America's Prison Generation

 

Excerpts from an article in Newsweek Magazine November 13, 2000 by Ellis Cose.

As America puts away millions of prisoners, many black and Latino, the neighborhoods they leave behind are growing even more unstable. Newsweek reports on the tangled culture of the Prison Generation, and the debate over how to reclaim troubled lives. In Texas the total inmate population has grown nearly 500 percent in less than a quarter of a century. Upwards of 220,000 people are incarcerated there. Only the much larger state of California (with 240,000 prisoners) has more residents locked down than the Lone Star State. And though California's total prison population dipped slightly for the first time in decades this year, it seems poised to resume its upward climb. Fearful of the emergence of young so-called super predators, Californians this March passed an initiative targeting underage offenders. As a result, in the next five years the state will send an estimated 5,600 youth to adult prisons who normally would have gone to the Youth Authority or county jails. America's rate of imprisonment is the highest on the planet, since we recently passed Russia, our only real rival, according to an analysis last month by Washington's nonprofit Sentencing Project. We have become the nation of jailers. Check this and a follow-up article called Crime and Punishment where a Texas scholar argues for tough sentences in prisons better designed to rehabilitate. Newsweek magazine. newsweek.msnbc.com

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Prisons don't rehabilitate, they don't punish, they don't protect, so what the hell do they do? - Jerry Brown

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