Thursday, November 30, 2006

New focus on the WOsD

As I had hoped, poor old Kathryn Johnston didn't die completely in vain. Her untimely death, coupled with the tragic gunning down of the unarmed man in NYC, seems to have galvanized the MSM into examining drug war and law enforcement issues. Today MSNBC posts this Report: 7 million Americans in justice system.
WASHINGTON - A record 7 million people -- or one in every 32 American adults -- were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2,193,798 were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year.
And this is an important point that I'm glad to see they addressed.
Men still far outnumber women in prisons and jails, but the female population is growing faster. Over the past year, the population females in state or federal prison increased 2.6 percent while the number of male inmates rose 1.9 percent. By year's end, 7 percent of all inmates were women.

"Today's figures fail to capture incarceration's impact on the thousands of children left behind by mothers in prison," Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group supporting criminal justice reform, said in a statement Wednesday. "Misguided policies that create harsher sentences for nonviolent drug offenses are disproportionately responsible for the increasing rates of women in prisons and jails."

From 1995 until 2003, inmates in federal prison for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.
One can only hope that the public becomes equally galvanized and starts to demand real change in drug war policies and sentencing reform. We do not live in the most violent society on earth. There's no reason we should be funding and running the largest prison gulag in the world.


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