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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/23/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Growing numbers of inmates have lawmakers rethinking criminal codes

An exploding prison populations coupled with budget constraints have made a number of U.S. states, including the most conservative ones to rethink their criminal codes. About 15 states have set changes in motion, while others states, such as Georgia, are considering them.

An estimated two million people are behind bars in the U.S., making up a staggering 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The chief reason for the increase since the 1980s has been the influx of low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders.

An estimated two million people are behind bars in the U.S., making up a staggering 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The chief reason for the increase since the 1980s has been the influx of low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/23/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Prison populations, drug offenders, recidivism


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Alison Lawrence, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures says that the changes include reduction or elimination of prison time for certain property crimes and drug crimes. There is also discussion of drug treatment instead of prison for drug addicts.

As reported by the Southern Center for Human Rights, some of the changes have already taken place in some states.

In Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island jail or prison time has been reduced or eliminated for parole and probation violations, opting instead for stricter supervision and alternative sentences like community service.

Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee have all created alternative sentencing options for low-level, low-risk offenders, such as parole and probation.

Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas have all attempted to reduce recidivism - wherein people return to prison shortly after being released -- by stronger emphasis on reentry planning that is tailored to meet individuals' needs.

In addition, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee have removed minimum sentencing requirements for certain drug-related violations.

Experts point out that growing prison populations are largely the result of the failed "war on drugs" in the U.S., in addition to "get tough on crime" policies advocated by many Republicans and some Democrats at the state and federal levels, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s.

An estimated two million people are behind bars in the U.S., making up a staggering 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The chief reason for the increase since the 1980s has been the influx of low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders.

Even some conservative Republicans have begun to reverse course, including former speaker of the U.S. house Newt Gingrich, now a candidate for president and lobbyist Grover Norquist have joined with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to call for substantial reforms.

According to a 2011 NAACP report, spending by states on prisons has increased at a rate six times higher than that of spending on higher education. This amount is over $50 billion dollars annually, according to a 2009 report by the Pew Center on the States.

In California, the problem of prison overcrowding became so bad that the federal courts had to step in, ordering the state to reduce its state prison populations to 137.5 percent of its prison capacity within two years, a reduction of 45,000 people.

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



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