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The Justice Imperative: How Hyper-Incarceration Has Hijacked The American Dream

by Brian E. Moran and Malta Justice Initiative
Significance Press (Aug 18, 2014)
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The U.S. has become the world’s leading jailer, housing 22.4% of the world’s inmates, but has only 4.6% of its population. Myth: The staggering, budget-breaking price tag of this hyper-incarceration is justified by our low crime rates. Reality: Connecticut’s prison population has soared from 3,800 to 17,000 since 1980, mostly with non-violent drug users. Annual spending on prisons now exceeds $1 billion at $51,000/year to house each inmate. Yet, hyper- incarceration has a negligible impact on public safety. Over 95% of Connecticut’s prisoners are eventually released, most without adequate supervision, and ill-equipped to succeed on the outside. Well over half end up back in prison. We need to stop this revolving door. The state’s failure to rehabilitate its offenders exacts an enormous cost on our state budget and a devastating human toll that is crippling our cities. The current system is not sustainable. The Justice Imperative: Reforms in states like Texas and Oregon demonstrate that Connecticut can slash costs, lower recidivism, increase public safety and create better and more productive lives for ex-offenders and their families.

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