It was only for a moment, but on January 20, 2015, this country's criminal punishment system got a general call for reform in President Obama's state of the union address. With 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated people, it's about time we heard this from our president. But what we didn't hear was an analysis of exactly what we can do to shrink this massive system.
While Attorney General Eric Holder and many others have urged an end to needless mandatory minimums - a good step toward decarceration - this is not going far enough. Research from a variety of nonprofits like the Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch have shown that the majority of long-term prisoners, including many who have committed the most violent acts, are actually the best bet to exit prisons and not return to crime.