Monday, June 08, 2015

Innocent and still in prison: Rev. Pinkney on Mass Incarceration

Rev. Pinkney appreciates all mail.  Any length, any topic!

Rev. Edward Pinkney
Lakeland Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney # 294671
141 First Street
Coldwater, Michigan 49036

Incarceration facts from 2013 still relevant:                                           An Introduction to Rev. Pinkneys article
- The U.S. prison population is more than 2.4 million.
- That's more than quadrupled since 1980.
- That means more than one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars.
- About 14 percent of the prison population is in federal prison -- that's the group Holder is talking about.
- The single largest driver in the increase in the federal prison population since 1998 is longer sentences for drug offenders.
- The average inmate in minimum-security federal prison costs $21,000 each year. The average inmate in maximum-security federal prisons costs $33,000 each year.
- Federal prison costs are expected to rise to 30 percent of the Department of Justice's budget by 2020 .
-  Sens. Dick Durbin, Pat Leahy, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul have all endorsed legislation to give federal judges more flexibility when sentencing non-violent offenders. Holder backs the bill, too.
- The most serious charge against 51 percent of those inmates is a drug offense. Only four percent are in for robbery and only one percent are in for homicide.
- The most serious charge against 20 percent of state-prison inmates is a drug offense. That's much lower than the 51 percent in federal prisons, though it's still larger than any other single category of offense in state prisons.
- At least 17 states are currently experimenting with Holder-like reforms.

Mass Incarceration

According to the New York Times, the US prison population has quadrupled to 25 million.  It is the largest prison population in the world and is 5 to 10 times the incarceration rate of other "democracies."  More than half of state prisoners are serving time for nonviolent offenses;  one in nine is serving a life sentence.

Mass incarceration is often viewed in three major categories:  reducing the number of people entering prison, reducing the length of time persons remain in prison, and reducing the number of people who return to prison.

There are many ways to approach the problem:  1. stop discriminating against people of color.  2. change sentencing guidelines to stress restorative justice  3. provide alternatives to incarceration - and not just for the whites, but for everyone.  We must improve our legal defense system which is ranked one of the worst in the country.  We must hold officials accountable for their action and inaction of wrongdoing.  We must ensure that all eligible persons have access to problem-solving courts (drug, mental health, and vets) and reduce wrongful convictions.  Berrien County leads in wrongful convictions only because there are no check and balances in place.  The judges and prosecutors are the main criminals involved.  We must initiate presumptive parole and truth in sentencing, and implement good time to all prisoners.  When Michigan’s truth in sentencing law was enacted, it went further than nearly every other state in the country.  Instead of requiring people to serve 75% of the minimum sentence in a prison, Michigan requires someone to serve 100% of the minimum sentence in a secure facility.

During Gov. Granholm’s administration, a bill was introduced that would have reinstated good time, allowing someone to be paroled prior to the earliest release date, making Michigan consistent with most other states.  The bill, which was supported by the Dept. of Corrections and opposed by the corrupt prosecutor, did not get through the legislature.  It is time to reconsider reinstating good time.  

We must do something about the high rate of incarceration in Berrien County and the country.  We cannot do it without your help.  We must say enough is enough.  American hypocricy has no limit!

Rev. Pinkney