Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One in 100 adults in jail or prison (continued)

Bill Moyers made reference to the fact he had read an article in Sojourners magazine. that article appeared in the February 2009 of the publication and is titled, A Broken System, by Rose Marie Berger and Jeannie Choi. The article states:

For the first time in history, according to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States, more than one in every 100 adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison. There has not been, however, a correlating decrease in crime. “The education system, particularly for inner-city youth where the bulk of our prisoners come from, is abysmal,” Carol Fennelly, executive director of Hope House, a Washington, D.C.-based organization supporting prisoners’ families, told Sojourners. “We need real job opportunities and a reformed society in which people don’t end up in prison in the first place.” Here are some numbers:

* 67 percent: People released from prison who are re-arrested within three years.

* 32 percent: Increase in federal prisoners between 2000 and 2007, which coincides with the 454 new offenses added to the federal criminal code during that same period.

* 7.4 million. Number of people under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system in 2007.

* 83.5 percent: People in jail in 2002 who earned less than $2,000 per month prior to arrest.

* 64 percent: Increase in criminal justice-related government spending between 1996 and 2005, reaching a height of $213 billion in 2005.

Sources: “Moving Target: A Decade of Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex” (Justice Policy Institute, September 2008); “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008” (The Pew Center on the States); The Washington Post. A Broken System. by Rose Marie Berger and Jeannie Choi. Sojourners Magazine, February 2009 (Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 10). Between the Lines.

These statistics are not only disturbing, they, in fact, graphically point out to us the impact of disparity. While we live in a wonderful country and most of us enjoy a good lifestyle, not all people in America share in that quality life, and those that don't are generally not white, middle or upper class, and mentally and physically healthy. As a result we need to admit that our legal system is racially and socioecominically constructed. Until we acknowledge this fundamental truth, we will not be able to create the profound change that is required to create an America where all people can flourish.

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