By Dianne Frazee-Walker
There is good news about the condition of America’s criminal justice system. Both conservatives and liberals are agreeing that the time has come to revamp the prison system. Everyone is on the same page about how mass incarceration is costing the country too much money. For some reason when an out of control problem hits people’s pocketbooks, collaboration happens. When incarcerating a prisoner for a year reaches the same cost as student tuition at Harvard University, it is time to make a change.
Realization that American prisons are being financed to perpetuate social insufficiency, recidivism, and desperateness has caused legislation to reconsider the high cost of incarceration. The result is crime rates have decreased and the public is beginning to support non-violent offender reform as opposed to long-term prison sentences.
Over the last three years prison doors have been shutting on the outside instead of the inside. The prison population is not large enough to fill America’s prisons and they are gradually going out of business. From academics, progressive law enforcement groups, innovative rehabilitation programs and victim crime advocates to even fundamentalists, all have been struggling to repair our broken justice system, which has turned into a perpetual misery machine.
America’s mass incarceration dilemma has forced society to take a long hard look at what can be done to transform criminals into productive citizens.
Even states that use punitive law-and-order approaches in an attempt to conquer crime are now desperate enough to embrace tolerant rehabilitation programs once thought of as bleeding heart liberalism alternatives only a few years ago.