The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections released recommendations on prison reform today. The recommendations include ending mandatory minimums for drug crimes and reserving them for the most serious offenses, issuing sentences on an individualized basis with all possible alternatives being considered, increased investment in rehabilitation and reintegration and more data analysis, including on racial impact.
The United States accounts for 5 percent of the world’s total population, but 22 percent of the world’s prison population.
The task force’s recommendations are an important step towards addressing the shameful issue of mass incarceration in the United States. It is disgraceful that the United States represents nearly a quarter of the world’s prison population. The criminal justice system should impose punishments fairly and proportionately to the offense committed, and do so without discrimination.
These federal guidelines are welcome, but since the overwhelming number of prisoners in the U.S. are housed in state facilities, it is critical that state governments follow suit. In the interest of human rights, human dignity, public safety and fiscal responsibility, is time for the United States to make a nationwide commitment to reducing the prison population.