Mass Incarceration

David Brook’s writing The Prison Problem in the September 29th Opinion section of the New York Times states: “But today’s incarceration levels do little to deter crime while they do much to rip up families, increase racial disparities and destroy lives.”

He then goes on to write that the reasons for mass incarceration are more nuanced that previously reported.  It is not the ‘war on drugs’ and it is not ‘minimum mandatory sentences’.  Reporting on work by John Pfaff of Fordham Law School, Brooks concludes that “District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges. Twenty years ago they brought felony charges against about one in three arrestees. Now it’s something like two in three. That produces a lot more plea bargains and a lot more prison terms.”

The challenges of privilege, prejudice and unjust treatment are finally being discussed openly.  Those of us who read “On The Run” know that multiple court appearances for minor offences, fines, court costs, and probation are also critical issues.  As a people of faith, we have an opportunity to be part of this discussion.  Let’s all look for ways to be part of the solution.

Art Hunt

First Presbyterian Peace and Justice Action Group