Monday, May 12, 2014

Something else that's going downhill these days...the size of our prison population

Building on something I posted last week, check this out.

After over 30 years of exponential growth, the number of prison admissions in this country is going down...so much so that in 2012 it was at a two-decades low.

The author of that piece, Stanford Psychiatry Professor Keith Humphreys, highlighted that as part of an overall trend.
The size of the prison population started to drop for the first time since the early 1970s and has kept dropping since. The rate of annual prison admissions fell to a two-decade low. Politicians on the right and left made common cause against mass incarceration in state after state, cutting sentences, promoting alternatives to incarceration, and closing correctional facilities. For the first time in 40 years, Congress and the President eliminated a mandatory minimum sentence. Marijuana decriminalization and legalization laws swept the land, and the intensity of pot enforcement swooned. Meanwhile, The Affordable Care Act and related reforms made addiction treatment more available than at any time in U.S. history.
Now THAT'S what I'd call "seeing the big picture" on an important issue! Its a veritable collection of baby steps paying off.

The question becomes...what do we do with information like that? Do we say "job done," pat ourselves on the collective back and go home? Do we wring our hands about all that is left to be done and wallow in our cynicism? Or does knowing this tell us that small baby steps eventually add up, so lets get onboard the bandwagon for the next one? I'm firmly in the latter camp.

I love how Humphries put it.
Mass incarceration is far from solved, but it’s 10 o’clock in the morning after a long dark night...

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