Prisons Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Prisons Corruption News Articles in Media
Activists who say too many poor people are unfairly languishing in U.S. jails because they can’t afford to post cash bail are increasingly deploying a new tactic: Bailing out strangers. Community groups are collecting donations from individuals, churches, cities and other organizations in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Nashville, to bail out indigent prisoners. They’ve freed several thousand people in the last few years, and the number is growing. The overwhelming majority of defendants still show up for court. Once free, the defendants are better able to fight their case, often leading to charges being dropped or reduced. “Many, many people are having their lives ruined pre-trial because they can’t afford to get out of jail,” said Max Suchan, who co-founded the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which had bailed out 50 people as of December. The bail funds are a step toward a larger goal for some legal reform activists: abolishing the cash bail system. Advocates say it creates two unequal tiers of justice: one for people who can afford bail and one for people who can’t. In Chicago the anti-cash bail movement has a seemingly unlikely ally in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. He argues the cash system should be abolished and replaced with more thorough background checks; if a person is considered dangerous, they stay in jail and if they’re not, they go free, with access to services such as drug-addiction counseling if needed.
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More than a hundred female federal inmates, sentenced to long-term prison, have instead been held for years in two windowless rooms in a detention center in Brooklyn. Conditions for the women have been found to violate international standards for the treatment of prisoners. The problem ... started in [Danbury], Connecticut, in what was the only federal prison for women in the Northeast. The prison population across the country increased nearly 10-fold over the last 40 years, and men's prisons were overflowing. In December 2012, the Bureau of Prisons decided to move the women out of the Danbury prison and move men in. The women were sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center, a jail in Brooklyn, until a new prison could be built. The move was supposed to last 18 months. But nearly three years later, many are still stuck at MDC. A report released by the National Association of Women Judges finds conditions for the women at MDC violate both the American Bar Association's standards and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners. The judges said the women had no access to the outdoors and inmates complained of being unable to get appropriate medical care. At least one inmate was visibly pregnant. David Patton, executive director of the Federal Defenders of New York, [a] public defenders' service [says,] "There have been maggots in the food, urine-stained mattresses, dryers that vent into the sleeping area, a lack of fresh air and recreation."
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Nico is one of 11 puppies in the Leader Dogs for the Blind Prison Puppies program, trained by 23 inmates at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven. At the ... all-male prison, it’s common to see inmates toting puppies on leashes through the grounds, eating in the Chow Hall with a lab or golden retriever by their side and passing time with a four-legged cellmate, who takes up a share of the 8-foot-by-11-foot space. “He’s with us 24/7,” said [Mario] Carines, who’s raising Nico with teammate James Fuson. “The puppy is a blessing,” he said, explaining that since the dogs arrived last summer, the morale of both the inmates and staff has improved. “Seeing animals around when the program first began, guys couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen a dog in 22 years,” he said. Prison Puppies started in 2002. Leader Dog coordinators noticed a difference in the success rate. Up to 60 percent of puppies raised in prisons become leader dogs, assisting the blind or deaf; the graduation rate of puppies outside prisons is about 45 percent. “Many of our dogs raised in correctional facilities go on to ... have long-term successful working careers as guide dogs,” said [program coordinator] Melissa Spooner. Prison Puppies is a “win-win-win,” Spooner said, since it benefits the recipient, Leader Dog and 108 inmates in the voluntary year-long program. In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found only 17 percent of inmates in Prison Puppies return to prison after being released. The national recidivism rate is about 50 percent.
Note: Watch an inspiring short video of this inspiring program.
Jintao Liu’s body shuddered in pain as he endured yet another day of extreme torture. He had woken to pins being pushed into his nails before he was forced to stand still in a yard for some 18 hours. During a lengthy stint in a series of Beijing detention centres and labour camps between 2006 and 2009 ... he was subjected to electric shocks, medical tests, forced feedings, beatings, violent sexual assaults and other barbaric forms of torture designed by prison guards to humiliate and inflict maximum pain. Mr Liu, 36, is one of thousands of people who have been incarcerated in some of China’s worst jails, labour camps and detention centres for practising Falun Gong. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) Australia spokeswoman Sophia Bryskine said the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners was still extensive with many being locked up “with no legal proceedings”. Since the Chinese government outlawed Falun Gong [in 1999], it has detained thousands - most likely hundreds of thousands - of practitioners, according to a 2008 report by the Congressional Commission on China. In 2006 the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, concluded that 66 per cent of all prisoners in China were Falun Gong practitioners. Mr Lin said he witnessed many other political prisoners being tortured and humiliated during his stint behind bars. Some prisoners were tortured to death, he said.
Note: If you can stomach it, several victims give their testimony in a video at the link above. For more, see this news article. Another article reveals how in extreme cases, government officials operate on imprisoned victims to take precious organs and sell them for use in transplants, sometimes resulting in the death of the victims. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the prison system.
The Justice Department is asking local courts across the country to be wary of how they slap poor defendants with fines and fees. In a letter ... to the chief judges and court administrators in all 50 states, Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, director of the Office for Access to Justice, wrote that illegal enforcement of fines and fees had been receiving increased attention. “Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape,” Gupta and Foster wrote. “Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared ... toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.” The White House and the department convened a summit on the issue in December. The Justice Department alleged in a recent lawsuit that officers in Ferguson, Mo., were violating citizens’ civil rights in part because their policing tactics were meant to generate revenue. The financial penalties - typically for minor misdemeanors, traffic infractions or violations of city code - disproportionately affect the poor, who cannot afford to pay immediately and are then hit with arrest warrants or additional penalties. Some towns [derive] 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from [these] petty fines and fees.
Note: Along with relying on municipal fines and fees that disproportionately impact the poor, some police departments simply steal from people when times get tough. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and income inequality.
President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences. In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement. The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days. The president’s reforms apply broadly to the roughly 10,000 federal inmates serving time in solitary confinement. The reforms come six months after Obama, as part of a broader criminal-justice reform push, ordered the Justice Department to study how solitary confinement was being used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” Obama wrote in his op-ed. He said he hoped his reforms at the federal level will serve as a model for states to rethink their rules on the issue.
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Nearly 50 Bay Area executives and professionals packed into a gymnasium last week at the state prison in Solano County and lined up, toe to toe, with a row of convicted criminals. For most entrepreneurs, it was a ... a place they had never been. But it was all too familiar for Kenyatta Leal, [who] left San Quentin in 2013 after 19 years behind bars. He was among the first to graduate from the Last Mile Program - a prison initiative [run by Defy Ventures, which is] intended to turn offenders into entrepreneurs. In one exercise, inmates and volunteers were given a prompt and told to step forward or backward depending on whether it applied to them. “I have been incarcerated,” read Brian Moll, Defy Ventures’ executive director for the Bay Area. Every inmate stepped forward. So did a handful of entrepreneurs. One by one, the professionals fell back - all but Leal, who stood alone in his beige suit. “No. No way,” said Oakland native Leonard Halfin, 46, who has been incarcerated for 25 years on a second-degree-murder charge. “I can’t believe that. I would have never thought he was one of us.” This, said Defy founder and chief executive Catherine Hoke, is the most important takeaway: It allows felons to realize that they have potential. Hoke’s hope is that participating in programs like Defy’s will help inmates formulate plans and sharpen professional skills that can help them become successful.
Until recently, 8-year-old Arkinya Graham had never met her father. While they have grown close talking over the phone for the past six months, her father Johnny "Trey" Williams is serving 23 years in a Michigan prison for second-degree murder. ABC News' "Nightline" was given access to go behind prison walls ... as Arkinya met her dad for the first time. Their special visit is part of a prison ministry program called "One Day with God" that is designed to help children reconcile with their parents behind bars. The two-day program is part family reunion, part intervention. On the first day, the dads get a seminar on the importance of fatherhood. On the second day, they get to ... spend a rare day doing various activities with their kids. "Children are the silent victims," said One Day with God founder Scottie Barnes. "[There is an] importance of these boys and girls having relationships with their mothers and fathers who are incarcerated across America." Barnes says her own father ... spent most of her childhood behind bars. "I never had a hug. I never even been told 'I love you' by my dad," Barnes said. "The little children ... want to be loved. They want to be somebody proud of them." Children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to end up incarcerated themselves. One Day with God is working to end the cycle of reincarceration. At a time when family programs are being cut in prison systems, this program is operating in seven states, [and] expanding to five other prisons in Michigan alone.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of these special father-child reunions. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Pope Francis will meet more than 100 men and women from a dangerously overcrowded prison population. Some 80% of those inmates at that prison, [Philadelphia's] Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), have not yet been convicted of the crime with which they were charged. Most of them are behind bars because they have not paid or cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial. Francis has visited prisons in multiple countries. This particular prison ... presents an extreme microcosm of two of the most pressing national prison problems: pretrial detention and overcrowding. The prison system – particularly in holding those who cannot afford to pay bail – targets the very people Pope Francis has shown the most concern for: the poor. With 2.2 million people incarcerated mostly in state prisons and jails like Philadelphia’s, the US now ... spends about $80bn on prisons. At any given time, between 400,000 to 500,000 of those people [are] held in pretrial or midtrial detention, sometimes for weeks, months and even years, usually because they cannot afford to pay bail. The Justice Department estimates that two-thirds of those inmates are non-dangerous defendants.
Chicago's leaders took a step Wednesday typically reserved for nations trying to make amends for slavery or genocide, agreeing to pay $5.5 million in reparations to the mostly African-American victims of the city's notorious police torture scandal and to teach schoolchildren about one of the most shameful chapters of Chicago's history. Chicago has already spent more than $100 million settling and losing lawsuits related to the torture of suspects by detectives under the command of disgraced former police commander Jon Burge from the 1970s through the early 1990s. The city council's backing of the new ordinance marks the first time a U.S. city has awarded survivors of racially motivated police torture the reparations they are due under international law, according to Amnesty International. "It is a powerful word and it was meant to be a powerful word. That was intentional," Alderman Joe Moore said of the decision to describe it as reparations. "This stain cannot be removed from our city's history, but it can be used as a lesson in what not to do," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who stressed that Chicago had to do more than just pay the victims if it is to really get beyond this stain on its history.
Note: Jon Burge tortured false confessions out of as many as 120 prisoners, and according to the Chicago Reader, may have learned how to do this while serving as a soldier in Vietnam. Chicago police maintain hidden interrogation sites where brutal treatment of suspects is used to obtain criminal confessions. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about civil liberties and government corruption from reliable major media sources.
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned. Through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. Almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them - to their own feelings, and to the wider society ... so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. They are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs. The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. For too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery - how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation. But this new evidence isn't just a challenge to us politically. It doesn't just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.
Note: The above was written by Johann Hari, bestselling author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. Read more about Portugal's stunning success in curbing drug addiction by ending its drug war and cultivating human connection. For more, read about how the science behind the bonding theory of addiction has been suppressed since the 1970's by drug war profiteers.
Months after he landed in Florida's Manatee County Jail, Jovon Frazier's pleas for [medical care] were met mostly with Tylenol. "I need to see a doctor!" he wrote on his eighth request form. Four months later, after Frazier's 13th request resulted in hospitalization and doctors quickly diagnosed bone cancer, his arm had to be amputated, according to a lawsuit filed by his family. But the cancer spread and Frazier died in 2011, months after his release. As an inmate, his medical care had been managed ... by a private company under contract. Corizon, whose responsibility for 345,000 inmates at prisons and jails in 27 states makes it the country's biggest for-profit correctional health provider, is just one of many firms using a similar model to vie for the billions of dollars states and counties spend on prisoner care. The growth of the for-profit prison care industry raises questions. Some critics say privatization, itself, is a faulty strategy, regardless of which company is hired. "The problem is a structure that creates incentives to cut corners and deny care to powerless people that have no other options," said David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project. [Corizon] generated $1.4 billion in revenue in 2013 and is owned by a Chicago private equity management firm.
Note: The above article shows that lawsuits and investigations in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and New York have all uncovered escalating inmate deaths related to Corizon's for-profit medical services. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about systemic corruption in the prison industry.
Sometime after 9/11 strange stories began to emerge about small town police agencies all over the nation receiving grants from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security to buy all kinds of high-tech equipment to fight “terrorism.” As Radley Balko thoroughly documented in his book Rise of the Warrior Cop the military industrial complex has created a new industry: the police industrial complex. Since 9/11 the United States has been spending vast sums of money through DHS to outfit the state and local authorities with surveillance and military gear ostensibly to fight the terrorist threat at home. What we have been seeing in Ferguson, Missouri, these past few days is largely a result of that program — and an entire industry has grown up around it. In less than a month a group of militarized police equipment vendors across the nation will be gathering for an annual confab called “Urban Shield” in Oakland, California. It features dozens of sponsors, from the Department of Homeland Security and police agencies all over the country to such vendors as Armored Mobility Inc. The Department of Homeland Security disburses somewhere in the vicinity of $3 billion a year for this sort of thing. Add in the loot that’s legally appropriated by police agencies in the war on drugs and you have a massive incentive to turn the streets of Ferguson, Missouri ... into a scene that looks more like the siege of Fallujah. We’ve been spending billions of taxpayer dollars for decades to turn the streets of urban America into a war zone at the merest hint of dissent. And now it’s here.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing military corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
“Us versus them” is not a paradigm that Jacques Verduin buys into. As the founder and director of the prison program Insight-Out, he believes that prison serves a purpose for people who cannot contain themselves when they act dangerously, but he has also learned that none of us is much different from the incarcerated. Thankfully Jacques has shown that the empowerment and transformation of prisoners is a big part of what prison reform looks like, and San Quentin State Prison has become a successful social experiment that is one of the best-kept secrets around. His programs, the Insight Prison Project and Insight-Out, are teaching prisoners to transform rage and pain into a positive force in the prison community as well as their own neighborhoods. In a year-long program participants make bonds with each other that transcend age [and] racial, economic, and gang differences. It takes time, but as group members get comfortable with the concept, they practice “sitting in the fire.” As Jacques explains, “By sitting with their own primary pain—the pain that initiated them into a suppression of their feelings—and their secondary pain—the pain associated with hurting others—they find strength in the midst of their overwhelming emotions. They need a support system to share their struggle of living up to these expectations. Shame runs deep in all of us. We all need a support system to help us connect with our wounded but more authentic self. Rather than fix ourselves, which assumes something is wrong with us, let’s accept and talk about our warts. By being vulnerable we take the power out of shame. That’s where authenticity lies.”
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The deputy described beating inmates unprovoked, slapping them, shooting them with a Taser gun and aggressively searching them to pick a fight — something he learned "on the job." He would huddle with other jail guards to get their stories straight and write up reports with bogus scenarios justifying the brutality. If the inmate had no visible injuries, he wouldn't report the use of force, period. He did all this with impunity, former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Gilbert Michel testified ..., knowing that even if inmates reported the abuse it "wouldn't go anywhere." If they were to put it in writing and drop it in a complaint box, it was his fellow deputies who opened that box too. Michel, 40, took the stand at the obstruction of justice trial of six sheriff's officials accused of impeding a federal civil rights investigation into allegations of excessive force at L.A. County jails. Michel, the first sheriff's deputy to be charged in the wide-reaching, ongoing investigation, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to a count of bribery and agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Michel ... described a culture among deputies guarding the high-security floors of the jails that led to excessive force and frequent coverups. He matter-of-factly recounted incidents in which he said he and at least five other sheriff's employees brutalized inmates on the third, or "3000," floor of Men's Central Jail, then falsified reports to legitimize their actions.
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The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: Prison undercrowding. There are now more guards and other prison staff than there are prisoners in the Netherlands for the first time, according to data released by the Justice Ministry. In 2008, there were around 15,000 inmates, in a country of 17 million. As of March of this year, there were just 9,710 inmates remaining, compared with 9,914 guards. And the number of inmates included 650 Belgian criminals the Netherlands is housing as part of a temporary deal. In the U.S., the figure is more like one guard or staff member per five prisoners. The overall U.S. incarceration rate is more than 10 times higher. Justice Ministry spokesman Jochgem van Opstal said "we're studying what the reason for the decline is." The ministry is already in the process of closing prisons and cutting 3,500 staff. Last week, labor union Abvakabo FNV slammed the cuts, saying they were leading to "staffing shortages." "At this moment you can't say there is any safety in Dutch prisons," union leader Corrie van Brenk said in an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS. "It's an explosive situation." The government has rejected the criticism, saying violent incidents at prisons have been declining. One change politicians are considering is ending a practice of granting probation to criminals once they have served two-thirds of their sentences.
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In 2009, when Robert H Richard IV, an unemployed heir to the DuPont family fortune, pled guilty to fourth-degree rape of his three-year-old daughter, a judge spared him a justifiable sentence – indeed, only put Richard on probation – because she figured this 1-percenter would "not fare well" in a prison setting. Richard’s ex-wife filed a new lawsuit accusing him of also sexually abusing their son. Since then, the original verdict has been fueling some angry speculation ... that the defendant's wealth and status may have played a role in his lenient sentencing. Inequality defines our criminal justice system just as it defines our society. It always has and it always will until we do something about it. America incarcerates more people than any other country on the planet, with over 2m currently in prison and more than 7m under some form of correctional supervision. More than 60% are racial and ethnic minorities, and the vast majority are poor. There is an abundance of evidence ... that both conscious and unconscious bias permeate every aspect of the criminal justice system, from arrests to sentencing and beyond. Unsurprisingly, this bias works in favor of wealthy (and white) defendants, while poor minorities routinely suffer. In August of last year the Sentencing Project, a non-profit devoted to criminal justice reform, released a comprehensive report on bias in the system. This is the sentence you need to remember: "The United States in effect operates two distinct criminal justice systems: one for wealthy people and another for poor people and minorities."
Note: For more on systemic injustice within the US prison/industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Federal officials on [December 9] unsealed five criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies as part of an FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption in the nation's largest jail system. Four grand jury indictments and a criminal complaint allege unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men's Central Jail. The FBI has been investigating allegations of excessive force and other misconduct at the county's jails since at least 2011. [An] official said the arrests were related to the abuse of individuals in the jail system and also allegations that sheriff's officials moved an FBI informant in the jails possibly to thwart their probe. Among those charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the 18-page indictment are two lieutenants, one of whom oversaw the department's safe jails program and another who investigated allegations of local crimes committed by sheriff's personnel, two sergeants and three deputies. All seven are accused of trying to prevent the FBI from contacting or interviewing an inmate who was helping federal agents in a corruption and civil rights probe. In an attempt to find out more information about the investigation, one lieutenant and the two sergeants sought a court order to compel the FBI to provide documents, prosecutors said. When a state judge denied the proposed order, the two sergeants allegedly attempted to intimidate one of the lead FBI agents outside her house and falsely told her they were going to seek a warrant for her arrest, the indictment said.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to introduce a mandatory prison sentence for anyone caught with an illegal firearm. But reams of data shows that incarceration creates more crime. One in 100 adults in the U.S. lives behind bars. One in nine African-American men are imprisoned. This country’s addiction to incarceration has not made us safer, but has instead imposed upon us an untenable, senseless tax while unfairly targeting poor communities of color and perpetuating crime and violence in our neighborhoods. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and activists on the left and the right are taking action to roll back imprisonment rates. Chicago’s communities have been ravaged by mass imprisonment. The U.S. currently has the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. And communities on Chicago’s West and South sides have incarceration rates that are double—and sometimes triple—the national average. This is not because more crime occurs in these neighborhoods. A National Institute of Health study that focused on the effects of mass incarceration on Chicago’s neighborhoods found that communities marked by poverty and racial segregation experience incarceration rates that are more than three times higher communities with similar crime rates.
Note: For more on the devastating impacts on society of the government-prison-industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
America is different from the rest of the world in lots of ways, many of them good. One of the bad ones is its willingness to lock up its citizens. One American adult in 100 festers behind bars (with the rate rising to one in nine for young black men). Its imprisoned population, at 2.3m, exceeds that of 15 of its states. No other rich country is nearly as punitive as the Land of the Free. The rate of incarceration is a fifth of America’s level in Britain, a ninth in Germany and a twelfth in Japan. America’s incarceration rate has quadrupled since 1970. Similar things have happened elsewhere. The incarceration rate in Britain has more than doubled, and that in Japan increased by half, over the period. But the trend has been sharper in America than in most of the rich world, and the disparity has grown. It is explained neither by a difference in criminality (the English are slightly more criminal than Americans, though less murderous), nor by the success of the policy: America’s violent-crime rate is higher than it was 40 years ago. Many states have mandatory minimum sentences, which remove judges’ discretion to show mercy, even when the circumstances of a case cry out for it. “Three strikes” laws, which were at first used to put away persistently violent criminals for life, have in several states been applied to lesser offenders.
Note: For a recent report on the size of the US prison population in comparison with other countries, click here.
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