Pubdate: Wed, 14 Aug 2002
Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Copyright: 2002 The Christian Science Publishing Society
Author: Elizabeth Armstrong - San Francisco


Regarding your Aug. 12 editorial "End of the prison boom": It is unclear 
how an increase in prisoners - even if it is a mere 1 percent - indicates 
an end to the prison boom. But that point aside, your article fails to 
tackle the main problem Americans face with the prison population today.

Regardless of the number of citizens we are finding reasons to imprison, we 
have yet to deal with the number already there who will, over the next 20 
years, be released. American prisons release 1,600 men and women every 
single day. The majority of these freed inmates went in as drug dealers - 
or even just possessors - and are coming out as violent criminals.

We can argue about how it is their fault for getting into trouble. Or we 
can boast about how we're only increasing our prison population by 
miniscule percentage points in recent years. But is that going to keep our 
streets safe? We need to stop pumping money into more prisons to 
accommodate nonviolent drug users, and start using it to refuel 
rehabilitation programs and postrelease support networks so that this 
significant segment of our population can finally begin contributing to 
society in a positive way.

Elizabeth Armstrong - San Francisco
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