Here’s the problem with our criminal justice system:
First, too many people are locked up. The US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world – 10 million people over the course of a year.
Second, it shatters communities and divides families. Even a few days behind bars can lead to homelessness, job loss, and health problems.
Third, it deepens racial disparities. Because many aspects of our criminal justice system were created during the racist Jim Crow era, Blacks and Latinos represent 56 percent of the adult prison population, but only 28 percent of the U.S. general population.
Fourth, the road to re-entry is full of obstacles. When people are released from prison, they face laws that make it difficult to find housing, get jobs, or receive an education.
Past presidents have used tough-on-crime rhetoric to win elections. Their policies have fueled mass incarceration without improving public safety.
But over the past decade, 27 states have lowered incarceration AND reduced crime rates over the same time period.
There is already a clear path to a 50 percent cut with reforms like eliminating cash bail, ending the war on drugs, and getting rid of mandatory minimums. We just need the next president to commit to reforms like these.
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