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January 27, 2009

New (award-winnning) ABA Journal essay on the problems of mass incarceration

I am pleased to learn and to report that this new essay about the problems of mass incarceration appears in the February 2009 ABA Journal after having been "selected by the ABA JournalBoard of Editors as the winner of the 2009 Ross Essay Contest."  The essay is by Ben Trachtenberg, and it titled "Incarceration Policy Strikes Out: Exploding prison population compromises the U.S. justice system." Here are a few excerpts:

At midyear 2007, U.S. prisons and jails held 2,299,116 inmates, meaning more than 1 percent of American adults were incarcerated. We top the world in per capita imprisonment, increasing our lead every year.  Since 2000, while the total U.S. population increased by 7 percent, our prison population has grown by 19 percent.  Our massive imprisonment costs needless billions and, perversely, hinders effective crime control.  We need to re­duce our prison population....

A rational criminal justice system would — while shortening sentences of certain offenders — keep others out of prison altogether. With alternative treatments and punishments, a state shrinks its prison budget, allows convicts to keep their jobs and support their families, and makes recidivism less likely....

By adopting “smart on crime” programs instead of knee-jerk toughness, states can reduce crime while spending less.  Reworked federal incentives would encourage smart state policymaking. While no one supports freeing rapists and murderers, warehousing every offender wastes money, destroys lives and contributes to our shameful status as the world’s leading incarcer­ator.  We need Washington to reward good policy, not costly grandstanding that bankrupts our state governments and confines more than one of every 100 American adults.

January 27, 2009 at 04:51 PM | Permalink


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"smart on crime"--liberalspeak for releasing lots of criminals onto our streets with little or no concern for what they'll do when out.

Posted by: | Jan 27, 2009 5:00:46 PM

You make use of the word "liberal" as if it is some sort of bad thing. I invite you to refer to a publicly-available dictionary to educate yourself regarding the meaning of the word "liberal." You will be very surprised to find that the manner of usage of this word by Rush, Hannity or O'Reilly have little relationship with any commonly-understood definitions. You may even begin to think for yourself once you come to understand that your "leaders" have been misusing such a common word.

Posted by: Mark | Jan 27, 2009 7:45:15 PM

Usually, mark, when people are talking about that kind of liberal, they mean classical liberal. It's quite clear what I mean by liberal here.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 27, 2009 8:10:08 PM

Well, then what we're doing now is so effective (over one percent of all adults incarcerated), let's invite some other into our government-paid vacation paradises. . .After all, what's the limit before we implode, can I get 2% anyone. . .Anyone. . .

Posted by: Mark | Jan 28, 2009 2:26:34 AM

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Posted by: PreomaWouborm | Jun 14, 2009 12:21:59 PM

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