Reduce the prison population, invest in rehabilitation, and end the failed war on drugs.
The United States has the highest incarceration and recidivism rates of industrialized countries, while our nation’s criminal justice system in general is too often inhumane, ineffective, and prohibitively expensive. With less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States locks up nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Our law enforcement priorities place too much emphasis on drug-related and petty, non-violent crimes, and not enough on prosecution of corporate, white collar, and environmental crime. The majority of prisoners are serving terms for non-violent, minor property and drug addiction crimes, or violations of their conditions of parole or probation, while the poor, the under-educated and various racial and ethnic minorities are over-represented in the prison population.
The negative effects of imprisonment are far-reaching. Prisoners are isolated from their communities and often denied contact with the free world and the media. Access to educational and legal materials is in decline. Prison administrators wield total authority over their environments, diminishing procedural input from experts and censoring employee complaints.
Our priorities must include efforts to prevent violent crime and address the legitimate needs of victims, while addressing the socio-economic root causes of crime and practicing policies that prevent recidivism.
We should oppose the increasingly widespread privatization of prisons. These prisons treat people as their product and provide far worse service than government-run prisons. Profits in privately run prisons are derived from understaffing, which severely reduces the acceptable care of inmates. We believe that greater, not lesser public input, oversight and control of prisons is the answer.
We should call for an end to the “war on drugs”, legalization of drugs and for treating drug abuse as a health issue. The “war on drugs” has been an ill conceived program that has wasted billions of dollars misdirecting law enforcement resources away from apprehending and prosecuting violent criminals, while crowding our prisons with non-violent drug offenders and disproportionately criminalizing youth of color.
We should also call attention to the fact that more than forty percent of those 2.3 million locked down come from America’s black one-eighth.
We should recognizes that our nation’s ostensibly color-blind systems of law enforcement and crime control, from police practices to prosecutorial prerogatives, to mandatory sentencing and zero-tolerance have effectively constituted an ubiquitous national policy of racially selective mass incarceration, a successor to Jim Crow as a means of social control, a policy that must be publicly discussed, widely recognized, and ultimately reversed. The nearly universal, though largely unspoken nature of this policy makes piecemeal reforms not accompanied by public discussion of the larger policy ineffective outside the context of a broad social movement.
Source: Green Party