The Time is Now for Prison Reform in America

By · Sunday, October 19th, 2008

This morning, Sunday October 19th, I woke early to watch the morning news reports and saw that supporters of Barack Obama donated more than $150 million to his campaign in September, and that General Colin Powell endorsed Obama’s campaign for the presidency.

Karl Rove’s electoral map showed that if the election were held today, Obama would win more than 300 electoral votes. Although I know the polls may tighten, I am hoping and praying for a Democratic landslide.

For today, at least, I and all prisoners have reason to hope for meaningful prison reform. If Democrats win strong majorities in both houses of Congress, and Obama wins the White House, I expect that parole and other opportunities to earn freedom will be legislated into law. America needs to use all of its resources more effectively. Warehousing humanity may serve the interests of prison lobbyists, though at more than $60 billion per year and with high recidivism rates, clearly those interests do not serve the needs of an enlightened society.

Despite having no history of violence or previous imprisonment, I have been locked inside federal prisons for longer than 21 years. I have educated myself, sustained family and community relationships, and made meaningful contributions to society through my publications. It serves no purpose for taxpayers to fund my continued incarceration, especially now that I’m confined in a minimum-security camp.

The senseless imprisonment of non-violent offenders costs taxpayers billions of dollars and incalculable losses of human capital. Our country needs change, and improvement to our prison system represents one area of reform that I welcome. I want to return home to my wife and family. I am hopeful a Democratic victory will bring meaningful prison reform.

I urge Americans to vote for Democrats on November 4th.

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