This National Journal article has me saddened that after literally decades of evidence that massive incarceration does not work – i.e., promote safety or advance the general welfare. After noting that the Supreme Court just heard arguments on the “cruelty” under the 8th Amendmental of locking up juveniles for life in non-capital cases, our lust for prisons continues:
That is our criminal-justice system’s incarceration of a staggering 2.3 million people, about half of them for nonviolent crimes, including most of the 500,000 locked up for drug offenses.
Forty percent of these prisoners are black, 20 percent are Hispanic, and most are poor and uneducated. This has had a devastating impact on poor black families and neighborhoods, where it has become the norm for young men — many of them fathers — to spend time in prison and emerge bitter, unemployable, and unmarriageable. (These numbers come from studies cited by Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a reform group.)
America imprisons seven times as many people as it did in 1972, several times as many per capita as other Western nations, and many more than any other nation in the world.