Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For Immediate Release; What A Great Idea

My state representative, Les Gara wrote me (and approximately everybody else) an e-mail that was a news item he put out "For Immediate Release" about securing access to streams in Alaska. I wrote him back, and because I'm too lazy to do that, and write a blog post, you can peek over his shoulder:
Dear Mr. Gara
I appreciate your work to protect Alaskan's access to streams, and even more, your work to make sure that if we give something to the oil companies, they should make some commitments to us. Here's something to think about for when you have a little time between sessions.
The NAACP and Americans for Tax Reform, two organizations with almost nothing in common have come together to work to shift spending on prisons to spending on education and drug rehab. Education and rehab have benefits for society, prisons generally only benefit the prison workers and the private companies that employ them.
The recently deceased Harvard Law professor, William Stuntz, according to his obituary in the New York Times  "looked at criminal law as a "collection of “pathologies,” beginning with the Supreme Court's decisions to give greater protections to people charged with crimes. State legislatures responded to those rulings with laws that toughened sentencing and defined crime more broadly, leading to more jail time and more arrests, disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities." He has a book being published soon called The Collapse of American Criminal Justice which explores these ideas more fully.
A shocking consequence of our drug laws (and to a large degree prisons are filled with drug users, not violent criminals) discussed in The New Jim Crow  is that there are now more black men in American prisons than were enslaved in 1850
This can't possibly what we think of when we imagine our perfect America or Alaska. 
Thank you for your work in the public service,

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