Crime Policy Reformer Says The Time Is Right For ‘Radical’ Ideas


Eric Sterling, president of the non-profit Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, writes on the Huffington Post that the economic and political time is right for “innovative, even ‘radical,’ ideas” in criminal justice. “Last year we had 2.3 million Americans in prison and jail,” Sterling writes. “How many American cars did these men and women buy last year? That’s right, none. That 2.3 million is about ten times greater than the 250,000 prisoners in America during the auto industry’s glory days of the 1960s and 1970s. There are another 8 million Americans who got a felony conviction for possessing or selling drugs in the last twenty years. With their convictions, these people rarely have jobs. They don’t have a legal income and they don’t have credit.”

He goes on to make the case that placing these citizens into the consumer stream might help the economy. He writes, “The economic effect of more than ten million American adults who can’t buy cars, houses, furniture, appliances, or other durable goods is like 9-11, Katrina, and every other hurricane combined. Even with a job, many are without a credit card and are shut out of the marketplace. From Ticketmaster to to the local shore store, American businesses are losing sales. Economically, our criminal justice policies are cutting our throat. Aside from the economic cost, is imprisonment of all of these 2.3 million Americans good anti-crime policy? Not according to the research. Effective crime fighting uses smart police strategies, adequate mental health care, good schools, recreation for youth, jobs and focused rehabilitation.”


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