Miami archbishop laments ‘broken incarceration policies’
May 08, 2014
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who chairs the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has called for a “long overdue conversation about how to fix our nation’s broken incarceration policies.”
“The United States imprisons more people per capita than any other nation in the world at a cost of approximately $80 billion annually,” he wrote in a Miami Herald column.
“Mandatory minimum sentencing, increased criminalization of nonviolent offenses and tough-on-crime policies that introduce youth offenders to the prison system at younger and younger ages all play a role in the increasing number of incarcerations,” he continued. “The growth in recent years of the for-profit private prison industry has also, some argue, created a perverse incentive that favors incarceration instead of other alternatives.”
“Government rightly establishes laws to protect people and advance the common good,” he added. “But, the human and financial costs of mass incarceration are undermining the common good and do little to protect the citizenry. It is counterproductive to invest vast amounts of resources in imprisoning nonviolent offenders. Instead, government and civil society should promote effective programs aimed at crime prevention, rehabilitation, education, substance abuse treatment, and programs of probation, parole and reintegration.”