August 28, 2008 · Updated 1:20 PM
The large number of people in prison and the huge costs to society, both financially and socially, should be enough to not only justify but mandate serious criminal justice reform.
America now incarcerates over 2.2 million people and we are the worlds number one jailer. We are not any safer for it but we are a lot poorer. Mass incarceration does not reduce crime nor make communities safer or stronger.
Here in Washington, we have nonviolent people in prison serving life sentences for low-level offenses due to our mandatory minimum sentencing laws. These policies have resulted in a prison population that is unsustainable. At about $28,000 each per year and three times that amount for those over 55 years old, and the prediction that we will need two new prisons in 10 ears, it would seem that lawmakers would act to repeal or modify these laws.