Recently I read an article from The American Prospect titled “The Road to Ending Mass Incarceration Goes Through the DA’s Office.” Within the piece, the author discusses the current state of America’s prison system and how it disproportionately affects black people as a whole. What stood out to me about this article was how the author described the roles that prosecutors play in contributing to mass incarceration. In particular, the author states that “prosecutors bring charges, propose bail, shape plea deals, and specify penalties with little effective resistance from defense attorneys, grand juries, or judges. The district attorney’s office has become the nerve center of the penal state, the place where the ideals of American justice are translated into the realpolitik of penal control.” This stark realization makes it painfully obvious that the current prison system is initially set up for those to fail, rather than to have a chance to succeed.
In my opinion, Mass incarceration came into existence when America abandoned the War on Poverty and chose to treat social problems and wayward lives as problems for police, prosecutors, and prisons. Unless a radical change can be triggered that would bring about a transformation within America’s urban policy, then I find it very difficult to believe that these rising trends of imprisonment will cease.