Deploring high costs and destroyed human potential in America’s prisons, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is calling for sweeping changes in Congress of the criminal justice system, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Mass incarceration “transforms” human potential “into an expense we all must pay,” Booker said in Jersey City. Booker, the Democratic nominee in New Jersey’s special U.S. Senate race, called for the elimination of mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.
The Obama administration announced a similar policy shift this month. Instead of sending such criminals to jail for long stretches, Booker said, Congress should invest in drug-treatment programs to reduce recidivism. Those same low-level offenders make up more than half of the federal prison population, he said. He noted that blacks were disproportionately represented in the prison population compared with the general population. In New Jersey, blacks make up 14 percent of the population but 60 percent of all inmates.