Let’s talk about prison reform…….
There are about 20 million felons in the United States, of which more than 13 million have the right to vote. Instead of demonizing them, let’s give them the opportunity to become productive members of society and thereby reduce the rate of recidivism. That rate is currently over 67% according to the National Institute of Justice. The cost to the States is over 52 billion dollars a year, the second fastest growing budget item after Medicaid
(New York Times 4/11).
Our country has more people in prison than any other in the world. Currently at about 2 million which are mostly held in state and local facilities, while another 200,000 are held in federal custody.
We need sentencing reform, especially for non-violent offenders. About 50% of all prisoners held in federal custody are there on drug related offenses. The average cost of incarceration for federal inmates is over $80 a day. Many mandatory sentences call for 20 years or more, which cause a huge financial burden on the taxpayers. We need to look at reducing long term sentences and use the savings for better education or just reducing the deficit, etc.
The word “felon” or “have you ever been convicted” should be struck from all employment applications as it is prejudicial often resulting in an automatic rejection for anyone answering “yes”. If at all it should be replaced with: are you currently on probation or parole.