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The American public has decisively concluded that our approach to criminal justice isn’t working.
Today, crime and murder rates remain near record lows nationwide.
Our cities — many of which suffered under a wave of violent crime in the early 1990s — are largely safer than they have been in years.
As a result, they are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites.
In some states, this disparity is more than ten to one.
By now, the debate is over: our nation grossly over-incarcerates its people.
The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population and nearly one-quarter of its prisoners.Mass incarceration has crushing consequences: racial, social, and economic.We spend around 0 billion per year on our criminal justice system.For all these reasons, the politics of crime and punishment have changed fundamentally, in ways hard to imagine in an earlier era.Today, polls show widespread support for a less punitive approach.In California it costs more than ,000 per year to house each prisoner — more than it would cost to send them to Harvard.Mass incarceration exacerbates poverty and inequality, serving as an economic ball and chain that holds back millions, making it harder to find a job, access public benefits, and reintegrate into the community.Most disturbingly, the system profoundly discriminates against people of color at every juncture.African Americans are more likely to be stopped by police, arrested, detained before trial, and given harsher sentences than whites.No one is entirely sure what caused the steady crime decline of the past two and a half decades.But it is clear that it owes little to harsh policies and the resulting increase in incarceration.