On June 16th, as a part of the SVP Dallas Responds series, we held our first discussion on the criminal justice system in the United States and how it might be reformed into an equitable and just system. On June 30th, we hold Part II of that discussion.
“Mass incarceration is the result of small, distinct steps, each of whose significance becomes more apparent over time, and only when considered in light of later events.”
2.7% of the entire adult population in the United States is currently under some form of correctional supervision. Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the U.S. population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015. Across the criminal justice system, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on PreK-12 public education in the last thirty years.
The significance of small, distinct steps taken over many years across our criminal justice system has become apparent. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world and has bent its justice system into an oppressive structure that targets communities of color.
At this powerful moment in our history, as we seek to dismantle systemic racism across our institutions, we must look hard at one of the most effectual tools of oppression in our nation: mass incarceration. Equity in our communities and a free United States cannot co-exist with a justice system that weights its scales based on race. On June 30th at 10am CT, our esteemed panel will discuss the current state of incarceration in the United States with a focus on the power of public defenders in the fight for legal equality and necessary reforms to the system.
• James Forman Jr., Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of Locking Up Our Own
• Lynn Richardson, Chief Public Defender, Dallas County Public Defender’s Office
• Jonathan Rapping, Founder & President, Gideon’s Promise