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read CREW of 42... the unofficial blog on the Congressional Black Caucus

Mikhail Khodorkovsky? How about focusing on one of the 7,225,800 "in the system" in the U.S? The United States jails more people at a rate higher than any other nation on planet earth. Higher than China. Higher than Russia. Poor legal representation and mandatory minimum (3 strikes) policies contribute to this.  Most incarcerated are for non-violent offenses.

read CREW of 42... the unofficial blog on the Congressional Black Caucus

Mikhail Khodorkovsky? How about focusing on one of the 7,225,800 "in the system" in the U.S? The United States jails more people at a rate higher than any other nation on planet earth. Higher than China. Higher than Russia. Poor legal representation and mandatory minimum (3 strikes) policies contribute to this.  Most incarcerated are for non-violent offenses.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics 7,225,800 people were either on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at the end of 2009.  That’s 3.1% of the adults in America and 1 in every 32 adults.  So far, the Obama Administration has not addressed this question or spoken on it in basic general terms.  As of June 2009, 2,297,400 people were behind bars in U.S. prisons and jails with another 92,854 held in juvenile facilities as of the 2006 — and 39% of those in jail here are black. This costs taxpayers over $63 billion a year.  Selective justice? There is still a disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences — resulting in blacks being locked up longer than whites.  To the credit of Pres. Obama he has put focus on education, the epidemic dropout rate in the U.S. is a major factor driving incarceration. But the issue needs comprehensive focus.

President Obama put out a strong statement yesterday regarding Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky read here — who, it is widely believed, has been jailed because he is a political opponent of the Russian government. "We are troubled by the allegations of serious due process violations, and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends."  There are "serious questions about selective prosecution..."says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "President Obama has spoken frequently with President Medvedev about this case..." the press release reads.

I have a question. Why does President Obama need to focus on an oil tycoon in Russia to speak on the topic of "abuse of the legal system" and "due process violations?"  He can get all that right here in the United States.  People are supposed to have a "right to counsel" in the U.S. for criminal trials. That system is underfunded and broken here in the U.S. and contributes to poor people ending up in jail for long periods of time.  Often, poor minorities.  The people at the Innocence Project read here can inform the President on their latest case.  Everyone in the slammer is not innocent but but it is interesting to watch the U.S. President lecture Russia on the justice system when we have a higher incarceration rate than Russia and seven million in the system.

The Russian government had a response this morning: "We are counting on everyone minding his own business – both at home, and in the international arena." With 7,225,800 in the system in America perhaps that is good advice.

read CREW of 42... the unofficial blog on the Congressional Black Caucus

Originally posted to laurenburke007 on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:32 AM PST.

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The US Leads the World in Incarceration... How do we fix it?

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