What Mass. lawmakers can learn from the battle to end death by incarceration across the country
by Jean Trounstine, DigBoston, March 3, 2020
With 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States is the world’s largest jailer. Yet after decades of holding this dubious honor, many Americans have begun to question what Fordham law professor John Plaff calls “this massive experiment in punitive social control.” Decarceration is being discussed in states across the country.
In the debate over decarceration, advocates have realized that it is not enough to merely push for “low-level nonviolent drug offenders” to be let out. Decarceration defies such “easy fixes,” Plaff said. Rather, in order to reduce our prison population, we must change how we respond to violent crimes. As a recent article in Slate argued, “replacing the death penalty with death in prison is not true progress.”
A growing movement is calling for an end to harsh sentencing, and in particular, an end to “death by incarceration.” Sometimes called a push to “Drop LWOP” or determination to “bring them home,” in recent years, education campaigns have taken hold to end what many call “perpetual punishment.” From Vermont to California, activists are finding ...