Mic: 2015 Was the Beginning of the End of Mass Incarceration
Date:  01-01-2016

Obama, Black Lives Matter and bi-partisan coalitions touted as some of the major players in policy changes
Via Mic

2015 Was the Beginning of the End of Mass Incarceration

By Zeesham Aleem


2014 was the first year the state and federal prison populations of the United States shrunk in tandem since the Bureau of Justice Statistics began recording their numbers in the 1970s. For some criminal justice policy observers, this unprecedented decline marks the beginning of the end of the era of mass incarceration.

But when historians look back and attempt to trace the rise and fall of America's addiction to solving social problems with prison cells, they may be better served by beginning with the year 2015. The reality is that the 2014 dip amounted only to about 15,000 prisoners, the tiniest drop in the 1.5 million-person bucket that constitutes the federal and state prison populations, and is by no means guaranteed to be followed by similarly modest declines this year or the ones immediately following it.

But this year has revealed that a much bigger change has been set in motion. It was this year the Black Lives Matter movement matured into a powerful social movement capable of unilaterally reshaping the policy platforms of presidential candidates. It was this year President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. It was this year lawmakers in Congress unveiled bipartisan legislation — backed by a Republican senator famously tough on crime — to begin unraveling the harsh sentencing practices developed over the course of the late 20th century that played an essential role in making the United States the most aggressive incarcerator in the world. It was this year that conservative megabillionaires joined forces with hardcore leftists in calling for a fundamental change to the status quo on incarceration.

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