Mass Incarceration

Mass Incarceration Is a Cruel, Expensive, Ineffective Approach to Addressing Crime

Doing the identical factor repeatedly and anticipating completely different outcomes is usually cited because the definition of madness. By that measure, then, America’s method to fixing crime is as insane because it will get. 

If what number of police we rent, prisons we assemble, individuals we incarcerate, and billions of {dollars} we spend money on the jail industrial advanced translated to public security, the communities with the best police presence could be the most secure, and America could be heaven on Earth. Nevertheless it’s not — particularly not in accordance with the politicians who fearmonger about rising crime, all whereas asking us to maintain investing in the identical failed method to addressing it. 

This American system is a automobile for maintaining racial, social, and economic inequality by criminalizing poor Black and brown communities, using them for labor, and saddling them with debt, trauma, and rap sheets with lifelong penalties that may not often be outrun. That is deliberate and immoral, however the name to divest from police, prisons, and mass incarceration is about greater than morality; it’s about outcomes, and mass incarceration has failed to supply them.

All of us wish to reside in a secure society that is freed from “crime” and the social ills that reproduce it. However persevering with to spend money on policing and the mass incarceration of communities — whose well-being we’ve by no means invested in — solely takes us additional away from that objective.

In America, police arrest someone every three seconds, in accordance with the Vera Institute of Justice. A 2020 overview from College of Utah professor Shima Baughman, nevertheless, discovered that police remedy just 2% of all major crimes. The USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  A 2020 report from the American Motion Discussion board discovered that this nation spends an estimated $300 billion on policing  and prisons yearly, a determine that has continued to extend regardless of report drops in crime. Political leaders and the media proceed to sensationalize and manufacture crime waves to scare the general public into feeling unsafe, in order that we proceed supporting inflated police budgets, militarized police departments, and incarcerating residents of essentially the most under-resourced communities. 

Almost 2 million people are incarcerated in America, over 400,000 of whom have not had a trial or been convicted of any crime, in accordance with the Jail Coverage Institute (PPI). Nearly 60% of incarcerated people are Black or Latino, per PPI’s most up-to-date numbers. The Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse says that analysis exhibits some 65% of the US jail inhabitants has substance abuse points. The overwhelming majority of incarcerated individuals earned wages under the poverty line earlier than their arrest, according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, and 43% of state and 23% of federal prisoners have a historical past of a psychological well being difficulty. Add to that, tons of of individuals die in federal and state prisons every year. The main reason behind dying? Suicide.   

These profoundly grim statistics lengthen to what the US asks of incarcerated individuals whereas they’re locked away. Incarcerated individuals, in private and non-private prisons, produce over $11 billion in goods for nearly no earnings. A 2022 ACLU report found that, on average, most states pay incarcerated individuals between 13 and 52 cents an hour — of which the federal government claims as a lot as 80% — and 7 states skip the pretense altogether and pay completely nothing for many jobs. Typically, incarcerated individuals can’t afford the essential requirements for which they’re charged, their households spend over $2.9 billion in commissaries every year, along with another $14.8 billion in prices related to transferring, eviction, and homelessness introduced on by these circumstances. 

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