As a current college student, I have been fortunate enough to call both North Carolina and New York home: to be part of two unparalleled communities. And when I think about community, I instantly think of role models across the nation who play a formative role in engendering an atmosphere that nurtures and bolsters the growth and prosperity of the youth. Ostensibly, the younger generations are the future. That being said, the backbone of our nation is our children. Most people are not cognizant of the fact that the United States is the only nation on the entire planet that sentences children under 18 to life in prison without parole – a contentious practice denounced by international law. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has decreed that castigating children to death in prison is unconstitutional in all but the rarest cases, since the year 2012, Louisiana has punished three times more children than any other state in America. Of those children, 93% are Black. The youth comprises approximately 40% of Louisiana’s population, and Black Louisianans are representative of 80% of the state’s incarcerated juvenile makeup. These data points are a reflection of the dire need to reform criminal justice practices and confront the systemic inequities that pervade the United States. There is a misconception that public safety and criminal justice reform are mutually exclusive. There are not. They go in tandem with one another. Public safety experts ascertain that community-based violence intervention programs and aid for crime survivors are exceptionally advantageous at minimizing the abominable repercussions of violence. These steadfast modifications are illustrative of what survivors want at the end of the day: a remedy that is rehabilitative, efficient and preventive. When looking at the ramifications of astringent policies such as the juvenile life without parole, it is quite clear that these means of punishment are fiscally irresponsible and ineffective. From a monetary standpoint, it costs about $156,570 to incarcerate a young person for just one year.
At the end of December, a report entitled “The Top Trends in Criminal Justice Reform, 2022” was published by The Sentencing Project, an organization that endeavors to broadcast the notion of decarceration across the nation in addition to countering racial disparities that permeate the criminal justice system. The report underscores the necessity to pay close attention to ameliorating certain policies such as the expansion of voting rights, extreme sentencing, and advancing youth justice. “The evolving framework is rooted in reducing returns to prison for technical violations, expanding alternatives to prison for persons who complete certain rehabilitation programs,” said The Sentencing Project.
Millennials as well as Gen Z have been dubbed the most diverse generation in history. Ultimately, the millennial generation will rule America in the impending future. Their startups have transformed the economy, their preferences have altered cultures, and their affinity for social media has revolutionized human interactions in all spheres of life. American politics is the next facet ripe for refinement. Millennials typically favor marijuana legalization, student debt relief, government-run healthcare and criminal-justice reform. These individuals are receptive to the continuous efforts centered around revitalizing the rehabilitative mission of prisons. Yet, Millennials fall prey to overextending themselves due to interest in a gamut of quintessential matters in our convoluted contemporary society. There is a heavily pontificated debate surrounding performative activism, activism with the purpose of increasing personal gain or popularity as opposed to showing genuine support for an issue, cause or movement. Political scientists and human behavior analysts concur that millennials are socially committed but struggle to elect a singular topic to allocate an adequate amount of time and energy to. It is no longer acceptable to be passively tolerant. It is not just. The treatment that incarcerated persons experience inside the prison walls is clearly needing reform. Activists across the nation are considering the abominable conditions a “humanitarian crisis.” The inmates feel that their lives don’t hold any value. Incarcerating people for political purposes is no anomaly in the United States of America. Prison is essentially a big business at the end of the day, which necessitates places people in often dehumanizing, disparaging living conditions.
Due to the fact that each state’s criminal legal system is distinctly unique in terms of laws and procedures as well as the way data is collected, it is quite difficult to utilize the conclusions reached from an issue in one state to another state with the same complication. There have been general suggestions made by political activists and criminal justice reform agents that are targeted on a national level. Many cities in America are deprived of resources they could use to hinder the onset of crime without punishment or surveillance such as affordable housing developments and youth centers. A solution created is to alter funding from local or state public safety budgets into a local grant program that bolsters community-led safety strategies in communities most afflicted by mass incarceration, over-policing and crime.