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"Some so-called criminals -- and I use this word because it's handy, it means nothing to me -- I speak of the criminals who get caught as distinguished from the criminals who catch them--some of these so-called criminals are in jail for their first offenses, but nine tenths of you are in jail because you did not have a good lawyer and, of course, you did not have a good lawyer because you did not have enough money to pay a good lawyer. There is no very great danger of a rich man going to jail."-- Clarence S. Darrow, Speech to inmates at Cook County Jail, 1902

The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 7.2 million men and women under correctional supervision; including five million on probation or parole and 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated in prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and state governments being overwhelmed by the burden of funding a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not the most effective means of achieving public safety. -- The Sentencing Project

Prison Count 2010: State population declines for the first time in 38 years, the number of US state prisoners declined, according to the Pew Center on the States.  As of January 2010, there were 1,404,053* persons under the jurisdiction of state prison authorities, 4,777* fewer than on December 31, 2008. 

Bipartisan Justice-- Fixing America's punitive penal system has politicians crossing party lines

Smarter Punishment, Less Crime -- Why reducing incarceration and victimization should be complementary goals.

Our moral and ethical duty to end mass incarceration -- $68 billion is spent annually on local, state, and federal corrections systems. This has transformed American society by removing a disproportionate number of nonviolent minority offenders from their communities while diverting taxpayer money from critical social programs.

Mental health professionals or advocates use "jail diversion" when the criminal justice system refers an individual for mental health system treatment, even under the supervision of the criminal justice system. For criminal justice professionals, diversion can be an exemption from criminal justice supervision in exchange for participation in a community-based treatment program. Some prosecutors, judges and law enforcement officials are concerned a policy shift focused on jail diversion may have on public safety (andpolitical risks) and may be wary of anything labeled "jail diversion."

The Fair Sentencing Act is expected to benefit 3,000 defendants a year, with an average sentence reduction of twenty-seven months. Defendants convicted of possessing five grams of crack or less—the weight of two pennies—will no longer receive a mandatory five years in prison.

Is the U.S. Ready for Human Rights? Mere Justice The drive to punishment is making us forget that prisoners have a right to be heard. Yes Magazine Defense attorneys, legal scholars, and a judge discuss the moral, judicial and constitutional implications of a justice system that relies on plea bargains.

Restorative justice is based on the belief that offenders can be rehabilitated and re-enter society as productive citizens. It gives justice back to the victims by involving them in the process.

What Is Restorative Justice? Restorative justice is holding offenders accountable to victims and the community. Victim-offender mediation is restorative justice. Restorative justice emphasizes healing the victims, offenders, and communities caused by criminal behavior. Practices (a) identify and take steps to repair harm, (b) involve all stakeholders, and (c) transform the traditional relationship between communities and their governments.

Prisoners, some on death row, where DNA evidence were ignored or discounted --Prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges report on why evidence of innocence comes second to procedural rules.

Anyone convicted of a felony loses the right to vote — while behind bars or even for life. 23 states have revised their laws to let more one-time criminals vote. Expanding the Vote State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997-2010.

"Is Modern-Day America Modern Enough When it Comes to Crime and Punishment?"

Can Social Capital Networks Assist Re-entry Felons to Overcome Barriers to Re-entry and Reduce Recidivism? In 2011 nearly three-quarters of a million people—mostly African American and Hispanic men will return from jail or prison to communities in the U.S. --Wake Forest University

A Sort of Homecoming: Incarceration and the housing security of urban men--While individuals returning from prison face many barriers to successful re-entry, among the most serious are the challenges they face in securing housing. Housing is a prerequisite for stable employment, access to social services, and individual and family functioning. The formerly incarcerated face administrative restrictions on housing options.Social Science Research

Global Perspectives on Re-Entry: Exploring the Challenges Facing Ex-Prisoners

Crime, Punishment, and Reform in Europe by Louis A. Knafla -- Essays on the history of crime, punishment, and reform in Europe from the 18th century. It contains 22 book reviews on major works from the mid-1990s.

Punishment, Communication, and Community by R. A. Duff -- Challenges existing penal theories and practices.

Punishment and Social Structure by George Rusche, Otto Kirchheimer --The history of crime in 3 primary eras - early Middle Ages with emphasis on penance and fines, Middle Ages corporal and capital punishment, and the 17th century development of the prison system.

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