The nation’s prison system is in crisis. Prison and jail populations ballooned to an all-time high, and the number of people on probation and parole has doubled.
Meanwhile, we're spending more on incarceration than we ever have—and most of that money comes out of the states’ pockets.
President Obama recently announced a major push to overhaul the criminal justice system, saying the U.S. needs to stop locking up nonviolent offenders for so long. Many Republicans agree that lengthy sentences have pushed prisons to capacity and stretched budgets.
Congress is poised to consider a sentencing reform bill before the August recess. But the bulk of the changes would most likely be implemented by the states.
Here in New Mexico, Santa Fe is experimenting with a program that diverts people with addiction issues into drug treatment and other programs to help get their lives back on track. President Obama invited representatives of the city's Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion program to Washington to share their ideas with other states.
How should New Mexico approach overcrowding, recidivism and the increasing cost of incarceration? What about the underlying issues like mental health and substance abuse that keep so many people behind bars?
We'll be talking about this on the next KUNM Call-in Show, and we'd like to hear from you. So post comments and questions below, Tweet @KUNMnews, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call in live and join the discussion Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
- Captain Jerome Sanchez, Santa Fe Police Department
- Emily Kaltenbach, Drug Policy Alliance
State Senator John Ryan
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