US Justice System Is 'Broken,' Lawyers Say
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Los Angeles Times
Posted: April 19th, 2007
The American criminal justice system relies too heavily on imprisoning people and needs to consider more effective alternatives, according to a study released Wednesday by the American Bar Assn., the nation's largest lawyers' organization. "For more than 20 years, we've gotten tougher on crime," said Dennis W. Archer, a former Detroit mayor and the group's current president. "We can no longer sit by as more and more people particularly in minority communities are sent away for longer and longer periods of time while we make it more and more difficult for them to return to society after they serve their time. The system is broken. We need to fix it." Both the number of incarcerated Americans and the cost of locking them up are massive, the report said, and have been escalating significantly in recent years. Between 1974 and 2002, the number of inmates in federal and state prisons rose six-fold. By 2002, 476 out of every 100,000 Americans were imprisoned. In 1982, the states and federal government spent $9 billion on jails and prisons. By 1999, the figure had risen to $49 billion. Based on trends, a black male born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of being imprisoned during his lifetime, while the chances for a Latino male are 1 in 6, and for a white male, 1 in 17. The report contains numerous reform proposals. Among them: the repeal of mandatory minimum sentencing laws; more funding for substance abuse and mental health programs; assistance for prisoners reentering society; [and] task forces to study racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system.
Note: If above link fails, click here. The prison-industrial complex attracts huge profits and strongly supports laws like "three strikes" where third time offenders are automatically imprisoned for life, even for petty crime.