Prison Reform - we need more "Alice Johnson" stories

Freed grandmother thanks Trump: 'I am so grateful'


A woman whose life sentence President Donald Trump commuted on Wednesday thanked the president Thursday morning and urged him to “remember” other prisoners who she said deserve similar opportunities for freedom.

“I have not heard directly from the White House yet, but I'd like to tell president Trump that I am so grateful for everything that you've done for me and my family,” Alice Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “This moment right now is happening because President Trump had mercy on me.”

Johnson was released from a federal prison Thursday in Aliceville, Alabama, hours after the White House announced that Trump had commuted the life sentence she had been given in 1996 for a nonviolent drug offense. Johnson’s case was brought to the president by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who met with Trump last week in the Oval Office to plead the 63-year-old grandmother’s case.
Comment: Long term incarceration of first time, non-violent offenders makes no sense. Consider this one factor only - the cost of ...

Nationwide, the numbers are staggering: Nearly 2.4 million people behind bars, even though over the last 20 years the crime rate has actually dropped by more than 40 percent. 

"The United States has about 5 percent of the world's population, but we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners - we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any country on Earth," said Michael Jacobson, director of the non-partisan Vera Institute of Justice. He also ran New York City's jail and probation systems in the 1990s. 

A report by the organization, "The Price of Prisons," states that the cost of incarcerating one inmate in Fiscal 2010 was $31,307 per year. "In states like Connecticut, Washington state, New York, it's anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000," he said.

Yes - $60,000 a year. That's a teacher's salary, or a firefighter's. Our epidemic of incarceration costs us taxpayers $63.4 billion a year.

The explosion in incarceration began in the early 1970s - the political response to an explosion in urban violence and increased drug use. 

"So 'Tough on crime,' 'three strikes, you're out,' 'Let 'em rot, throw away the key' - all that stuff resulted in more mandatory sentencing, longer and longer sentencing," said Jacobson.

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