Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mass Incarceration

("First Up Mental Illness, Next Topic Is Up to You")

My vote as the issue which deserves to be examined in stark detail in 2014 is our addictive attraction to mass incarceration as the solution to a host of societal dilemmas.

Our prisons are overflowing with those we have been unable and unwilling to attend to properly. The economically downtrodden, the mentally ill, the drug afflicted, those born of the wrong skin color, all are deemed somehow unresolvable, unsuitable members of our community and cast out into a purgatory we have created with our own two hands.

The  NY Times (July 25, 2013- US Prison Population Decline Reflects New Approach to Crime) applauded the results of a study showing a minor decrease in 2012 in the number of federal and state prisoners.Yet the reality is that much of this was directly attributable to budgetary constraints forcing the closure of some facilities and to the mandate of the US Supreme Court to California to reduce its overcrowded prisons. There in not nearly enough public conversation or outrage over the fact that there are still more than 1.5 million members of our nation spending this evening in some jail cell in our country.

The cost to our society, not just in dollars and cents, but in disruption and destruction of all the lives that are connected to the person incarcerated is incalculable.

It is a black mark on us that we have not given sufficient focus to this issue and to ways in which we can  fundamentally change our thinking so that prison becomes a place not of first, but of last resort, in attempting to resolve those matters we find difficult and uncomfortable to address.


Anonymous said...

Our wonderful politicians in Washington , instead of taking another break [from what?] should spend a week in one of these facilities, to see how the facility rehabilitates those unfortunate many.

Anonymous said...

Does our society value people who are not rich and famous? Or, do we live in a nation that relies on government stimulus spending on the prison--courthouse--police system that is the same as the military industrial complex that Eisenhower derided.