WE THE UNDERSIGNED WOULD LIKE TO BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING PROBLEM:
In 2007, it cost taxpayers more than $26,000 per inmate to incarcerate an offender for a year in North Carolina. Prison rolls are swelling, non-violent offenders are taking up beds that could otherwise be used for violent offenders, and mentally ill inmates outnumber those in mental health hospitals four-to-one.
We need to take the necessary steps now to ensure that our criminal justice system is a place to help reform those who are incarcerated for violent crimes. Those offenders which are not violent offenders are the ones that need consideration for early release and not to simply hold them until their sentences are finished for crimes that were not violent and were unfairly made too long.
The United States, despite comprising 5% of the world population, incarcerates 25% of the world's reported prisoners. Police forces are not only tasked with fighting crime, but also keeping neighborhoods and municipalities safe from terrorists while facing the burden of uneven immigration enforcement and the ever growing problem of drug dealers.
Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. According to data supplied to Congress' Joint Economic Committee, those imprisoned for drug offenses rose from 10% of the inmate population to approximately 33% between 1984 and 2002.
Experts estimate that this increase accounts for about half of the dramatic escalation in the total number imprisoned over that period. Yet locking up more of these offenders has done nothing to break up the power of the multi billion-dollar illegal drug trade. Nor has it brought about a reduction in the amounts of the more dangerous drugs-such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines-that are reaching our citizens and in our schools.
Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. Indeed, four out of five drug arrests were for possession of illegal substances, while only one out of five was for sales. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in our state prisons were there for nonviolent or purely drug offenses.
It is time for the Criminal Justice System to become effective and work for the best interest of all states in a more uniform system.
Too many have served too long for first time, non violent, type crimes with no violence. Parole is used for several reasons. It is less expensive to supervise a parolee than to incarcerate a prisoner. A person on parole has an opportunity to contribute to society. At the same time, society still receives some protection because the parolee is supervised and can be revoked for the most minor of transgressions. Parole is also a method of rehabilitation, because it gives convicts supervision and guidance during their reentry into society. But the parole system is also flawed and needs a major overhaul, too, in how it operates.
Sentences of 25 to 50 years are being served for crimes like breaking, entering and larceny often because a Judge wanted to make an example of someone or the DA had a bad day and felt bad or the court appointed lawyer was late for the golf course. No violence as child abuse, rape or murder. Drug users serving time in our prisons are themselves victims of the drug dealers who sell the drugs. Yet many are serving excessive sentences and the dealers are not while child molesters, rapists and murders are serving less time, getting paroles and these other people have to suffer the longest.
One example of how our justice system is working:
1. A youth, who had escaped an attempted break in and had committed additional offenses before his arrest was placed on probation with no prison term.
2. His two companions, that were caught at the scene of the attempted break in, were each sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
3. This was from the same court, several weeks apart, different Judges, same DA.
I am beginning this petition on behalf of James S. Shaver and all others who are spending excessive amounts of time in prison under the old laws ending in December of 1995. Their crimes that did not endanger others and they are not repeat offenders. These were young people then who are still serving time which should now be over and many should be released.
James Shaver, who voluntarily admitted his guilt and turned himself in, was sentenced 52 years for Breaking, Entering and Larceny to support a drug problem by a court that wanted to make an example of him. The irony of this is that many of the dealers he bought from have come and gone serving small sentences many times and are repeat offenders over and over and still today selling drugs as usual. James is in his 15th year of time served of 10 year each box-car sentences which total 52 years time to serve. He and many just like him have paid their debt to society.
Why are we paying $26,000 a year on people for non violent crimes serving excessive, long sentences when we don't need to?
I believe that a change needs to be made and our judges take back control of their courts looking at individuals on case by case basis. Instead, prosecutors are dictating the sentences and are often not proportionate to the
crime committed. Judges are slowly loosing the power to do their jobs. Help stop the threat to judicial discretion.
YOU can make a difference, WE, together as one voice, can make a change.
If you believe that The US Criminal Justice System needs a major overhaul, please sign this petition. Thank you.
We support judicial discretion because the punishment must fit the crime and offender in every case. We want the drug dealers in prison and off our streets. We want you to consider the '3 Strikes Your Out' system to keep violent and repeat offenders in prision and quit letting them back out.
Alternative sentencing for defendants who suffer true, mental illness or substance abuse addiction would reduce the prison population and they could be supervised and treated in their own communities and not housed in prison cells, the benefits would be many and not only monetary. These are not hardened crimals and should not be in prison serving the same amount or more time as the violent ones are.
Our present system has not worked in a very long time. We ask for you to look at the entire system and make recommendations.