Today, like any other day, there are around 2.4 million people incarcerated in America’s federal, state, and local prisons and jails. Together, the nation’s inmates would constitute the fourth biggest city in the United States, knocking Houston down a notch.
For decades, lawyers, scholars, and judges have criticized mandatory drug sentencing as oppressive and ineffective. Yet tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders continue to languish behind bars. No one embodies the emerging consensus on the excessive cruelty of mandatory drug sentencing quite like Mark Osler.
The United States houses 25% of the world's inmates despite having only 5% of the world's population. This fact prompted former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia to say, "Either we have the most evil people on earth living in the U.S., or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice." The prison industrial complex has a vested interest in keeping people locked up.