OverCriminalized • BRAVE NEW FILMS: JUSTICE

10/21/2014 Oclogosolo

It seems that for almost every social problem that pops up, we turn to the criminal justice system. Suffering from mental illness? Here’s a cell. Struggling with drug dependency? Let’s throw you in handcuffs. Sleeping on the street? Here’s an arrest record.

And if you are a person of color, the criminal justice crackdown can be even worse.

How could it possibly make sense to saddle police officers and prison wardens with sole responsibility for helping people get a roof over their head? Or to task lawyers and judges with treating mental illness or helping people get sober? Simply making problems into “crimes” is just making things worse.

It’s 2014. We know better. Not only is all of this inhumane, it’s expensive. When our tax dollars are picking up the tab, it makes sense to put funds where they will make the biggest impact. Housing programs help solve homelessness. Treatment helps stabilize mental illness and end drug dependency. Arrests and jail cells just waste time and money.

OverCriminalized profiles three promising and less expensive interventions that may actually change the course of people’s lives. It’s time to roll back mass criminalization and focus on what works.

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