By Victoria Ravenel
The “whys” and “hows” of this crisis, its rise over the past 40 years, and the weight it bears on the shoulders of our generation is detailed statistically, anecdotally, and graphically in the Justice Policy Institute’s new book, IncarcerationGeneration (ISBN 978-0-9892928-0-1), released hot off the presses this week. The book of essays is a collaboration between JPI and the leading thinkers and activists in the criminal justice field, covering the people most affected by the criminal justice system such as youth, women, and the mentally ill, and aspects of the broken system including specialty courts, policing, and drug policy.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is found in the foreword, written by New York Times Bestseller Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarcerationin the Age of Colorblindess.” She describes her visit to a school where she could almost taste the rage and pain of so many kids, all of whom knew someone who had been incarcerated. She goes on to say, “In that silence and in those cries lies a truth that we, as a nation, have been unwilling to face.”
The 10x10-sized book features a timeline poster that graphically displays our increasing dependence on ineffective and costly juvenile and criminal justice policies. The timeline from 1969 to 2013 includes events such as the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by President Richard Nixon, and legislation to stiffen drug offense sentences in 1973 supported by New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.
Plans are currently being made for events in California, Chicago, New York and several more in the nation’s capitol.
Tori is JPI's communications intern.