Eric Holder and the immoral costs of incarceration

The Mandatory Minimum Sentence is a terrible policy. It has ruined countless lives by taking context, humanity, and good judgment out of our drug enforcement. Without context, humanity, and good judgment, we have created a prison industry that houses more injustice than I can possibly begin to express in this post.

Eric Holder seems to be aware of this problem. Addressing the harsh sentencing reality of the Mandatory Minimum Sentence, Holder said:

“Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable. It imposes a significant economic burden — totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone — and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”

That last phrase is the real cause to take note.

The incarceration rates in the US are simply indefensible. Our drug enforcement policies are a stain on our nation. And the incarceration that results from enforcement of our drug policies ends too many lives before they can begin, by attaching preposterously long prison sentences to non-violent, low-level drug offenses. The circle is a moral stain on a nation that should do better for our own, even for our criminals.

Hopefully Eric Holder can start, at least START, to slow the tides of incarceration that have cost a generation of men and women (though, chiefly black men) their futures.

Illegal drug use is a terrible problem. But our drug policies and our prison industry are cause for outrage. These are policies that lead to longer sentences for being ASSOCIATED with a single drug sale than for trying to set off a bomb in Times Square, then you’re not looking hard enough.


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