Today marks an interesting day in the American justice system to say the least! No, we are not celebrating the birth of a formalized justice system in America, but something all the more interesting took places today. Perhaps you may have been driving in the car and listening to the radio or maybe, just maybe you were stumbling, sleepily through the house on that cold Fall morning when you heard the news. Don’t worry, you aren’t going crazy or loosing your rabbit mind, it is true!
- 6,660 federal inmates will be released from prison on November 1, 2015 (wowzers).
My initial reaction to the news was just as shocking as yours, as I visualize first time readers being brought this news. In a sense I muttered, silently and internally the letters, WTF! Things like this do not happen everyday and I found myself on a whirlwind of thoughts asking: I wonder how this story ends, is this beneficial or detreimental to America, and what in world made a system built on mass incarceration begin making changes to that concept?
See the reality is, this isn’t your average cooler talk at the workplace. People undoubtedly have opinions and thoughts on crime, but the divergence of thought on how to address crime runs the gamete and many steer away from uttering one word about the response to crime. But this news is shocking and appalling in pretty much any circle, whether you’re pro the current system or in stark opposition.
Here we are in a system that has made its mark by boasting the highest per capita incarceration rate of developed countries and in the swipe of the pen and the blink of an eye, we may be witnessing the reversal of that trend. Three major states (Texas, Florida and Iowa) are at the forefront of this movement. Texas is set to release 2,220 inmates and Iowa and Florida are amongst the top releasors, as well, not to far behind. A great amount of these inmates are currently in halfway houses or being slowly integrated into the community but a significant amount is also being released straight from prison to a parole officer. Over the coming years, it is projected that at least 40,000 inmates will be released.
This by far isn’t the typical response to crime in America, or shall we say response to punishments. Long gone are the days of rehabilitation via solitary confinement, labor, and personal spiritual reflection credited to the Auburn and Pennsylvania system of justice. Even longer gone are the days in which inmates were rehabilated with vocational services that were hoped to provide meaningful substance into the lives of convicted offenders. As disclosed by the Department of Justice, the decision to begin releasing offenders early from their sentence boils down to a few major factors:
Increasingly growing and presently overcrowded prison facilities
Lack of funding to properly ensure the mission of the facility is being met
With such news it is no surprise tons of people are on pins and needles, while others are celebrating this turn of events as a minor victory towards a much larger goal of reform. Those on pins and needles are focused on the ramifications of a mass amount of offenders being released. To the contrary, advocates are saying enthusiastically, “well they shouldn’t have been incarcerated in the first place.” Those advocates also find themselves cheering the reversal of mandatory minimum sentences, hard-core drug laws, and the over-policing of minority communities.
No matter which side of the argument you fall on a question that begs answering is: How does this chapter of American history end? On another note, how about the fact that 6660 offenders will released (yes ‘666’……0)!!!!!