When it comes to prison and sentence reform, the winds of change are starting to blow. Recently a small number of non-violent, drug offenders were granted clemency from serving multi-year and life sentences and yesterday, for the first time ever, a sitting President visited a federal prison. Also, perhaps for the first time, the President publicly recognized that sentences for nonviolent crimes like drugs need to be reevaluated and reform for our prison system must be a higher priority.
The statistic that Americans make up 5% of the world's population for 25% of the world's prison population is staggering. Worse yet, the majority of that 25% are nonviolent drug offenders who undoubtedly have some addiction to drugs or alcohol.
It would be encouraging this election year if we hear the candidates tell us that they're not going to be "tough on crime" but "smart on crime." - that they can figure out ways to help individuals before they enter the criminal justice system before the nasty cycle begins. We have a long way to go, but when the President makes it part of their political agenda, things are moving in the right direction.