Monday, October 26, 2015

tackling a problem

"U.S. Police Leaders Demand an End to Mass Incarceration" ------------- [TIME excerpt] --------------- "We need less incarceration, not more" ... More than 130 leading U.S. law enforcement officials are campaigning to reduce the national incarceration rate, one of the highest in the world.

The group, which includes the police chiefs of New York,

Los Angeles

and Chicago,

is asking for alternatives to arrest programs, cuts in the number of criminal laws and the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences, the New York Times reports. ---------------------- [end of TIME excerpt]

-------------- [The New York Times, Oct. 20] ------------- More than 130 police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs -- including some of the most prominent law enforcement officials in the country -- are adding their clout to the movement to reduce the nation's incarceration rate.

...Democrats and Republicans alike have pressed to temper the economic and social costs of mass incarceration, which has been driven by harsher penalties approved by Congress and state legislatures from the 1970s to the 1990s, when crime rates were far higher than today.

But the group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, represents an abrupt public shift in philosophy for dozens of law enforcement officials who have sustained careers based upon tough-on-crime strategies.

The group is asserting that "too many people are behind bars that don't belong there." ---------------- [end excerpt, NYTimes] ---------------------

4 Reader Comments, The NY Times:

Rich Henson, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Spend just a little time, even at the county and local levels, observing the penny-ante stuff they routinely send people to jail for, and most right-thinking people would be startled. 

So many prosecutors are wholly numb to the notion of what prison really is, yet they lobby with all their might to send people there for incredible amounts of time.  Thankfully, we are starting to see a top-down approach to fixing this.

David Levner, New York, NY

When mental institutions fell out of favor, they were supposed to be replaced by community-based treatment centers.  The institutions were closed but very few treatment centers were opened.  Many of the mentally ill became homeless and eventually ended up in prison.

Now prisons are falling out of favor.  But if we close prisons without treating the mentally ill, this will end in tragedy.

Of course, legalizing marijuana and releasing anyone convicted of a marijuana-related offense is a no-brainer.


This should not be a surprise that law enforcement groups take this stance.  Who is most aware of failed social policy than the cop on the street?  I think the average police officers would prefer fighting actual crime, rather than spending the majority of their time dealing with the effects of failed laws and policies. 

I do not think it is a reach to postulate a connection between the poor behavior of frustrated officers and the pointless insane circus they are forced to participate in.

Nikki, Georgia

I really enjoy reading articles like this.  People are finally doing something about fixing mass incarceration!  The US jails far more people than any other country, and most are in jail for minor offenses.  

I'm glad that this group of police officers and prosecutors was able to come together to tackle this problem.  It's about time. 

Like one police officer said in the article, they're just doing what only makes sense.  The millions spent on holding people in jail can now be put back into the community for more beneficial uses like education or fixing infrastructure.


{The New York Times.  Oct. 20, 2015.  "Police Leaders Join Call to Cut Prison Rosters."  By Timothy Williams.}


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