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As a result, they are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites.
In California it costs more than $75,000 per year to house each prisoner — more than it would cost to send them to Harvard.
Mass incarceration exacerbates poverty and inequality, serving as an economic ball and chain that holds back millions, making it harder to find a job, access public benefits, and reintegrate into the community.
Mass incarceration has crushing consequences: racial, social, and economic.
We spend around $270 billion per year on our criminal justice system.
But in recent years, we’ve also seen the country’s leadership take grave steps back, from expanding immigration detention to reinstituting draconian federal charging policies.
The First Step Act — which needs to be fully funded and implemented — will not fix our deeply broken system.Today, crime and murder rates remain near record lows nationwide.Our cities — many of which suffered under a wave of violent crime in the early 1990s — are largely safer than they have been in years.At long last, a vibrant public conversation is underway.A 2015 Brennan Center publication, , offered proposals from a bipartisan array of elected officials and advocates and helped move criminal justice reform to the center of the 2016 election.Last year, Congress took a step forward by overwhelmingly passing the bipartisan First Step Act.It shortened some of the most extreme federal drug sentences and expanded programming for incarcerated people.Since then, the nationwide consensus in favor of a new direction has only hardened.For the first time, the opportunity for truly transformative change is in view.The racial disparities pervasive in our justice system compound at every juncture: African Americans are more likely to be stopped by police, arrested, detained before trial, and given harsher sentences than whites.Worse, the disparities in our justice system perpetuate racial inequity in our society more broadly.