While grading term papers in the undergraduate course I teach at USF, "From Slavery to Obama," I found myself watching the televised funeral of one the NYPD officers recently assassinated by an apparently deranged African-American man. The coincidence prompted me to reflect on the moral and political challenges confronting our nation as we commence the new year of 2015.
To change our punishment economy to one that provides care, the state must move funding toward support. Funding that goes toward the militarization of police and prisons and jails should instead be reallocated to community-based programs, job training, education, health care and restorative justice initiatives.
No matter where you stand on the issues, you must concede that there will be extreme gridlock for the next two years: Congress will block President Obama's appointments, while in turn the president will use up a lot of ink with a steady stream of vetoes when Congress passes bills to undermine his agenda.
No one argues that a federal prosecutor's role is easy. And, in many ways, the revolution in prosecution requires them to make even more subtle and difficult judgments than they do already. But if the nation is to end mass incarceration, with a criminal justice system suited to that goal, we must collectively embrace the revolution in prosecution.