Since 1980, the U.S. prison population has expanded 500%, an astounding figure that has resulted in 2.3 million people in prison, more than any other country in the world.
Using this interactive map from the Vera Institute for Justice, you can see just how much the incarceration rate has changed in your county over the past several decades: http://trends.vera.org/#/
Resources like this should be a wake up call to all of us. We should learn about the criminal justice system in our country, practical reforms that can be made, and advocate for them.
Mass incarceration is an epidemic in the U.S. that took years to enact and will take many more to undo. In seeking a criminal justice system that includes the “justice” part, not just the “criminal” part, MCC is constantly working for reforms at the federal level.
The first small step towards criminal justice reform (and we do mean small) is currently before the Senate in the form of a bill called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. If passed, however, it will hardly be enough. More change is needed, and we should join with others at the local, state, and federal level to work for it.
If you would like to learn about the U.S. criminal justice system and the racial disparities in it, MCC has new resources for you. Consider participating in The New Jim Crow Project with your small group or Sunday school class. Participants will use Christian study guides to work through Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. We will work with you and your congregation to adapt the materials and time to fit your best needs. Webinars before and after the study will provide room for discussion between Anabaptist groups across the country.