Today on Radio Times, three experts talked about the scandals associated with mass incarceration — exactly the focus of Princeton’s The New Jim Crow initiative.
As a result of stricter drug laws and more rigid sentencing guidelines enacted in the 1970s, the U.S. prison population has grown by 500 percent over the past thirty years. Over 2 million Americans are in jails today — about half of them for non-violent crimes — and the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, five times more than in England; 12 times more than in Japan. U.S. prisons are overcrowded and governments at all levels are overwhelmed by their costs. Furthermore, many studies show that mass incarceration may in fact increase crime and that it has devastating effects on poor families and communities. In this hour of Radio Times we’ll explore the legacy of mass incarceration in the U.S. and look at why it may be time to rethink laws and policies intended to ensure public safety. We turn to three local researchers for perspective and analysis — KEITH REEVES of Swarthmore College, JANE SIEGEL of Rutgers, and HEATHER ANN THOMPSON of Temple.
One take-away from this program — the business community (are you listening, chambers of commerce?) could help to solve this social justice problem with one simple change: Take “have you ever been in jail” off the initial employment application. Give the person a chance to present himself and save that question for the interview.