Roughly 35 years ago mass incarceration was born in the United States. It began with draconian drug laws which disproportionately targeted the poor and communities of color. It then spread to other social ills, like mental illness and homelessness, which -- like drug addiction -- were punished rather than treated.
As the U.S. has become the prison capital of the world, many now recognize that mass incarceration is a moral failure. In 2014, 30 states passed laws aimed to reduce their prison populations. In November of last year, 6,000 drug offenders were released early from federal prison because of a retroactive reduction in drug sentences. An additional 8,550 individuals could be eligible for release this November.
Yet while bipartisan support to end mass incarceration has grown, the drive to criminalize and incarcerate immigrants has intensified. A new book released today by Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies, “Indefensible: A Decade of Mass Incarceration of Migrants Prosecuted for Crossing the Border,” demonstrates the inhumanity, futility, and exorbitant costs of criminalizing immigration.