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INCARCERATION


 
The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and state governments being overwhelmed by the burden of funding a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not the most effective means of achieving public safety.

U.S. State and Federal Prison Population, 1925-2013

Incarceration News
January 27, 2015
Race and Justice News

International: Racial Disparities in Incarceration in UK and Australia Exceed Those in United States 

Collateral Consequences: Jobseekers with Minor Arrest Records Face Employment Barriers 

Criminal Records Produce Widespread Economic Barriers 

Books: Bryan Stevenson: "Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done" 

Reforms: Justice Department Expands Rules Against Racial Profiling for Federal Law Enforcement, with Major Exceptions 


January 21, 2015 (Associated Press)
First Racial-Impact Law Seen as Having Modest Effect in Iowa

After a 2007 report showed that Iowa had the nation's highest disparity for sending blacks to prison, state lawmakers took a novel step: They passed a law requiring analysts to draft "racial-impact statements" on any proposals to create new crimes or tougher penalties.

The governor at the time said the statements would be "an essential tool" to understand how minority communities might be affected before any votes are cast.

A review by The Associated Press shows that the first-in-the-nation law appears to be having a modest effect, helping to defeat some legislation that could have exacerbated disparities and providing a smoother path to passage for measures deemed neutral or beneficial to minorities.


January 6, 2015 (Al Jazeera America)
Old age in the big house

George Hall, 79, sits in his room on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, at the Lakeland Men's Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan

It’s time for George Hall to come to the conference room, so he puts down his headphones and pivots his wheelchair away from the Brothers word processor he’s been using all morning to work on a friend’s legal brief. He navigates out of his room and into the antiseptic corridors, emitting a few coughs from chronic bronchitis. That’s the least of his health woes; he’s recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and can’t walk, because of inoperable herniated lumbar discs in his back.


December 19, 2014
State Advocacy Update: Addressing Racially Disparate Criminal Justice Policies and More

Approaches to Address Racial Disparity

Local Policy Interventions

Advocating to Fund Effective Alternatives


December 17, 2014 (Los Angeles Times)
Obama commutes sentences of eight prisoners convicted on drug charges

President Obama commuted the sentences Wednesday of eight prisoners serving lengthy terms for drug charges, but it was only a fraction of the 6,561 who applied for his help.

In January, the Justice Department announced an ambitious program to recruit lawyers to help drug offenders seek presidential clemency after being jailed under harsh sentencing laws. The move was in line with Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.’s push to reduce the U.S. prison population, particularly among African Americans serving disproportionally longer sentences for crack cocaine possession.