10 Things (+1) to Reduce Incarceration

Always watchful for alternatives to the "out-of-sight, out-of-mind," "eye-for-an-eye" indifference toward the prison system and those trapped in it, I recently came across law professor Paul Butler's list of ten things the everyday person can do to reduce incarceration, published for The Nation. Here is an abbreviated version of his recommendations:
1. When serving jury duty, acquit on principle (jury nullification) when it comes to non-violent drug offenses.
2. Work with a community group that pays at-risk students to graduate. Turns out money talks louder than the toughest sentencing.
3. Speak openly about your own drug use to counter the reefer-madness stereotype.
4. Employ someone who served time. Chances are much greater that they won't return to jail.
5. Vote for politicians who realize that longer, tougher jail sentences do not equate to lower crime rates. Compare the U.S. to Canada, France, and England.
6. Don't be scared. Enact your right to say no to police when they ask to search your vehicle.
7. Urge a stop to professional snitching. More than half of wrongful convictions have been attributed to people paid to testify.
8. Realize that most dealers live at home, and could find a much more lucrative career in a trade.
9. Support "Open Discovery" laws, which allow criminal defendants to "discover" the evidence against them.
10. Learn about the communities most affected by the prison system by listening to political hip-hop.
I would add to this list: Support community garden programs that work with prison inmates. For instance, Grid Magazine recently ran a feature about the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Harvest program, which works with the Philadelphia Prison System, food distribution network SHARE, and the Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The program offers people convicted of non-violent crimes the opportunity to lparticipate in the city gardens. The food they harvest is then distributed to neighborhoods in the city that often do not have access to fresh fruit and vegetables. The program promotes the idea that through cooperation and responsibility, people will learn invaluable life skills.

Read Paul Butler's article here.
Access Grid Magazine's article here.

Image Credit: PA Horticultural Society's Philadelphia Green
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:10 AM

    Interesting list of things to do, and I especially like the one you added at the end. The community gardening movement continues to grow and shows real promise at creating community and bringing people from diverse backgrounds together on common ground.


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