Everyone’s watching Florida right now. Trayvon Martin’s death was the result of overzealous and irrational public safety policy (Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law”). Something similar is happening in Massachusetts. State senators and representatives, increasingly focused on getting re-elected, are using a “3 Strikes” bill to show they are “tough on crime.” In fact, there is no evidence that habitual offender and mandatory sentencing laws reduce crime. Instead, this bill will exacerbate the problem of overcrowded prisons, and cost taxpayers a fortune. The Black and Latino Legislative Caucus unanimously opposes the legislation, while almost every other senator and representative has voted for it–such that the bill may be “veto proof” when it arrives on the Governor’s desk.
No other industrialized democracy warehouses people–the very people that should be the engine of our economy–on this scale. It’s a phenomenon Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow” in her popular new book.
For more background check out:
- The good work being done on this issue by Arise, EPOCA, The Prison Policy Initiative, Blackstonian, and Neighbor to Neighbor
- A WGBY Connecting Point segment with Steve O’Neill, Elsie Sanchez, Roderick Anderson, and Paul Wagner (below).
- A group of talented young men in Springfield who just released their album, “Mass Incarceration” (audio player at very top of this post).