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May 7, 2014

New Human Rights Watch report bemoans "Nation Behind Bars"

HRWAs reported in this press release, Human Rights Watch has issued a new report highlighting the problems of mass incarceration in the united States. Here are the details (and a link) via the the start of the press release:

The 36-page report, “Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution,” notes that laws requiring penalties that are far longer than necessary to meet the purposes of punishment have given the United States the world’s highest reported rate of incarceration. These laws have spawned widespread and well-founded public doubts about the fairness of the US criminal justice system.

“The ‘land of the free’ has become a country of prisons,” said Jamie Fellner, co-author of the report and senior advisor to the US Program at Human Rights Watch. “Too many men and women are serving harsh prison sentences for nonviolent and often minor crimes. How can a country committed to liberty send minor dealers to die in prison for selling small amounts of illegal drugs to adults?”....

Momentum to reduce mass incarceration is growing. Human Rights Watch is seeking to build on this momentum and offer a way forward. Federal and state legislators should ground their moves for reform in core principles of human rights, including prudent use of criminal sanctions, fair punishment, and equal protection of the laws.

To put those principles into practice, Human Rights Watch urges legislators at the very least to:

  • Ensure that the severity of the punishment does not exceed the gravity of the crime;
  • Reform or eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws that prevent judges from being able to tailor sentences to the individual crime and the particular defendant;
  • Ensure that adolescents and children are treated in a manner appropriate to their age and capacity for change, and that they are not subjected to all the same criminal procedures and sanctions as adults;
  • Reduce or eliminate criminal sanctions for immigration offenders, especially those who have done nothing more than enter the country illegally; End criminal sanctions for possession of illegal drugs for personal use; and
  • Ensure that criminal law is not by its terms or enforcement biased against any racial, ethnic, or religious group, as for example, in the disproportionate enforcement of drug laws against black people in the US.

May 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

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Comments

they were doing great till they hit this one!

"•Reduce or eliminate criminal sanctions for immigration offenders, especially those who have done nothing more than enter the country illegally; End criminal sanctions for possession of illegal drugs for personal use; and"

last time I looked most of the world does this not just us. if I'm not mistaken anyone crossing Mexico's southern border can look forward to a few years in a REAL PRISON at a minimum followed by an immediate trip back across the border.

Posted by: rodsmith | May 7, 2014 4:05:50 PM

Doesn't mean it's right, Rod. Unless they are star ballet dancers or left-handed relief pitchers with Major League baseball teams they simply can't come here. Our immigration policy is virtually "keep out or we'll throw you in prison!" If you're an impoverished Mexican with a family where else are you going to go to give your family a better life?

Posted by: John K | May 9, 2014 7:32:58 PM

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