History students across the country grow up learning that the United States of America is “the land of the free” but what they aren’t being taught is that the US is also the land of the harshly punished and overly incarcerated as well. Currently, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the WORLD with an incarceration rate that has increased by 500 percent over the past 40 years. A closer look at how harsh the US is when it comes to punishment, one would find that 1 out 7 individuals incarcerated is serving a life sentence; that is a whooping 314,000 people that will spend significant portions of their lives locked down in a jail cell like an animal.
Why are we locking down men and women (primarily of color) at the highest rates of the world, separating families, and destroying communities? Because the United States is addicted to punishment. According to the Prison Policy Institute, “around the globe, governments respond to illegal activity and social unrest in many ways. Here in the United States, policymakers in the 1970s made the decision to start incarcerating Americans at globally unprecedented rates. The decades that followed have revealed that the growth in the U.S. prison population can be more closely attributed to ideological policy choices than actual crime rates. The record also shows that our country’s experiment with mass incarceration has not managed to significantly enhance public safety, but instead has consistently and disproportionately stunted the social and economic wellbeing of poor communities and communities of color for generations.”
There are twelve steps to curing an addiction that the United States must prescribe to immediately to stop this tortuous, destructive, and costly behavior:
Written by: Sasha Legette