land of the free, the number of people under the control of the U.S. corrections system has exploded over the last 25 years to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released by the Pew Center on the States. The actual number of people behind bars rose to 2.3 million, nearly five times more than the world’s average.
The U.S. currently boasts the highest rate of incarceration of any country at any time in history, a full 25 percent of the world’s prison population. We also have the greatest number of laws of any country at any time in history, laws created by nearly 90,000 separate governmental entities. This spaghetti mess of rules and regulation is so complicated that virtually any person can get tripped up by them. One simple mistake may very well result in incarceration, and it goes downhill from there.
Incarceration is a system that breeds failure.
On the prisoner level, an incoming prisoner is instantly immersed in an “us-vs-them” mindset as their surrounding community is transformed into the worst of all possible social circles.
On the operational level, success in the prison industry is not measured by how many lives have been improved, but rather on occupancy levels, the number of prison incidents and escape attempts, and how well the budget is managed.
On the justice system level, more prisoners translate into larger budgets. The system was created to protect people from criminals. Its based on the notion that if someone is removed from society they can no longer harm anyone. While certain crimes warrant imprisonment, it becomes an inappropriate form of punishment for most.
Police and court systems improve their standing in the justice community through the size of their organization which directly relates to the sheer volume of cases they handle. On a certain level, albeit indirectly, there are incentives to “create more criminals” because more criminals mean more money. A more appropriate measure of the effectiveness of an organization would be in the corrective or transformative nature of their actions, the overall efficiency with which a problem is solved and people (both the offenders and the offended) go back to leading productive lives.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Monday, March 29, 2010
CO Biz Magazine