To the Editor:
A devastating condition of gross injustice exists among us, but it is hidden without much notice – so this is a wake up call to all of us. Criminal law enforcement, especially on laws regarding illegal drugs, and imprisonment have become big business in our country.
Court sentencing is zealous, especially, again, disproportionate for blacks, who make up a disproportionately large percentage of our prison population. So much for the War on Drugs, which began in the 1980s.
America has the largest rate of imprisonment of any major industrial country, efforts at rehabilitation are a joke, and recidivism is too high. Private investors see profits in building more prisons, leasing them to the state, and then waiting for the courts to fill them up!
To add to the misery, former offenders have lost rights such as employment, access to public housing, jury duty, and voting to name only a few. This condition hurts all of us and flies in the face of progress and justice.
States should repeal unjust and outdated felon disenfranchisement laws. For more, we strongly recommend a reading of Michelle Alexander’s New York Times Best Seller, “The New Jim Crow,” and visit a website such as www.dailykos.com/campaigns. Fortunately, a small political movement is building to reduce mandatory minimums for federal drug charges and give judges more discretion in sentencing. Offenders who have served their time ask: “When have we paid our debt?”