THE NEED FOR CHANGE IS NOW
COMPLETE PICTURE BENEFITS THE LIVES OF COUNTLESS MEN & WOMEN WHO ARE FACING
YEARS OF INCARCERATION
Today, people of color make up 37% of the U.S. population but 67% of the prison population. Overall, African-Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted, and once convicted they are more likely to face stiff sentences.
One out of every 100 African-American women in the U.S. is now incarcerated, nearly three times the rate for women overall. Add to this the fact that non-violent and drug offenses comprise the vast majority of the prison population, and it becomes clear that we, as a nation, have a huge problem.
Why do we, as a society, lock up more of our citizens than any other country? One could easily follow the money and point to the increased privatization of prisons as a factor. And mandatory minimum sentencing — is it working to decrease the crimes for which it was intended? But why, specifically, do we lock up disproportionately more of our citizens of color for non-violent crimes, unfairly and irreparably destroying individuals, their families, and their communities? Pronouncements by the ACLU and politicians that we must end systemic racism by striking at its roots in society are important sentiments, but tend to be vague in their ability to affect real change, right here, right now.