Published in the Sacramento Bee | March 6, 2015
America's focus on punishment means injustice, inequality
By Darren Walker
From Oscar speeches to op-ed pages, our national conversation has finally focused on one of America’s most glaring affronts to democracy: our shameful record on mass incarceration.
We imprison some 2 million people, more than any other country. In the name of justice, we have witnessed—and, with our complicity, perpetuated—countless, unconscionable violations of it.
Why? Because our criminal justice system emphasizes criminalization over justice.
For years, punitive policies—the so-called war on drugs, “stop-and-frisk,” the “broken windows” theory and the “three strikes” theology—have conspired to reinforce injustice and inequality. Together, they have produced an overrepresentation of people of color in our prisons and jails. Today, more African Americans are part of the criminal justice system than were enslaved on the eve of the Civil War.