State Prisons: Listen To The Feds

| 12/12/2007 1:36:32 PM

Tags: race and prison, race, prison, Supreme Court sentencing, crack cocaine, crack, sentencing disparities, U.S. Sentencing Commission,

Prison by Dlyan OliphantLast week the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced that incarceration remains a thriving growth industry in the United States. According to the agency (pdf), by the end of 2006, 1 in 31 American adults were under penal supervision—either in prisons or jails, or on probation or parole. Then, this week, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Sentencing Commission took aim at the disproportionately harsh sentences meted out for crack-cocaine offenses, suggesting that Americans and their democratic institutions might finally be waking up to the gross racial disparities haunting our prison system.

That’s all good news, but there’s still much work to be done, especially on the state level, where most of the country’s inmates originate. As Glenn C. Loury reports in “America Incarcerated” (reprinted from the Boston Review in our Nov.-Dec. issue):

One-third of inmates in state prisons are violent criminals, convicted of homicide, rape, or robbery. The other two-thirds consist mainly of property and drug offenders. Inmates are disproportionately drawn from the most disadvantaged parts of society. On average, state inmates have fewer than 11 years of schooling. They are also vastly disproportionately black and brown.

If our criminal justice system is to resurrect its credibility, states will have to take the feds’ cue and shed their status as warehousers of low-level offenders of color.

Hannah Lobel

David Carroll
12/19/2007 2:40:48 AM

My Site, Addiction: Why Me? ... is an attempt a "very basic" education on Addicts, Addiction, and Victims of an Addiction. Looking at this issue from the "Disease Concept" will, if the genersl population can be informed, definitely explain how "Out of Whack" our sentencing is, in it's application to drug users. I believe that America is very slowly beginning to understand that we can't have one-half of the people incarcerated and the other half watching them. If we don't take a look at sentencing and analyze the problems that bring so many to our courts, the U.S. correctional system is going to be larger than the Federal Government, and between the two, we'll all be taxed into poverty. I'm not even getting into this "War" trip. P.S. - I'm a drug counselor, a Veteran, and a recoverying addict of 12 years +.

Harold W. Ard_2
12/13/2007 12:48:28 PM

Patricia Masterson You have the right thought, however I think you have it directed the wrong way. Please remember the thought "know not what they do," was not directed at those with a spiritual malady. It was directed to those driving the nails.

Harold W. Ard_1
12/13/2007 11:59:28 AM

A friend came up missing. Her name is Regina. Thought she might be in the pokey so I put Regina in the MDOC(MS) inmate search Can you believe what I found? Inmate ID Last Name First Name Location Term Offense 95262 DIXON REGINALD KEMPER CCF 60 YEARS COCAINE-POSSESS 110776 DIXON REGINALD MSP 6 YEARS, RAPE 4 MONTHS, 4 DAYS