Saturday, September 6, 2008

MIchigan: Post on Fugitive Mom

A professor of law at Harvard has taken up the cause of Susan LeFevre in a Washington Post editorial. LeFavre was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover officer when she was 19 years old. She pled guilty and received a sentence of 10 to 20 years. But LeFevre escaped one year later and adopted an alias, married and raised a family. Then she was in April. Claiming that those debating the case are missing "the bigger picture," the editorial notes:
LeFevre is one of 2 million Americans behind bars. Many of them, like LeFevre, are nonviolent drug offenders. The staggering number of American prisoners has made the United States the world's leading incarcerator; this nation locks up a greater number of offenders for longer periods than any other nation. In 1960, approximately 330,000 people were behind bars in the United States. Today the number is 2.3 million. Moreover, largely because of the "war on drugs," the increase in women's incarceration in recent years has far outstripped the increase in men's, devastating many families and communities. How did we scale the soaring peaks of mass incarceration? The decline of mercy has played a leading role.
It is easy to imagine the increase of women could be "great" without much effort. The vast majority of those persons in prison are man. As a result, any increase at all would seem significant. More convincingly, the piece observes:
Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of checks and balances, but no one is checking or balancing the decisions that are causing our prisons to overflow. By reinvigorating the veto power of actors all along the justice system, we may save individuals from unnecessarily destroyed lives. We may save money in these economically trying times. But most important, we may save ourselves -- by preserving the value of mercy.
See editorial here.

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