Mass Incarceration and criminal justice reform is currently “on topic” right now and rightly so. It is time Americans become aware of the true travesty that is taking place in this country. It is to our shame that we incarcerate more of our own people than any other nation in the world. These are our people. Prison doesn’t just impact the person incarcerated. It also has an impact on children, spouses, parents, siblings, other family members, and friends.
Since the early 1970s, the nation’s prison population has quadrupled to 2.2 million, and more than half of the inmates currently incarcerated are serving time for nonviolent crimes and/or drug-related crimes. Approximately 159,000 people are serving life sentences with nearly a third of them without the possibility of parole. These people will die in prison.
Prisons are big business. Do not kid yourself. And they are paid for by the American taxpayer – that means YOU. According to a report produced by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, prisons cost $80 billion a year in direct corrections expenses. If you include police, judicial, and legal services that number increases to more than a quarter-trillion dollars.
The truly sad part of this is that while these men and women sit in prison, they will not receive any type of help in coping or self-management skills, they will not be treated for their addictions or mental illness. For most of them, their condition and the mindsets that landed them in prison will not change. In fact, for most inmates their outlooks about life and their own success worsen with incarceration. It is rare to meet someone that really wants to improve in prison – especially when they are given life sentences with no reason to improve and no hope of release.
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about...Lenny Singleton (shown in the profile pic).
Lenny committed a series of "grab & dash" robberies in a one week period while high on alcohol and crack to fund his addiction. He did not have a gun. He did not murder anyone. In fact, no one was even physically injured and no one claimed to be his "victim." He stole less than $550 total and these were his first felonies. He wasn't an habitual criminal or part of a gang. He earned a college degree and served in our Navy before his addiction.
What he needed was some help with his addiction. What he got was 2 Life Sentences plus 100 years with no chance at parole. The judge, without any explanation to Lenny as documented by his court transcripts, sentenced Lenny to more time than repeat violent offenders, rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Murderers will walk free while Lenny remains in prison. Lenny would be the first to tell you that he needed to do some time – that is why he plead guilty – but he did not need to have his life completely taken from him.
While in prison, Lenny works every business day in a position of authority, he lives in the Honor's Dorm, he takes every available class for self-improvement offered, and in his spare time, he has co-authored a book to help others headed down the same path called, "Love Conquers All," now available on Amazon. During the entire 21 years he has been in prison, he has not received a single infraction for anything - very rare for lifers. Lenny is deserving of a second chance.
Taxpayers will pay well over a million dollars to keep Lenny for the rest of his life - for robbing less than $550 in crimes where no one was physically injured - this makes absolutely no sense on any level. That money would be better spent on rehabilitation services, preventative education or rebuilding infrastructures - anything other than keeping one man, who has already been in prison for 21 years, who didn't physically injure anyone, who is deserving of a second chance, locked up for life.
These types of cases exist all over this country like the story of the man in this article and like Lenny , albeit, that Lenny Singleton's case is possibly one of the worst illustrating sentencing disparity and sentences disproportionate to the crime committed. In fact his sentence was so heinous that his story ran on the front page of The New York Times on July 4th, 2016. You can read the article here…http://nyti.ms/29ik8sY
And here is another article referring to Lenny on AlterNet, http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/there-talk-prison-reform-150000-people-jail-life-there-no-reform-horizon
Please learn more and sign Lenny Singleton's petition at http://www.justice4lenny.org
Justice will not have been served if Lenny dies in prison.
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