Prisons

Citing Failed War on Drugs, World Leaders Call for Widespread Decriminalization

Global commission condemns "harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies"

by Deidre Fulton, Commondreams staff writer
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/09/09/citing-failed-war-drugs-worl...

In the face of a failed War on Drugs, a global commission composed mostly of former world leaders recommended on Tuesday that governments decriminalize and regulate the use of currently illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and psychedelics.

Crime, Bias and Statistics

by Charles M. Blow

Discussions of the relationship between blacks and the criminal justice system in this country too often grind to a halt as people slink down into their silos and arm themselves with their best rhetorical weapons — racial bias on one side and statistics in which minorities, particularly blacks, are overrepresented as criminals on the other.

What I find too often overlooked in this war of words is the intersection between the two positions, meaning the degree to which bias informs the statistics and vice versa.

The troubling association — in fact, overassociation — of blacks with criminality directly affects the way we think about both crime and blacks as a whole.

A damning report released by the Sentencing Project last week (http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_Race_and_Punishment...) lays bare the bias and the interconnecting systemic structures that reinforce it and disproportionately affect African-Americans.

Let's Interupt the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline by Empowering Our Nation's Youth

By supporting the The Youth PROMISE Act and other programs that save lives, we can give every young person the chance to reach their full potential

by Matthew Albracht
 

Were you aware that in the United States, homicide frequently ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for youths aged 15 to 24 years old?  Sadly, good case could be made that many of our own neighborhoods are effectively war zones.

In fact, research has shown that many youth in these communities struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder at similar levels to what’s experienced by returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans . It’s one of the great and too-often ignored tragedies of our time—and it’s happening in our own neighborhoods. 

'They Just Killed Him': New Video Betrays Police Depiction of Fatal Shooting

Amid ongoing demonstrations in city of Ferguson, Mo. and national outrage over police violence against black community members, new evidence in Tuesday's shooting of man by St. Louis police

by John Queally, Commondreams staff writer

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/08/21/they-just-killed-him-new-video-betrays-police-depiction-fatal-shooting
 

New York Times Editorial Board: Repeal Prohibition, Again

The paper of record goes on the record unequivocably in favor of legalization of marijuana.

by the New York Times Editorial Board

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

End Mass Incarceration Now

The American experiment in mass incarceration has been a moral, legal, social, and economic disaster. It cannot end soon enough.

by the New York Times Editorial Board
 

For more than a decade, researchers across multiple disciplines have been issuing reports on the widespread societal and economic damage caused by America’s now-40-year experiment in locking up vast numbers of its citizens. If there is any remaining disagreement about the destructiveness of this experiment, it mirrors the so-called debate over climate change.

In both cases, overwhelming evidence shows a crisis that threatens society as a whole. In both cases, those who study the problem have called for immediate correction.

Greenwald: From MLK to Anonymous, the State Targets Dissenters Not Just "Bad Guys"

The opportunity those in power have to characterise political opponents as "national security threats" or even "terrorists" has repeatedly proven irresistible.

Don't believe the argument that mass surveillance is only a problem for wrongdoers. Governments have repeatedly spied on anyone who challenges their power

by Glenn Greenwald

The following is an excerpt, as it appeared in The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, from Glenn Greenwald's latest book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, published on May 13, 2013 by Hamish Hamilton:

Report: U.S. Needs to ‘Significantly Reduce’ Prison Population

by Drug Policy Alliance

U.S. Has Less Than Five percent of World’s Population but Nearly 25 percent of People Behind Bars; Drug War Fueled Prison Explosion

WASHINGTON, DC — A groundbreaking report released this week by the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, documents the unprecedented and costly price of U.S. incarceration rates.

With less than five percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the U.S. continues to rank first among nations in both prison and jail population and per capita rates.

As the report points out, this unprecedented rate of incarceration is a relatively new phenomenon in U.S. history. America’s prison population exploded largely as a result of the failed drug war policies of the last 40 years.

The report, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and the MacArthur Foundation, documents how the drug war has contributed to the skyrocketing U.S prison population and the staggering costs associated with mass incarceration.

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