National Alliance for Prisoners Rights  2017 National Alliance for Prisoners Rights Depressed Prisoner Imprisoned abused black man, African American Crying, depressed inmate woman
America’s Shameful “Secret Epidemic” There is an epidemic in America in our day, an epidemic which is costing millions of people their lives and all Americans millions of wasted dollars. This epidemic is a rampant “justice” system which has steam rolled out of control and which is not defined by the word “justice.” The United States has the highest incarceration rate per capita - that is, imprisoned people versus the entire country’s population - than any other country in the world. We have “more of our people” in prison than anyone else - more than Russia, North Korea, and China combined. More than Mexico with its well-known violent crime and drug cartels. More than Iran. More than South Africa during the height of apartheid, More than any third world country. More than anyone. Does the United States have the “worst” people or the “worst criminals” who somehow “deserve” this ridiculously high number? Any reasonable person should see that this is not the case.  How can we justify this and do nothing? With 5% of the world's population and more than 25% of the world's prisoners, there are now more than 2.3 million people in prison and upwards of 7 million either on parole, probation or awaiting trial. One in every 33 people in the United States is under state control and that number is still increasing. The economic burden on our society due to this epidemic is tremendous while the loss of potential of all these incarcerated people, members of society, is wasted. Over the course of a year 13.5 million people spend time in jail or prison and 95 percent eventually are released. Many individuals with diagnosed medical and mental conditions are inappropriately incarcerated. Texas recently struck down a bill that would have prohibited the death penalty for mentally deficient people. Most of the imprisoned in the United States are poor, and they are disproportionately African-American and Latino, while the LGBT community sees an incarceration right that is an amazing three times higher than the “general population.” Lesbians make up over 40% of women in prison. Unfortunately, a great deal of abuse, mistreatment and violation of rights takes place due to this “system” we have allowed to get out of control, particularly among minorities.  While there are certainly violent criminals and repeat offenders who must legitimately be incarcerated long-term, this trend of excessive incarceration and excessive long-term incarceration results in millions of people who are not violent or repeat offenders housed with prisoners who abuse, mistreat, physically attack, rape and in some cases kill them. There is a very high rate of disease and illness, untreated conditions, and even suicide among inmates. Some prisons supply one doctor to handle the health care needs of 5000 or more inmates. Much of the abuse comes at the hands of the “keepers” - the guards, wardens and workers who often believe it is their job (or right) to “punish” the inmates. If inmates complain they face harassment and retribution from corrections officers. Violation of basic human rights should never be an issue for the imprisoned, yet there are constant abuses. Abuse is never any part of anyone’s sentence. Often young people enter the prison system after a making a mistake and come out after years as trained criminals. This benefits no one. The prison system has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy and there is pressure to maintain a level of prisoner occupancy. Nearly 5,000 adult prisons and jails exist across the United States. Approximately 750,000 men and women work in U.S. Correctional facilities as guards, line officers or other staff. Unfortunately, economically deprived areas of the country are faced with growing pressure to accept the construction of new facilities in their region in order to provide jobs. This creates a vicious cycle. What is more, recent years has seen a growing trend toward the privatization of correctional facilities. With focus on profit, there is an increase in the rate of violence and a resultant lowering of standards. Turning corrections into “business” rather than a government service is an illogical and erroneous approach as anyone with common sense can see. Treatment of prisoners continues to decline and abuse to increase, all for the goal of profit. One might think that with the incredibly high incarceration rate as well as the over 3000 people on death row - if the system worked that is - there would be a direct, resultant decrease in crime, but that is not the case. The system simply does not work. Being “tough” on crime is a political tool for those who want to get or stay in power. The U.S. has a long history of a “culture of violence,” individualism with revenge and popular support for the death penalty. But the truth is that while this is used to win elections, it does nothing to control crime, costs untold millions, solves nothing and ruins lives. Prison is not an opportunity for “revenge” for victims and families - it is a time for the inmate to be separated from general society and thus to “pay for his or her crime” while learning new behavior and thinking so that they will be fit to rejoin society at a later time. It has been repeatedly proven both in special programs in the United States as well as through penal systems elsewhere that the most productive method of “justice” is one where sentences are moderate and prison is a tool for rehabilitation and a chance for inmates to be taught new skills, new ways of thinking and reacting, and given an opportunity to atone and give back. Does it work in all cases? Nothing works in all cases, but the drop in recidivism using these strategies (recidivism: the chance that an inmate will end up again in prison) drops drastically where these methods are used. We must come together as Americans to see the error and great injustice of our system and we must fight it together. First we have to become educated as a nation so that we can see that our current path is not the right one - and we must stop believing in the rhetoric fed to us by our politicians,  a myth about being “tough on crime” that is meant to elicit exactly what it is designed to, what it does: an emotional and irrational response, not a logical and intelligent one that will reduce our monstrous prison system to acceptable manageable proportions, that will stop unnecessarily ruining and taking lives, and that will remove this massive economic burden from all of us.
Silenced woman tape on mouth, shushing about secret of American prisoner abuse

“You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.”   -Fyodor Dostoevsky

Logo for NAPR National Alliance for Prisoners Rights NAPR is a registered 501(C)3 nonprofit organization
NAPR

“Prisoner Abuse is NEVER part of anyone’s sentence.”

distraught inmate, black man, African American prisoner
National Alliance for Prisoners Rights  2017 National Alliance for Prisoners Rights Depressed Prisoner
America’s Shameful “Secret Epidemic” There is an epidemic in America in our day, an epidemic which is costing millions of people their lives and all Americans millions of wasted dollars. This epidemic is a rampant “justice” system which has steam rolled out of control and which is not defined by the word “justice.” The United States has the highest incarceration rate per capita - that is, imprisoned people versus the entire country’s population - than any other country in the world. We have “more of our people” in prison than anyone else - more than Russia, North Korea, and China combined. More than Mexico with its well-known violent crime and drug cartels. More than Iran. More than South Africa during the height of apartheid, More than any third world country. More than anyone. Does the United States have the “worst” people or the “worst criminals” who somehow “deserve” this ridiculously high number? Any reasonable person should see that this is not the case.  How can we justify this and do nothing? With 5% of the world's population and more than 25% of the world's prisoners, there are now more than 2.3 million people in prison and upwards of 7 million either on parole, probation or awaiting trial. One in every 33 people in the United States is under state control and that number is still increasing. The economic burden on our society due to this epidemic is tremendous while the loss of potential of all these incarcerated people, members of society, is wasted. Over the course of a year 13.5 million people spend time in jail or prison and 95 percent eventually are released. Many individuals with diagnosed medical and mental conditions are inappropriately incarcerated. Texas recently struck down a bill that would have prohibited the death penalty for mentally deficient people. Most of the imprisoned in the United States are poor, and they are disproportionately African-American and Latino, while the LGBT community sees an incarceration right that is an amazing three times higher than the “general population.” Lesbians make up over 40% of women in prison. Unfortunately, a great deal of abuse, mistreatment and violation of rights takes place due to this “system” we have allowed to get out of control, particularly among minorities.  While there are certainly violent criminals and repeat offenders who must legitimately be incarcerated long-term, this trend of excessive incarceration and excessive long- term incarceration results in millions of people who are not violent or repeat offenders housed with prisoners who abuse, mistreat, physically attack, rape and in some cases kill them. There is a very high rate of disease and illness, untreated conditions, and even suicide among inmates. Some prisons supply one doctor to handle the health care needs of 5000 or more inmates. Much of the abuse comes at the hands of the “keepers” - the guards, wardens and workers who often believe it is their job (or right) to “punish” the inmates. If inmates complain they face harassment and retribution from corrections officers. Violation of basic human rights should never be an issue for the imprisoned, yet there are constant abuses. Abuse is never any part of anyone’s sentence. Often young people enter the prison system after a making a mistake and come out after years as trained criminals. This benefits no one. The prison system has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy and there is pressure to maintain a level of prisoner occupancy. Nearly 5,000 adult prisons and jails exist across the United States. Approximately 750,000 men and women work in U.S. Correctional facilities as guards, line officers or other staff. Unfortunately, economically deprived areas of the country are faced with growing pressure to accept the construction of new facilities in their region in order to provide jobs. This creates a vicious cycle. What is more, recent years has seen a growing trend toward the privatization of correctional facilities. With focus on profit, there is an increase in the rate of violence and a resultant lowering of standards. Turning corrections into “business” rather than a government service is an illogical and erroneous approach as anyone with common sense can see. Treatment of prisoners continues to decline and abuse to increase, all for the goal of profit. One might think that with the incredibly high incarceration rate as well as the over 3000 people on death row - if the system worked that is - there would be a direct, resultant decrease in crime, but that is not the case. The system simply does not work. Being “tough” on crime is a political tool for those who want to get or stay in power. The U.S. has a long history of a “culture of violence,” individualism with revenge and popular support for the death penalty. But the truth is that while this is used to win elections, it does nothing to control crime, costs untold millions, solves nothing and ruins lives. Prison is not an opportunity for “revenge” for victims and families - it is a time for the inmate to be separated from general society and thus to “pay for his or her crime” while learning new behavior and thinking so that they will be fit to rejoin society at a later time. It has been repeatedly proven both in special programs in the United States as well as through penal systems elsewhere that the most productive method of “justice” is one where sentences are moderate and prison is a tool for rehabilitation and a chance for inmates to be taught new skills, new ways of thinking and reacting, and given an opportunity to atone and give back. Does it work in all cases? Nothing works in all cases, but the drop in recidivism using these strategies (recidivism: the chance that an inmate will end up again in prison) drops drastically where these methods are used. We must come together as Americans to see the error and great injustice of our system and we must fight it together. First we have to become educated as a nation so that we can see that our current path is not the right one - and we must stop believing in the rhetoric fed to us by our politicians,  a myth about being “tough on crime” that is meant to elicit exactly what it is designed to, what it does: an emotional and irrational response, not a logical and intelligent one that will reduce our monstrous prison system to acceptable manageable proportions, that will stop unnecessarily ruining and taking lives, and that will remove this massive economic burden from all of us.

“You can judge a society by how well it

treats its prisoners.”   -Fyodor Dostoevsky

Logo for NAPR National Alliance for Prisoners Rights
NAPR
NAPR is a registered 501(C)3 nonprofit organization Imprisoned abused black man, African American Crying, depressed inmate woman Silenced woman tape on mouth, shushing about secret of American prisoner abuse distraught inmate, black man, African American prisoner