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(en) US Jail population - Two Million to Many day February 15th, 2000.

From CLaw7MAn@webtv.net (Mike Steindel)
Date Thu, 10 Feb 2000 16:13:46 -0800 (PST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   February 10, 2000 
Contact Nora Callahan @(509)684-1550, Jason Ziedenberg @(202)678-9282 or
Kevin Zeese @(703)354-5694 
Vigils of Protest Greet America's 2 Millionth Prisoner on February 15th
"Two Million is Too Many", say Drug Policy and Justice Reformers 


WASHINGTON, DC- Vigils of protest in over 30 cities will greet the day
crime experts predict our nation will incarcerate more than 2 million
people. The Justice Policy Institute reported last December that
America's prison and jail population would top 2 million on February
15th, 2000. 

With less than 5% of the world's population, the U.S. has one-quarter of
the world's prisoners. It has also been noted that the rapid expansion
of the U.S. 

Prison Industrial Complex has been fueled by the war on drugs. In the
federal system, 60% of the prisoners are drug law violators with no
violent criminal history. 

Over half of the nation's 2 million prisoners are nonviolent. 
"I have always believed that incarceration should be the last resort of
a civilized society, not the first," says Michael S. Gelacak, the
immediate past Vice Chairman of the United States Sentencing Commission.
"We have it backwards and it is time we realized that. We do not need a
prison industrial complex in this country." 

>From the East Coast into Texas, through California and the Pacific
Northwest, vigils of protest will be held near jails, courthouses and
prisons as part of nationwide events drawing attention to the social and
financial costs of imprisoning 2 million Americans. 

"Two million is too many," says Nora Callahan, Director of the November
Coalition, a national reform group calling for alternatives to
incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. "In thirty four cities we
will call on state and federal governments to stop breaking up families
and destroying our communities. Prison is not the solution to every
social problem," says Callahan. 

Since Gov. George Bush won office, the Texas prison population has
skyrocketed from 41,000 to nearly 150,000. In Houston, the Drug Policy
Forum of Texas will be holding a vigil and press conference on February
15th to report on the role drug policy has played in the state's
skyrocketing incarceration rate. 

"Our challenge is to choose other humane and cost effective options,"
says Dr. G. Alan Robison, Director of the Forum. (713) 784-3196. 

In New York City the Prison Moratorium Project will inform high school
and college students on the alternatives to incarceration. "Coming
halfway through black history month, it is both sad and ironic that we
must commemorate Valentine's Day by noting that one in three black youth
are under some form of criminal justice control today," said Kevin
Pranis of The Prison Moratorium Project @(212) 727-8610. "New York State
is diverting millions of dollars from colleges and universities to pay
for its prisons we can't afford," Pranis concluded. 

In conjunction with the nationwide vigils, Common Sense for Drug Policy
is conducting a national advertising campaign. Ads which draws attention
to the housing of 2 million people behind bars in the United States will
appear in The Nation, New Republic, National Review, Weekly Standard,
the Progressive and Reason. An ad by the public interest web-journal
tompaine.com will also be running in The New York Times next Wednesday
to call attention to the U.S. prison binge. 


For more information on any of these events, contact the November
Coalition at (509) 684-1550. Contact numbers and locations for the
thirty rallies, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.
and New York City can be found on The November Coalition's web-page at

The Justice Policy Institute can be reached at (202) 678-9282. JPI is a
Washington DC-based criminal justice 'think tank' promoting sensible
crime policy alternatives to America's social problems. 

The study entitled, "The Punishing Decade: Prison and Jail Estimates at
the Millennium", which estimates when the U.S. will surpass 2 million
prisoners, can be found on the Institute's website at www.cjcj.org.
Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy can be reached at:
703-354-5694, their website is www.csdp.org

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