Saturday, June 6, 2009
Slate.com has an interesting article by Dahlia Lithwick that addresses the current US prison problem. In February 2008, I wrote about the fact that for the first time in U.S. history, more than 1 in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison in my entry, Tarnishing the American dream. The Slate.com article,"Cage Match: Guantanamo is the least of America's prison problems", points out that with 5% of the world's population, the U.S. houses nearly 25% of the world's prisoners.
Sen. James Webb, D-Va is currently trying to address meaningful prison reform, and I give this new Senator credit because while there are plenty of reasons this should be done it is unlikely he will earn the support of the American electorate. Probably the only time most people give any thought to our prison system is if / when the subject of housing them in or near their communities is discussed. However, with an incarceration rate nearly 5 times the world average, and local, state, and federal spending on corrections reaching nearly $70 billion per year, something clearly has to be done.
I'll end with a quote from Senator Webb in the Slate.com article because I think its brevity and point is difficult to dispute,""Either we're the most evil people on earth, or we're doing something wrong." For the record, I don't think the U.S. is even remotely evil so clearly we must be doing something wrong. We have both moral and financial incentives to think this through more carefully. I hope Sen. Webb can pursuade the U.S. Congress to consider the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009.