Tuesday, August 13, 2013

America Behind Bars

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, the land of the free and the home of the brave incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country on the planet. Higher than Russia. Higher than Cuba. Higher than Rwanda.

Of course our prisons are bulging at the seams. Good for the private prisons industry, but bad for just about everyone else. Yesterday Attorney General Eric Holder announced some very modest sentencing reforms that include scaling back mandatory sentences for some small-time drug offenders and letting out a few non-violent geezers. One more timid step in the right direction from the president who stood on a platform labeled “change” when he ran for the office.

Change. The only substantive change we’ve seen in Washington is watching Obama slip-sliding to his right on just about every major issue he’s faced.

The sad reality is that when you have an administration that’s been frozen in the headlights for as long as Obama’s executive branch has been, even the smallest amount of movement is hailed by the press as a major step forward.

The steps that need to be taken are the decriminalization of marijuana and an entirely new approach to drug use and abuse by emphasizing treatment and education over incarceration. That would be real change.

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