A recent report authored by one of the country’s leading criminologists, experienced criminal justice lawyers, and statistical researchers examines how many people may be unnecessarily incarcerated in the U.S. Their findings are somewhat startling: 576,000 individuals – or nearly 40 percent of the prison population – may be imprisoned despite posing no true threat to public safety. Moreover, the country would realize a nearly $20 million savings each year if these prisoners were either more appropriately sentenced to an alternative to prison, e.g., to treatment and to community service, or required to serve less prison time. “How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated in America?” probes this question in aims of positively reforming the justice system.
Lansing criminal defense lawyer Tiffany DeBruin can help you avoid unnecessary incarceration. Her unwavering commitment to serving people who face life-altering circumstances is matched only by her pursuit of justice.
If you are in a situation that requires skilled legal counsel to safeguard your future, then call 517-324-4303 for a confidential consultation.
The Facts and Figures of Unnecessary Incarceration
Published by the Brenan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, “How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated in America?” raises the query with the goal of strategizing a solution to it. Without ignoring that the country and its citizens deserve safety and protection as a basic right, authors L.B. Eisen, James Austin, Ph.D., James Cullen, Jonathan Frank, and Inimai M. Chettiar explore if and how federal and state criminal codes currently meet that mandate. Three years of research led them to conclude that 576,000 of the country’s 1.46 million prisoners (39 percent) in 370 different crime categories would likely be better sanctioned through alternative sentences to prison time and more in keeping with the crime they committed.
Furthermore, the report suggests that one in four (25 percent) of the current prison population is a low-level offender who would be better served through alternative sentences. This might include, for example, substance abuse treatment for those found guilty of drug possession. In addition, over 200,000 prisoners (14 percent) who have already served long prison terms could likely be released within 12 months without posing safety threats while those imprisoned who suffer drug addiction and mental health issues could be sanctioned through compulsory treatment rather than prison time alone.
For this reason, the authors propose a four-part framework to guide decisions on criminal sentences that is based on the:
- Seriousness of the criminal act
- Impact of that act on the victim(s)
- Intent behind act
- Offender’s likely recidivism, i.e., likelihood to re-offend and to reenter the criminal system.
What This Means for Michigan
“Pathways to Prison: A One Detroit Special Report,” a May 2017 documentary produced by Detroit Public Television and specially screened in Lansing that month, reports the sharp increase in the number of Michigan prisoners from 8,000 in 1973 to 41,000 as of early 2017. This 80 percent surge draws scrutiny when considering unnecessary incarceration in Michigan and how the effective the measures proposed in “How Many American Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated in America?” might prove in the state. Not only could the suggested measures save some taxpayer dollars that currently underwrite the high cost of incarceration, but they could also help people transform their lives for the better by providing the kind of help they need to become productive citizens. Moreover, enacting alternatives to current practices might reduce the racial disparity that exists when considering how many more African Americans are likely to be imprisoned in contrast to whites.
Contact DeBruin Law to Help
Your future – and that of those closest to you – could depend on hiring the right criminal defense lawyer. This is why you need someone with extensive experience and a passion for helping people defend themselves.