Ending the Cycle of Incarceration Requires Ending the Overcriminalization of America

Ending the cycle of incarceration requires creative solutions at every step of the criminal justice process, from prosecution and prison time to release and rehabilitation.

We can reduce the number of released inmates who return to prison if we reduce the number of people entering prison in the first place.

With more than 2 million individuals behind bars in America’s criminal justice system, at a cost of $80 billion a year, it’s more important than ever to end the overcriminalization of America.

There are five key steps every lawmaker and committed citizen can support to bring about positive changes in our criminal justice system. These changes can break the cycle of incarceration while reducing overcriminalization.

This five-step approach was first outlined by Mark Holden and Charles Koch in an article published in Politico.

  1. “First, do no more harm. Legislators must resist the temptation to criminalize activities that do not fit a common-sense understanding of what is a ‘crime.'”
  2. “Address prosecutorial abuses, especially in the discovery and grand jury processes.”
  3. “Ensure that all those charged with a crime receive their Sixth Amendment right to representation by a lawyer.”
  4. “End unduly harsh sentences and resulting disparities by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences.”
  5. “Restore all rights to youthful and non-violent offenders.”

These proposed reforms can improve well-being for all Americans, especially the three out of four inmates sitting in jail now who are in danger of returning there within five years of their release.

Let’s give them a fighting chance to lead a productive, fulfilling life when they re-enter society.

Read the original article, “The Overcriminalization of America,” to learn more about these five steps to ending the cycle of incarceration.