The “war on crime” era of American history drastically changed how we deal with crime, and incarceration. The saying “lock em up and throw away the key” became the structure of our sentencing and imprisonment of criminals. This idea has not helped our country or anyone affected by these policies, on the contrary it has ruined millions of families, countless lives, it has done unnamable damage to our economy, and our society since its conception.

Putting every man and woman who breaks a law behind bars is not a healthy way to deal with crime. The war on drugs which is the campaign that brought about this throw away the key mentality and policy brought the “population of incarcerated citizens from 218,466 in 1974 to 1,508,636 in 2014, over a 600 percent increase while the population has only grown 51% in that same time” according to Lauren Carroll of politifact.com. Most of these people are poor, predominantly African American men who were found possessing small amounts of drugs. The disparity of race that is being imprisoned is astonishing, as illustrated by prisonpolicy.org. These are not violent criminals and by taking them out of the workforce and ripping them from their families to keep them in jail and make no effort to rehabilitate these men nothing is accomplishments except for a supremely effective waste of money for the government.

Today, victims of our broken judicial system feel unfairly treated and they are not helped in any way to try and keep them out of the courts in the future. Many alternatives to incarceration have been suggested, all of them costing the government much less and having much higher rates of real rehabilitation and reshaping of model citizens. Some of these options are; restorative justice, exile, fines, transformative justice, and drug courts. These alternative forms of punishment provide benefits economically on multiple fronts, avoid the human rights and public health issues a prison involves, improve the economy by keeping household earners out of prison and in the workforce, and benefit society by changing criminals into genuinely better citizens and keeping families together supported.

The current system of judicial punishment is broken and scarred by an era of history in America covered in fear and prejudice. The way it is now helps no one and it needs to change.

 

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Lock Em Up and Throw Away the Key by Nathan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

6 Comments
  1. Alaa 3 months ago

    Dear nathan
    I am sad about your post,“Lock Em Up and Throw Away the Key,” because the post talks about stupid police actions that really were devastating. The increase of people going to jail has grown 600% , but the population is only growing by 51%.“These are not violent criminals and by taking them out of the workforce and ripping them from their families to keep them in jail and make no effort to rehabilitate these men nothing is accomplishments except for a supremely effective waste of money for the government.” I think this is \ strong to say because you are talking about how you feel. I learned life is not fair and people will try to always bring you down in this case the government is bringing down the people who need help.
    About what Another sentence that I liked was : “Today, victims of our broken judicial system feel unfairly treated, and they are not helped in any way to try and keep them out of the courts in the future.” This stood out for me because it talks about what I think is what’s wrong and what I was fighting about in the previous quote.
    I want to hear more about what you right about because you have amazing things to write about and i am happy you think of these things because it happens a lot these days

  2. Alaa 3 months ago

    Dear Nathan

    I am sad about your post,“Lock Em Up and Throw Away the Key,” because the post talks about stupid police actions that really were devastating. The increase of people going to jail has grown 600% , but the population is only growing by 51%.“These are not violent criminals and by taking them out of the workforce and ripping them from their families to keep them in jail and make no effort to rehabilitate these men nothing is accomplishments except for a supremely effective waste of money for the government.” I think this is \ strong to say because you are talking about how you feel. I learned life is not fair and people will try to always bring you down in this case the government is bringing down the people who need help.  

    About what Another sentence that I liked was : “Today, victims of our broken judicial system feel unfairly treated, and they are not helped in any way to try and keep them out of the courts in the future.” This stood out for me because it talks about what I think is what’s wrong and what I was fighting about in the previous quote.

    I want to hear more about what you right about because you have amazing things to write about and i am happy you think of these things because it’s happening a lot these days.

  3. Quinton 3 months ago

    Dear Nathan :
    I am happy by your post, “Lock Em Up and Throw Away the Key,” because it talks about people and jail who don’t belong there and how the population of people that are in jails has increased over the years.
    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “This idea has not helped our country or anyone affected by these policies, on the contrary it has ruined millions of families, countless lives” I think this is accurate because my mom and dad is in jail and I feel like that ruined our family because all my siblings don’t live with each other. It makes me and my siblings sad and angry a lot.
    Another sentence that caught my eye was: “Putting every man and woman who breaks the law behind bars is not a healthy way to deal with crime.” This stood out to me because I think it’s a better way to handle criminals who do Non-violent things. But for example, a person carry lot of marijuana should not be put in jail they should get it taken away or have to pay a fine.
    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I liked your last topic because it related to me and I want to see what you got coming next.

  4. Melissa 3 months ago

    Nathan,
    The US prison system values punishment over reform, rather than help people suffering from various socioeconomic factors traps them in a inescapable system. I wrote my post of the war on drugs which resulted in millions of people imprisoned for non violent crimes. The US stands alone on its harsh punishments and long sentences for relatively small crimes that target the minority and poor population. Id love to read more about what happens to people after they leave prison and what their return rate it. thanks!

  5. Emma 3 months ago

    Nathan, you have some good points I agree with. Too many people are put in prison for crimes that don’t put the public at risk. It would be better to give prisoners skills and opportunities for rehabilitation, especially young offenders. That way after they have served their time in prison they might do better when entering the real world.

  6. Sean 3 months ago

    Nathan,
    I agree that the mistreatment of inmates over the last 40 years has gotten out of hand. while there are those that deserve to be in prison, most that are, are as you said in possession of small amounts of drugs and then locked away after they’ve been caught. The government needs to switch to the options you listed because it will work better and save them a lot of money.

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