WHEREAS, in just over four decades, the number of people incarcerated in America has increased nearly five-fold, from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million; and
WHEREAS, the average prison stay in the United States is two years, with more than 600,000 people returning home from prison each year; and
WHEREAS, over half of the nation's prisoners are persons of color and incarcerated for non-violent offenses; and
WHEREAS, with the limited opportunities for employment or support, many ex offenders cycle back into prison after committing new crimes; and
WHEREAS, America spends $70 billion a year on its prisons, while dollars for prevention, treatment, education, and services to deal with the challenges that lead individuals to crime and imprisonment in the first place remain inadequate or nonexistent; and
WHEREAS, serious and violent criminals comprise only a small portion of the extraordinary expenditures on prisons and jails; and
WHEREAS, a national survey of prison wardens revealed that half of their prisoners could be discharged at no greater perceived threat to public safety.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the leaders of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics conduct a study on the racially and ethnically disparate impact of the field of crime and justice as it relates to families and communities of color, and provide recommendations to the challenges found; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls upon state legislatures to convene criminal justice task forces to enact provisions to substantially reduce their correctional populations; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 1997 resolution addressing the disproportionate numbers of African Americans in the prison population, largely as a result of the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 1989 resolution addressing the disproportionate numbers of African Americans in the prison population, largely as a result of a deficiency in sufficient legal representation for these individuals.