If you haven't seen the report, be sure and read Adam Liptak's piece, "Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations" that appeared in The New York Times on Wednesday, April 23, 2008. Here's the opening paragraph:
"The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but almost a quarter of its prisoners. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations."
I plan to work through more of the content here in the near future.
If you want to read the full report, go to:
But for today, consider my friend Frank.
Years ago, Frank was arrested for burglary of a building. Bad mistake.
He served time for his felony, including a fairly long period of probation which he completed in 2002--six years ago. Since that time, Frank has not had so much as a parking ticket. He has been clean. Never arrested again. No problems with law enforcement of any kind.
Problem is Frank still can't lease an apartment or get a job or function as a productive member of our community because of a mistake he made over a decade ago.
He is stuck.
He's been "living" out behind one of our buildings for some time now. Homeless. No where to go.
Until now. . .he moved into one of our apartments yesterday, thanks to our staff and members of our AmeriCorps team.
He has been working on obtaining Social Security disability due to several rather severe and chronic health issues, including congestive heart failure to name just one of the most serious issues. Life on the street leads down this health path so often. He recently received those benefits.
Frank's case reveals that our criminal justice system is not working, not if we want to maximize productivity among those who really want to do better with their lives.
Read The New York Times' article.
But, more importantly, don't forget Frank.
He has lots of company out there today.