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What American Prison Reform Could Mean
Attorney General Eric Holder, left, and U.S. Attorney Zane David, right, look on as former federal inmates Robert Warner who completed the Supervision to Aid Re-entry (STAR) program, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. Holder is on a planned three-city tour to promote the need for innovative federal programs that help ex-offenders confront their return to society after years in prison. (AP)

Attorney General Eric Holder, left, and U.S. Attorney Zane David, right, look on as former federal inmates Robert Warner who completed the Supervision to Aid Re-entry (STAR) program, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. Holder is on a planned three-city tour to promote the need for innovative federal programs that help ex-offenders confront their return to society after years in prison. (AP)

Prison reform in the United States is a big and sometimes controversial issue. What’s the best way to lower the world’s largest prison population in a time of severely-limited state and federal budget allocations without running the risk of improperly releasing dangerous criminals?

There’s no easy answer, and our March 20 hour on reform tried to dig through some of the heavier issues at hand. We thought guest Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio’s Prison Time Media Project did a fantastic job laying out the potential and peril in prison reform.

“[U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder’s working on a number of fronts here,” Mann said. “”These are things that would shift tectonically the debate over crime and punishment in America.” Ultimately, Mann said, the Attorney General’s efforts are aimed at lowering sentences for non-violent drug offenders and curbing the “recycling” of inmates in and out of jail.

“We’re seeing a patchwork level of experimentation [in the states],” Mann said.

What do you make of these patchwork prison reform efforts at the federal and state level? Is there a way for bipartisan reform? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

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  • Dee Dee B

    I highly recommend : The New Jim crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness –

    Thirty years ago, fewer than 350,000 people were held in prisons and jails in the United States. Today, the number of inmates in the United States exceeds 2,000,000. In this book, Alexander argues that this system of mass incarceration “operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race.” The War on Drugs, the book contends, has created “a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society.” Mass incarceration, and the disabilities that come with the label “felon,” serve, metaphorically, as the new Jim Crow.

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