There is a crisis that demands our urgent attention. For the last four decades, this country has been obsessed with expanding the number of people we throw behind bars and the length of time we hold them there. Crime rates have been falling for the last 20 years, but still we have a massive and unsustainable prison population, particularly targeting the poor and powerless. We’re not strengthening communities, we’re using our criminal justice system to throw away certain people’s lives – disproportionately the lives of Black and brown men, women, and children. This has decimated communities around the nation and it’s gone on for far too long.
But we’re not stuck with a criminal justice system that is hurting us. Solutions exist, and the ACLU’s Smart Justice Fair Justice Campaign is already working to put them into practice. Bad laws and policies are created by the politicians who are supposed to represent us. Police departments choose how to enforce these bad laws. Bad policies are made, and bad policies can be changed.
Here’s what we can do. Over a million people are sitting in a cell for a non-violent offense. These people pose no threat to public safety, but many will be locked away for years because of extreme sentencing laws and selective prosecution. We can get rid of mandatory minimums and extreme sentencing laws.
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