According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the issue of criminal justice reform, due to its success in some states, could unite left- and right-leaning voters. Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president for Koch Industries, hopes President Donald Trump takes notice.
Trump thus far is not on record as supporting — or not supporting — efforts to reform the criminal justice system. However, he did run as the “law and order” candidate during the 2016 campaign, rhetoric that tends to reflect a reluctance to investigate criminal justice reform. The Blaze reported Tuesday that the prison system in the United States spends roughly $71 billion a year to house 1.53 million inmates in state and federal prisons.
Of that number of total inmates, 53 percent of those currently held in state prisons are there for non-violent offenses, and it’s this group that interests Holden and other criminal justice reform experts. These offenders, who often find themselves victims of mandatory minimum sentencing end up being lumped in with a more violent and hardened prison cohort. The recidivism rate according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates those released from state prisons have a recidivism rate of 76.6 percent after 5 years. Federal prisoners released have a 44.7 percent re-arrest rate after five years.
Complicating matters, judges without discretionary power due to mandatory minimum sentencing are not given the latitude to decide if a lesser punishment is appropriate for under mandatory minimums. As a result, more people go to jail in the U.S. than in any other Western nation. In fact, the U.S. currently claims 25 percent of the world’s prison population, but only 5 percent of the world’s total population.