Well not much new, but a lot of wrong things still going on. For example, here we are in 2014 and we still have a huge disparity in sentencings in drug cases and in cases where children are harmed. There are much tougher rules for both in Federal courts. Sad but true.
Federal courts still have mandatory minimums on what can be simple drug cases, and much harsher penalties on anything having to do with children. So, it’s a true mixed bag.
What I do know is that one can “program” easier in State prison and be released much earlier than in Federal Prison. This again hardly seems fair.
And of course both have almost no help for people who need real re-entry assistance. We must start here so that people stop going back for silly reasons. Our prisons are full of people who could have served creative alternative sentences that would help both the offender and society. Remember, almost everybody incarcerated today is coming home and most in less than 5 years. A sobering thought at best.
It is 2014 and the time to change is NOW. It is not that complicated a system that we cannot change it. But, we need to understand it first. Prison is BIG money and the fewer people in prison the less money made by the Prison industrial complex. This too must change and will.
There are plenty of people who do belong in prison, but let’s work on those who can change and be rehabilitated first, This will actually make room for the people who belong there.
Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director of the Alternative Sentencing Program at Cliffside Malibu. She is available for private consultation on how to prepare for a successful incarceration, probation and re-entry. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared in the media on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News, People.com,US Magazine, Perez Hilton, Fox News, NBC News, BBC, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network ID and others. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org