At the end of the old year, on December 20, 2013, the television news program Moyers and Company began with some very disturbing statistics about the United States. "In the past 30 years," Bill Moyers tells his audience, "the number of inmates in federal custody has grown 800%, and half of them are serving sentences for drug offenses." He goes on to cite a statistic from the Sentencing Project, an organization that "works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration." According to The Sentencing Project, "more than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities." These kinds of statistics should wake us all up to the tremendous disparities in our criminal justice system and encourage us to work for change.
What better way to begin the new year than to become committed to making our country a more just and equal place to live? To get inspired, listen to Bill Moyers interview Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The program concludes with the story of Susan Burton, an ex-offender who "now helps formerly-incarcerated women rebuild their lives."
Incarceration Nation from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.
The Moyers and Company website also includes more disturbing "Facts and Figures on Incarceration in America" as well as an excerpt from Michelle Alexander's book, "Understanding the New Jim Crow."