Over the past three decades, the U.S. prison population has grown exponentially, to the point where we have the largest prison population of any country of the world. Millions more men and women are under other forms of correctional supervision.
As a country, how we spend our tax dollars, especially in relation to crime, often has a more reactive than proactive focus. As we build more prisons than schools, punishing and containing individuals who have the potential to contribute to our communities, we diminish our future. This situation has costs beyond our vast corrections expenditures: in the lost talents of those who spend years of their lives behind bars, in the pain suffered by those whose lives are damaged or destroyed by crime, and in the frustration of many who devote their lives to public service and safety.
This problem affects us all and its underlying causes are many, with systems of economic and social exclusion chief among them. Sacrificing public resources to pay for corrections adversely affects all communities, with the greatest impact on economically distressed, often minority, communities that are torn apart by crime and incarceration.
We all share responsibility for the uniquely American spiral of fear, alienation, violence, crime, impoverishment, and incarceration. As a society, it is imperative that we fundamentally re-think how we approach these issues, and include all voices in the process.
THE INSIDE-OUT CENTER