The AP reports that America is locking up a record high number of people in prison. About 1 in 100 people are in jail. In fact, we’re the number one incarcerator in the world. (I bet Colbert does a USA chant.)
The news article is regurgitating data from a recently released report by the Pew Center on the States. I can’t criticize the Pew Center report because I haven’t read it, but I find it extremely curious that there is no mention of the “War on Drugs” in the article. It talks about the disparity between races and talks about how states want to get creative with non-violent offenders. It even talks about how stuff like 3 strikes laws have lead to the increase. Yet it does not talk about drugs.
Let’s go back to those 3 strikes laws, mandatory sentencing, and their ilk. According to Human Rights Watch: “Although these policies were championed as protecting the public from serious and violent offenders, they have instead yielded high rates of confinement of nonviolent offenders.” Human Rights Watch then goes on to state that the war on drugs has led to an increase in the number of people in prison. A lot of those non-violent offenders are in there because of drug offenses.
Want to decrease the prison population and help the fiscal crisis in our state of California (and other states)? End the war on drugs.