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Law and disorder

John Jay College releases findings about U.S. incarceration crisis

By WITW Staff on May 6, 2015

On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s call to “end the era of mass incarceration” last week, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice has presented its findings from last fall’s American Justice Summit. The report highlights alarming trends in the American justice system and aims to rally for immediate reform. Some of the figures presented in the report are eye-opening: currently more than 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated; one in 100 American adults are behind bars; and the U.S. spends $50 billion per year on corrections. “Moving the Needle on Justice Reform” is a collation of the recommendations from people deeply involved with crime—on the streets, in the police precincts, in the courtrooms and legislatures, in the prisons and probation services: NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, author Piper Kerman, activist Harry Belafonte, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Equal Justice Initiative Director, Bryan Stevenson.

The comprehensive findings address everyday issues such as sentencing, solitary confinement, rehabilitation, community policing, and drug arrests. Jeremy Travis, the president of John Jay, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday to discuss the report and its findings. Travis described Clinton’s speech last week as a turning point in the social and bipartisan political consciousness surrounding problems with the justice system. “It’s noteworthy that in her first major domestic policy address of her presidential campaign, she chose criminal justice as the topic,” Travis told Mika Brzezinski. Travis went on to explain what led to some of the startling figures in the report. “The American reality of this era is that we have quadrupled the rate of incarceration in this country over the past 40 years,” he explained. “We done that through policy choices — we’ve kept people in prison longer, we’ve established mandatory minimums, we launched a War on Drugs — and the result is this new reality of one in 100 adults in prison or jail. We’ve never been here before. No other country has ever been here before,” Travis said. “It’s a heavy hand on our poor communities, particularly communities of color.”

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Read the full report at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice website and watch the segment from Morning Joe above or right here.