Commentary

NC Policy Watch Policy Prescription #9: Expanding opportunities for justice within the criminal justice system

As the 2018 legislative session gets underway in earnest in this, its first full week, we hope you will continue reading our special series “Policy Prescriptions” researched and written by A. J. Fletcher Foundation Fellow Samone Oates-Bullock. Last week, Prescription #1 addressed food insecurity in North Carolina. Prescription #2 took on the issue of early childhood investments. Prescription #3 analyzed the challenge of funding school adequately and fairly. Policy Prescription #4 called for racial equity in education. Policy Prescription #5 called for tackling the issue of environmental racism in North Carolina. Prescription #6 made the case closing the Medicaid coverage gap. Prescription #7 urged lawmakers to make North Carolina more worker-friendly. Yesterday, Prescription #8 called for new and transformative investments in affordable housing.

Today, the focus is on tackling the issue of second chances for those who have run afoul of the criminal justice system. The following is from Policy Prescription #9 – “Creating second chances: Expanding opportunities for justice within the criminal justice system”:

“While the U.S. crime rate has dropped steadily since its peak in the 1990’s, incarceration rates have continued to rise at an alarming pace. For this reason, the United States now accounts for almost a quarter of the world’s prison population while representing less than five percent of the total world population. The inconsistencies between crime and punishment highlight only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to incarcerating more people than any other country in the world, today’s justice system disproportionately targets and incarcerates African Americans. As of 2018, the U.S. population is 12.6 percent African American and 73.3 percent white; whereas the prison population is 37.9 percent African American and 58.4 percent white . This trend of widespread and disproportionate imprisonment has had detrimental impacts on our economy, communities, and the quality of life for people with criminal records. The fight for second chances is undoubtedly complex, but recognizes the need for a justice system that places rehabilitation, reentry, and morality at the forefront of its operations.”

Click here to read the entire report.

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