Solving the problem of prison overcrowding
WHEN NIGHT fell on Independence Day, I stood outside with my children and watched fireworks fill the evening sky. As I did so, I contemplated the meaning of freedom here in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American independence.
To be sure, the definition of American freedom is complicated. It was from the very beginning, when the shackles of slavery were interwoven into the ideals of independence and democracy. Our concept of freedom remains convoluted today, as America grapples with the fact that we imprison more people than any nation on Earth.
Thankfully, there is a national push to reduce the number of people in our prisons, and it’s a cause that’s been championed by Republicans and Democrats alike. As I watch our city preparing to buy land on which to build a new prison, however, we seem to be out of step with that national push. We seem to be out of step with national trends, and the data indicate that we are even out of step with our own policies.
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Illustration by: Richard Harrington
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon.