In this video from AJ+, America’s mass incarceration policies and the damage they wreak on lives and communities are laid out in a thoughtful way. Our nation calls itself the land of the free, but has the highest prison population in the world- 2.2 million people. If you include the people on probation and parole, that number shoots up to 6.9 million.
Even worse, the system is skewed heavily against minorities. One in three African-Americans born today will go to prison at some point in their lives, all due to the “tough on crime” laws passed in the 1980s by Ronald Reagan and Republican legislatures around the country. Mandatory minimum sentences, three-strikes laws, and other punitive actions have given birth to a vast prison-industrial complex which has become a huge business with enough political influence to keep it in place.
It’s an absolute travesty that is destroying families and perpetuating the cycle of poverty in our nation, and reform is desperately needed.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.