Dear Madame/Mr. President:
Today, America has one of the highest incarceration rates, and the number is rising by the day. Outdated policy mandates harsh minimum sentences to offenders who have committed petty crimes. This costs Americans tax dollars, to support a system that is simply ineffective. Our criminal justice system fails to deliver change to our society, community, and our prisoners. There are many critical errors in today's Criminal justice system that must be answered, we need reform in our policies from drugs, police procedure, to changing criminals’ lifestyle to one that makes them a positive, productive member of society. In turn our crime rates, prison population will fall, and the rate of success of our criminal justice system will raise.
For years now our society has shifted its view on our opinions of drugs, and the harsh minimum sentences mandated with drug offences, many people are in our prisons due to outdated policy on drugs, and more specifically marijuana, too many. This is one of the top contributors to prison overcrowding, and the overall ineffectiveness of our criminal justice system. Noël Merino, PhD in philosophy wrote “There have been more than 12 million marijuana arrests in the United States since 1995, including more than 693,000 in 2013, significantly more than for all violent crimes combined. Cultivation of even one marijuana plant is a federal felony.” That number is huge, 12 million in less than 25 years, arrested and imprisoned for the use of a drug that in some states is completely legal for adults to consume. “Eliminating these overly harsh doctrines would go a long way toward solving the problem of exploding prison populations, without conflicting with our deepest notions of what is and is not just punishment.” The war on marijuana has cost our country millions in tax dollars and clogged our prisons with citizens who do not belong there in the first place, it is time we make a change in our policy, before it costs us and our government more.
Today, unfortunately, an individual's chance of being arrested, or suspected of a crime often comes down to the color of your skin. This is a pervasive problem in America, racial profiling. “In New Jersey in 1999 an official report concluded that many state troopers used race as the basis for stopping drivers on highways in hopes of making drug arrests.” Not only does this violate the civil rights of the people being stopped, but it also contributes to the overwhelming race inequalities in our prisons. This is a huge problem that must be addressed by our next president, as it is a growing issue that is now a common household issue of our country. Racial discrimination has forever been in our roots, and we have not taken enough measures to give our country's citizens their full unalienable rights.
American prisons do not take enough measures to truly make a criminal want to change their ways. To many prisoners find themselves in a revolving door, one they can get out of, but simply do not know how. We need to invest in our prisons, to create programs that help the prisoners who truly want a way out. Some of these programs exist already, some are in the making, and others are not even thought of yet. “Just as a bicycle works best when it uses different gears based on the terrain, we need a justice system that has different responses for different situations—shifting gears to treatment, prevention, and long-term public safety solutions as appropriate.” If we want to solve this problem we must think of new ways to make them a part of our society, give them a way to contribute.
Our ongoing fight with the criminal justice system must be tackled, and fast. Day by day more and more people are filling our prisons, people who may not deserve to be thrown in prison. We must evaluate our effectiveness in our policies, procedures, and correcting or criminal’s behavior. The solution is out there, it is for you, our President to find it and tackle our long sustained problem with our criminal justice system.