December 11, 2014

The Problem of Overcriminalization

George Will: “In 2012, one of every 108 adults was behind bars, many in federal prisons containing about 40 percent more inmates than they were designed to hold. Most of today’s 2.2 million prisoners will be coming back to their neighborhoods and few of them will have been improved by the experience of incarceration. This will be true even if they did not experience the often deranging use of prolonged solitary confinement, which violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ and is, to put things plainly, torture. The scandal of mass incarceration is partly produced by the frivolity of the political class, which uses the multiplication of criminal offenses as a form of moral exhibitionism. This, like Eric Garner’s death, is a pebble in the mountain of evidence that American government is increasingly characterized by an ugly and sometimes lethal irresponsibility.”

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