The decades long criminal justice reform battle is now over.
There will be no legislation to curb mass incarceration.
HOW TRUMP KILLED PRISON REFORM.
The decades long criminal justice reform battle is now over. There will be no legislation to curb mass incarceration. Lawmakers now believe that reversing mass incarceration laws will indeed make America more dangerous and put their political careers in jeopardy, while they once again adopt a traditional national policy to get tough on crime. Trump has killed the criminal justice reform movement by linking illegal immigration and violent crime, thus prompting the rest of the country to take a harder line as well. Coupled with warnings of a ongoing crime spike, Trump has taken the country back to the ‘90s, with lawmakers falling into historical patterns of invoking crime fears to rile the country. This new harsh line is being directed at any movement that is calling for the overhaul of law enforcement and justice policies. Simply, Trump is telling the country that there is a crime wave now and he is implying that crime is going to continue to go up as a permanent trajectory and that the country should not be blaming criminal justice policies and particularly not policing policies for this.
THE IMPACTS OF TRUMP’S PRISON REFORM POLICIES.
Increased wrongful convictions.
Trump’s harsh stance on crime and his lack of planning any meaningful prison reform will result in the sentencing of more excessive prison terms and an increase in the number of Americans imprisoned for wrongful convictions for decades to come. Recent research conducted by the National Registry of Exoneration’s indicates that 2016 set a record for exoneration’s in a single year: 166. Of that total, 74 pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit. For the last two decades national criminal justice reform organizations, such as the Innocence Project and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) have fought against this injustice.
Currently in the justice system the balance of power between defendants and prosecutors has changed in that those now accused of crime no longer feel that they have a chance to prevail in court nor are they able to afford bail, so they languish in prison, often in dangerous conditions. Mandatory minimum prison sentencing now gives prosecutors the power to craft the prison sentence a defendant will serve based on how they choose to define the crime. Based upon the latest research conducted on the total incarcerated population of 2.2 million, anywhere between 40,000 and 160,000 Americans are now in prison for crimes to which they pleaded guilty but did not actually commit. This total is expected to double in the next decade as a result of Trump’s prison reform policies that will see the passing of new stricter federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, while attempting to increase all federal prosecutions of state and local crimes proving he has increasing federal authority over street crime.
Increased excessive prison terms
The decades long fight against mass incarcerations has largely now meet its death, once again being replaced by a smoldering legacy of a criminal justice system beyond fixing. Prison antagonism, especially in the country’s rural facilities, continues to escalate. The daily stability of the country’s prison environments and the safety of their staff and prisoners continue to worsen. The death of criminal justice reforms has all but killed the fight against mass incarceration. The historical political dysfunction responsible in the first place for the creation of the American Gulag is now reflected in the voices of belligerent prison guards and disconnected lawmakers. Trump is refusing to repeal much of the barbaric sentencing laws of the 1990’s while choosing instead to resurrect the old tired rhetoric about cleaning up neighborhoods.
In virtually all state prison systems assaults on staff and prisoners continue to rise. Under Trump’s prison reform policies in the legislature, in the media and in our prisons the base instincts of men and women have been given a form of legitimacy. Prison guards currently use dehumanizing policies which produce situations that provoke violent conflict and grant unwarranted protections from public transparency and accountability. Our prisons will continue to be the epicenters of hatred. The bastions of prison injustice that came to be known as justice reform will once again retain their social presence and live on in the bones of prison inmates through future generations. Our prisons will continue to represent the disturbing physical, legal, and cultural continuity of America’s prison past: chains, cages, and codes.
THE FINAL DEMISE OF PRISON REFORM.
Up to now those fighting for justice system reforms have been impressively broad, diverse and well-moneyed, ranging from the ACLU and NAACP to the Koch brothers and many state governors. These groups each brought their own priorities to the issue. Fiscal conservatives focused on the cost of the bloated prison population. Civil rights groups highlighted mass incarceration’s disproportionate impact on minority communities. The one uniting goal of these groups was reducing the U.S. prison population in a way that also reduced the likelihood that inmates would go back to committing crimes. Other goals in this battle saw efforts to address police accountability, drug legalization and civil asset forfeiture. Trump’s approach to prison reform will rely heavily upon knee-jerk legislation driven by sensationalized public tragedies that contributed to the creation of the existing mass incarceration policies in the first place. A good example of this is Trump’s plan to impose mandatory sentencing minimums on undocumented immigrants who return to U.S. after being deported which, according to Families Against Mandatory Minimums, would add nearly 60,000 more people to the federal prison population.
For two decades, criminal justice reformers have fought to convince lawmakers that dismantling the country’s ‘80s and ‘90s era crime legislation — through cutbacks on mandatory minimums or softening of drug laws — would not make the country look like it was “soft on crime.” The best proof they had was the success of a number of state lawmakers — especially in red states — in curbing mass incarceration without facing political consequences. As it stands today Trump has pretty well ended the fight for prison reform by exploiting negative imagery and stereotypes for mere political gain.
Paul Cogan is a writer for the republicandirtytricks.com and is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He specializes in coverage of justice, political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him by following him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/paul.f.cogan.
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