Mass Incarceration: The revival of slavery in the United States -
Alexandra Estrella

Many thousands of people are cycled in and out of state jails or prisons every day. Extreme sentencing laws and practices are keeping people in prisons for far longer than ever before. The result is that more people are spending more of their lives in prison than at any point in U.S. history. This phenomenon is incredibly neglected as it primarily affects the disadvantaged minorities in the United States. As said by Michelle Alexander, there are more African Americans under correctional control than there were enslaved African Americans in the 1850s. Prison has become a punishment aimed to disable the underrepresented and the underprivileged while failing to increase public safety.

While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages. Private prison companies essentially admit that their business model depends on locking up more and more people. The American economy should not include locking people in cages for profit.

Prison reform is one remedy to the ineffectiveness of our justice system that many states and the federal government have explored. Prison reform seeks to change the status quo by providing individuals with a constructive and dignified experience while they are incarcerated and providing access to tools to transform their lives. By ensuring that individuals have the opportunity to use their time incarcerated in a constructive manner and allowing them to maintain positive relationships with their support network, we can increase the likelihood they become productive members of their communities upon reentry.

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