Shifting Prison Focus to Re-entry Into Society

[Let us hope that the reversal from jailing to rehabilitating will become an established feature of American policy in dealing with non-violent criminals. The U.S. in response to ‘law and order’ having become a hot button way to get elected to political office has become the leading imprisonment nation — more than 2 million currently. Such stats not only spell lives destroyed (of their families as well as those imprisoned), but also huge costs that might better be spent on education and rehab (which is far less expensive — keeping someone in jail costs as much as an Ivy League college tuition year!

The switch over to draconian punishment practices began about the time I started my college teaching career in the mid 1960s. Innumerable students in my philosophy of law courses did research papers on various aspects of our penal system and were constantly amazed (and embarrassed as Americans) that our nation could sink so low. We began to treat young kids as adult criminals. We were one of some five or six nations (not a very nice crew) that was executing juveniles (which we only stopped doing two years ago). Prisons are schools for crime and one imprisoned is three times as likely to commit crimes again — with greater sophistication.

There have been many reformers working to restore American justice to decency. One with whom I communicate periodically is Anthony Papa who served 12 of 15 years for a drug conviction before he was pardoned and proceeded on with a reform campaign for drug offenders:

The Justice Project is spread across the nation with many subdivision:

The Death Penalty Information Center provides basic information on this grim subject — all three of our national presidential candidates still support the death penalty — 93 nations at last count had abolished it as an incitement rather than deterrent to murders and an abyss of erroneous executions of innocent people:

It is, thus, with a sense of relief as one recently retired to see that this lonely battle is now becoming a public cause that needs some more house cleaning (our candidates), but which looks to be moving along at last. Ed Kent]


U.S. Shifting Prison Focus to Re-entry Into Society
In a sharp change in prison policy, the Bush administration
is lending support to programs that are turning from “get
tough” laws to “re-entry” strategies.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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