In too many corners of our nation, black and brown Americans are suffering under the weight of a criminal justice system that disproportionately harms people of color. The AFL-CIO enthusiastically supports the efforts of President Obama to make our laws fairer and more effective.
When a nonviolent offender spends a decade or more of their life behind bars because of mandatory minimum sentencing, no one benefits. When those who have paid their debt to society cannot find housing or a job, the entire economy suffers. When a generation of young Americans advance through our prison system instead of our school system, our nation is weaker for it.
Simply put, mass incarceration is ineffective, racist, and morally bankrupt. It is up to all of us -- business and labor, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative -- to do something about it.
The numbers are staggering. Black Americans make up 13 percent of our population, yet 38 percent of those incarcerated. As President Obama pointed out, we imprison more people than the top 35 European countries combined. We have an epidemic on our hands.More ...