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Over Prioritizing, Punished and Incarceration and Under Educating

WHEREAS, simplistic "tough on crime", and "no tolerance" policies are expensive and ineffective; and

WHEREAS, these "tough on crime as well as "no tolerance" policies target and affect many disadvantaged youth; those that have psychological health issues due to birth defects or abuse/neglect, as well as the economically disadvantaged, single parent households, and minorities; and

WHEREAS, according to the newly released Misplaced Priorities report by the NAACP, state spending on prisons has grown nationally at six times the rate of spending on higher education during the last two decades; spending on prisons increased by 127 percent while spending on higher education rose 21 percent; rising prison budgets and falling education budgets are unsustainable, and we as a nation can no longer afford to invest in incarceration at the expense of higher education; and

WHEREAS, nationally there should be "smarter on crime" and "prevention and intervention" policies. Helping to reduce the number of youth committing violent and/or non-violent crimes.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP stands opposed to these "tough on crime" as well as "no tolerance" policies and practices in the United States of America and will work through the local, state, and federal legislative process to make sure that some funding for incarceration and the prison industrial system is refocused to higher education; as well support policies and practices that will study the problem, create reinvestment commissions, eliminate disparities in drug laws, increase earned time, support youth violence reduction programs, reform sentencing and drug policies, use diversion for drug-involved individuals, shorten prison terms, increase parole release rates, reduce revocations of people under community supervision, and support re-entry and the sealing of records; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will urge all of its units to work to identify and assist in supporting "smarter on crime" and "prevention and intervention" policies and practices, following NAACP procedures, and take action necessary to expose and halt those entities that engage in supporting "tough on crime" and "no tolerance" policies in our communities and states.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP adopt the recommendations of the Misplaced Priorities report as follows:

  1. Study the problem: Support federal, state, and local efforts to create blue-ribbon commissions that will conduct thorough evaluations of the criminal justice system and offer recommendations for reform in a range of areas, including: sentencing policy, rates of incarceration, law enforcement, crime prevention, substance abuse and mental health treatment, corrections, and reentry.
  2. Create reinvestment commissions: Support commissions charged with identifying legislative and policy avenues to downsize prison populations and shift savings from prison closures to education budgets.
  3. Eliminate disparities in drug laws: Support efforts to eliminate disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine at the state and federal level.
  4. Increase earned time: Support reforms that would allow prisoners to earn an earlier release by participating in educational and vocational programming as well as drug and mental health treatment.
  5. Support youth violence reduction programs: Support programs and policies to develop a comprehensive plan for implementing evidence­ based prevention and intervention strategies for at-risk youth to prevent gang activity and criminal justice involvement.
  6. Reform sentencing and drug policies: Eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses that help fuel drug imprisonment.
  7. Use diversion for drug-involved individuals: Reform prosecutorial guidelines to divert  people to treatment who would otherwise serve a mandatory prison term.
  8. Shorten prison terms: Send young offenders who would otherwise receive mandatory sentences to structured programs to help them earn their GED and shave time off their prison sentences.
  9. Increase parole release rates: Improve parole boards' ability to use evidence-based strategies when making decisions to parole prisoners, thus improving parolees' chances for success and increasing parole approval rates.
  10. Reduce revocations of people under community supervision: Develop alternative-to-incarceration programs that will reduce the number of people sent to prison for technical violations.
  11. Support reentry and the sealing of records: Support legislation that will close criminal records of certain offenders after they have not committed another crime within a certain number of years.