By: Carol Goar, The Star
Just in time for the opening of Parliament, a new book entitled A Plague of Prisons has landed in Canada.
It tells the story of the “mass incarceration” of Americans over the past 30 years, showing how it has torn families apart, exacerbated racial tensions, drained state treasuries and fostered a culture of violence and vengeance.
The author, Ernest Drucker, an epidemiologist at The City University of New York, begins his tale with the passage of tough new state sentencing laws in 1973. Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of the day, was determined to get drug dealers off New York’s streets. He persuaded the legislature to enact mandatory prison sentences, requiring judges to send lawbreakers convicted of selling two ounces of “narcotic drugs” to jail for at least 15 years and stripping them of any discretion to take into account extenuating circumstances.
Over the next 25 years, New York’s prison population increased fivefold. Read more »