Mass incarceration has become one of the most debated criminal justice issues in American media. We have realized the error in the model of incarceration used over the last 30 years in the United States. Interestingly, the reality of the systems truly unfair application, and the resulting fallout has not been covered fully.
The abusive arrest and subsequent suspicious death of Sandra Bland is, tragically, far from an isolated incident. On the same day that the facts started to emerge about Bland, Kindra Chapman, an 18-year-old African American girl reportedly took her own life in an Alabama prison cell, after being arrested for allegedly stealing a cellphone.
In this age of hollow justice, courts of order, and government-sanctioned tyranny, the Constitution is no safeguard against government wrongdoing such as SWAT team raids, domestic surveillance, police shootings of unarmed citizens, indefinite detentions, asset forfeitures, prosecutorial misconduct and the like.
When a nonviolent offender spends a decade or more of their life behind bars because of mandatory minimum sentencing, no one benefits. When those who have paid their debt to society cannot find housing or a job, the entire economy suffers. When a generation of young Americans advance through our prison system instead of our school system, our nation is weaker for it.
In early June, the ACLU commissioned a nationwide poll of registered voters who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. The results, released Wednesday, demonstrate that we have arrived at a bipartisan moment where majorities of Americans no longer believe our criminal justice system serves the common good.
The one thing all parents share is the desire to protect their kids. Although the legalization and regulation of all drugs may seem counterintuitive to that desire, repealing prohibition will keep our communities safer. Legalization reduces the profit margins of illicit products and disincentivizes the time, money, and violence necessary to traffic drugs.