Tuesday, July 1, 2014
I was asked how imprisonment rates have increased over the past 10 to 20 years. Our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration began in the early 1970s. An article that Robert Martinson, a social scientist, published in a journal spawned that era of massive growth. The article, titled “Nothing Works,” concluded that regardless of what efforts society made to reform people who broke the law, we could not succeed in lowering recidivism.
Following Martin’s article, a distinguished professor from Harvard, James Q. Wilson, published a book called Thinking About Crime. Professor Wilson’s book held that we as a society didn’t know enough about how to reform human beings. Basically, he concluded that society could respond best to people who broke criminal laws by isolating them from society, or locking them up. With regard to high costs, Professor Willson concluded that criminals cost society much more than the costs of incarceration. He argued that building more prisons made good economic sense for taxpayers because of the high costs associated with crime.
Legislators and prison lobbyists latched on to those reports by Martinson and James Q. Wilson. The tough on crime era began to take root, and politicians passed laws to establish themselves as law-and-order types. The prison boom began, bringing hyperbolic growth rates, with more and more public resources being deployed into the criminal justice system. When I began serving my prison sentence, in 1987, our nation confined approximately 500,000 people. Population levels increased dramatically since then, by more than 400 percent. Today, we incarcerate more than 2.2 million people.
Days since my release from prison: 323
Miles that I ran today: 8.33
Miles that I ran so far this week: 27.4
Miles that I’ve run during the month of July: 8.33
Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,367.27
Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 1,032.73
Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 164.96
My weight for today: 167