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Letter: Criminal justice system needs reform

Editor, Gazette-Journal:

Today our outsized, unnecessarily large state prison populations are growing at a rate of 15 percent, with no decrease in growth projected in coming years. Our federal prison population has grown eightfold since 1980. Currently, the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and incarcerates almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

In the past 40 years, prison populations rose 500 percent, with drug offenses being its biggest driver. We are spending $80 billion a year on incarceration, ranking from $31,000 to $60,000 per prisoner. Democrat Jim Webb said recently “either we are home to the most evil people on Earth, or we are doing something dramatically wrong in how we approach criminal justice reform.”

Statistics show that money spent on education, prevention and treatment returns a far better value than incarceration. For every drug-addicted person we deny treatment to, we are guaranteeing there will be more crimes committed. Fo...

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