S R Donziger
This report presents the findings and recommendations of a commission established in 1994 by the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives to examine criminal justice policy in the United States and recommend ways in which that policy can make the country safer.
Commission members included citizens, criminal justice specialists, community leaders, national and international scholars, professors, and authors. The Commission concluded that criminal justice policy is often in conflict with itself. It spends large amounts on prisons and then underfunds drug treatment, educational programs, and violence prevention programs. It also ignores considerable academic and field research. The analysis focuses on how fear of crime, rather than crime itself, shapes criminal justice policies. It also notes that prison populations have tripled since 1980, but crime rates have essentially remained stable. Additional issues considered are how politicians in both parties and all levels of government have used fear of crime to generate votes, the rise of a new prison-industrial complex alongside the old military- industrial complex, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Recommended actions include a 3- year moratorium on new prison construction until a systematic assessment of prison needs can be completed, replacing the war on drugs with a policy of harm reduction, and a requirement of a fiscal impact statement before major changes occur in crime policy. Additional recommendations; figures; tables; chapter reference notes; index; and appended state-by-state analyses, descriptions of model crime prevention programs, and list of Commission members
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