Report Explores Ways to End Mass Incarceration in AL
Thursday, September 14, 2023
After 50 years of mass incarceration, the U.S. prison population has grown nearly 500% and now advocates are calling for its end in Alabama and across the country.
A Sentencing Project report, "Safety Beyond Sentencing," offers actionable solutions to end mass incarceration and ensure public safety without over-policing and extreme sentencing.
Nicole Porter, senior director of advocacy for The Sentencing Project and the report's co-author, said imprisonment alone has not led to safer communities and argued it is time to explore ways to keep people out of the justice system.
"The calls to action include more holistic responses to crisis response violence interruption and crisis intervention programs," Porter outlined. "As well as addressing the drug war through a public health response to drug use and substance use disorder."
In addition, she pointed out they are also calling on lawmakers and communities to expand opportunities for youths with programs promoting job employment and leadership. Porter emphasized the report helps provide real world examples of how addressing the root cause of crime with social interventions can lead to safer and more equitable future.
In Alabama, the rate of arrests is higher than the national average, affecting more than 90,000 individuals within the justice system. Such disproportionality specifically affects people of color and their communities. To break the ongoing cycle, Porter stressed the importance of collaboration on all fronts to prevent another 50 years of the same cycle.
"The Sentencing Project hopes to collaborate and partner with others around the country who are moved by the focus of the report to really support alternatives to incarceration," Porter noted. "And build out solutions that are beyond policing and beyond criminalization."
Porter added the report arrives at a crucial juncture where criminal justice reform cannot be delayed any further. The report showed despite a 25% decrease in prison population since the peak of mass incarceration in 2009, achieving pre-mass incarceration levels could still take 75 years at the current rate.
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