Report Offers Ways to Reduce Jail, Prison Populations in NC
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
The U.S. prison population has grown nearly 500% since the start of mass incarceration 50 years ago and now, reform advocates are calling for its end in North Carolina and across the country.
Nearly 130,000 people NC figures are booked into jail each year in North Carolina. New research from The Sentencing Project offers strategies to end mass incarceration and ensure public safety without over-policing or 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, so it is time to explore ways to keep more 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 explained they are calling on lawmakers and communities to expand opportunities for young people, through programs to promote employment and leadership. Porter stressed the report offers some real-world examples of how addressing the root causes of crime with social interventions can lead to a safer and more equitable future.
Porter noted locking people up disproportionately affects people of color and their communities. To break the cycle, she emphasized the importance of collaboration on all fronts.
"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 added. "And build out solutions that are beyond policing and beyond criminalization."
The report also stressed the urgency of making these changes. It showed despite a 25% decrease in prison population since the peak of mass incarceration in 2009, achieving earlier levels could still take as much as 75 years.
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