An end to mass incarceration in the United States

An end to mass incarceration in the United States

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When the call for an end to mass incarceration doesn’t make sense.

As of right now Chicago has experienced, 489 shootings for the month of August, 84 have been ruled homicides.

This brings the number of shootings in Chicago this year to 2,858.

This weekend just so happens to be a holiday weekend which tend to prove pretty deadly in Chicago. Chicago is 142 shootings away from hitting 3,000 shootings this year.

That’s not a lot when you look at the first 10 days of the year, Chicago experienced 120 shootings. That was winter and this is summer, more people and guns are out.

Dwyane Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge was gunned down in cold blood on Friday afternoon while pushing her baby in a stroller. Dwyane Wade happens to be a guard for the Chicago Bulls, his dream come true was to play for the Chicago Bulls, he is from Chicago.

Now a beloved member of his family was murdered because she ended up in the crossfire of gang members who wanted to shoot someone else.

So forget gun laws, they are not working in Chicago, gang members don’t purchase guns legally anyway. What about the existing criminal laws on the books that are clearly not enforced?

Laws that could have prevented Nykea’s murder.

The two men arrested for Nykea’s murder were according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, out on parole, not probation, parole, one of the two was out on parole on an existing gun charge.

Darwin and Darren Sorrells have multiple priors and don’t really seem to give a shit about things like the law, life, women, children, nothing.

Had Chicago’s judicial system actually enforced the current laws and sentenced each according to the crimes they had committed prior, neither of these men would have been out of prison and would never have had the opportunity to murder Nykea or anyone for that matter.

In a day and age where I hear non-stop talk about mass incarceration, I have to wonder are we honestly seeing the whole picture? Yes, great we get some stories where a petty marijuana dealer who received a rather long sentence, but is that the entire story?  Are we asking for the right thing clearly or is it to generalized?

In truth we do not truly have a mass incarceration issue within the prison system. Our prison systems are not loaded with your typical stoner, hippies or petty shoplifters, the mentally ill, and pretty much basically non-violent drug offenders.

Darwin Sorrells had been sentenced to 6 years in prison in back in January 2013 on a gun charge and he was released early on parole.

Derren Sorrells is a known gang member who also happens to be on parole for motor vehicle theft and escape. He absconded from justice, hence the escape charge?!?!?

Early release and parole for two men who more than showed the legal system they had absolutely no intention of abiding by the law let alone the rules of parole.

When are we going to learn that the while the judicial system is unfair to some, to others it is too lenient.

Repeat offenders and violent offenders should have no early release and no good time. In fact they should be sentenced more accordingly to the crimes they have committed. Violent offenders should never be afforded any graces.

I dated a former violent offender once, I didn’t know it at the time but I can tell you this firsthand, they are great at manipulating and telling counselors, therapists, parole officers, prison guards and family members just what they need too, so that they can fly right under the radar yet continue to commit crimes without the benefit of getting caught.

Don’t ever kid yourself into thinking the majority of these guys will reform, they won’t, they do not want to change. Given the opportunity to continue with the behavior that landed them in prison, they will continue to break the law.

For most violent offenders they have no regard for any law whatsoever.

Confusion comes into play when looking at the numbers for the so called mass incarcerated because people more often than not don’t truly understand the difference between jail and prison.

They are in fact, believe it or not different by definition. The two biggest differences are, length of stay and jail’s are typically run by local law enforcement agencies.

So you can have misdemeanor offenders, felons and federal prisoners all housed in the same jail at the same time for different types of charges. They can be already sentenced or awaiting bail or a court date.

Some states will keep a felon in jail rather than transport the prisoner to prison if the felon’s sentence is a year or less. Some might keep the them longer or for less time. It depends on the state.

In quite a few cases a prisoner in jail will be charged with a felony then the DA will bargain the charges down so someone just lost his job, his home etc while awaiting a court date because he couldn’t bond out. Which by the way happens to be a judicial system problem.

Because of the confusion of where a prisoner is housed and the type of crime committed, I believe that many individuals including the media are vastly confused over the idea of mass incarceration. I too often hear the media refer to jail as prison. It’s not and the media should not refer to a jail as a prison.

According to Fordham University School of Law, professor John Pfaff, who studied the 1980’s-2000’s, he learned that more than half of the extra or added prisoners were in fact violent offenders.

He says that of that “only about a 5th of prison inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses, only a sliver of those are in for marijuana. While many of these incarcerated drug offenders have prior convictions for violent crimes. The median state prisoner serves roughly 2 years before being released; 3 quarters are released within roughly 6 years.”

The other key issue is repeat offenders, sometimes while out on bail an offender will be charged with another crime and if the court does not see the newer crime they simply cannot sentence someone accordingly.

Sometimes a court will know about it and choose not to “deal” with it hoping another judge will see it and do something about, sometimes they don’t even care if the other judge will “deal” with it.

Mass incarceration though, the numbers that everyone continues to toss out, the stories, none of that speaks the truth.

When we talk about things like mass incarceration, we have to draw a distinctly clear line for our elected leaders so that they can understand what we are talking about.

Are we saying that we feel too many people are arrested for laws on the books that no longer make sense like laws with regards to marijuana or are we talking about crimes that are violent in nature?

Are we talking about Betty who didn’t pay her traffic fine, court costs or the like who was arrested and thrown in jail for a week or two and ended up losing her job and still can’t pay the fines?

Are we talking about someone who was arrested for the 4th time on a DUI charge in a state that doesn’t charge a 4th time offender as a felon and couldn’t post bail?

Are we talking about someone who was picked up for being a public nuisance while intoxicated, jailed for a few days because they couldn’t post bond then fined beyond their means, and sentenced to classes they really don’t need?

The point is, we need to clear up what it is we are asking for and expect in return, you can’t just toss something out like “end mass incarceration” and expect a result, it doesn’t work that way.

When I look at cases like the Sorrells brother’s who murdered an innocent bystander, her murder was absolutely preventable if they had been appropriately sentenced and not out on parole.

Mass incarceration means different things to different people, it means different things for different reasons and on different levels.

We must be clear about what it is we want from our Government.

Mass incarceration is not the bigger issue, judicial reform is. Holding non-violent offenders without bond for a charge that will be plea bargained down anyway is cruel and punishment enough.

Allowing two violent offenders out early without having had half a chance to pay for the crimes they committed is a call for Judicial Reform at all levels.

Cristal M Clark

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