I have been trying to form a blog post around this fact:
In the midst of a fiscal crisis, Maryland, like so many other states, simply can’t afford to spend such an obscene amount of money on corrections when viable alternatives exist. Maryland’s incarceration rate has tripled since 1980, disproportionately affecting communities of color. In Baltimore alone, more than half of African American men between the ages of 20 and 30 are under the control of the corrections system – most serving lengthy sentences for nonviolent offenses. Even after eventual release, the dark shadow cast by a criminal record leaves a large segment of Maryland’s population facing significant barriers to employment.
I wonder what I could say that would drive it home that this absolutely cannot be what our criminal justice system intended – this cannot be the outcome that legislators wanted when they dreamed up things like parole. Just writing it should do the trick, right? You should get it, that this is a bad thing. But the public is divided into two camps, those that are horrified (my choir) by this statistic and those that will think (and say to their spouse) things like “well, if black people didn’t commit all those crimes they wouldn’t be in jail”
I know there is a lot more to say, about justice and race and poverty and expectations. But there isn’t time right now. There are too many wrongs to bring to light.