A look at D.C.’s Mass Incarceration Problem

Captain Alexis Fecteau has been researching and learning about all things criminal justice.  One of the more intriguing topics he has come across is the mass incarceration problem that the District of Columbia is currently facing. 

Looking at the bigger picture, the U.S. has over 2 million people in correctional facilities, which is roughly 25% of the world’s prison population.  It is a huge number, especially when one considers that the U.S. accounts for only 4% of the world’s population.  It is undoubtedly a sign of a mass incarceration problem.

There have been public debates in D.C. on the issue.  The first notable one, according to Captain Alexis Fecteau, explores the legislation that seeks to reduce sentences for convicted individuals under the age of 25.  On the outside looking in, the existence of said legislation does beg for an investigation on the level of incarceration in D.C.  The Sentencing Project, a movement that seeks to make a difference in mass incarceration, has found that for every 100,000 people living in D.C., 930 are incarcerated.  This number puts D.C. in fourth place when it comes to incarceration rates in the U.S., compared to other states.

In September 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for D.C. denied the figure put forth by The Sentencing Project, noting that the incarceration rate in the area was only a third of the numbers presented.  The USAO further stated that D.C.’s incarceration rate was actually lower than most states’.  And Captain Alexis Fecteau finds this interesting, especially if the USAO is right and the numbers vastly overshoot the actual representation.

On The Sentencing Project’s end, the movement has since supported the Second Look Amendment Act of 2019.  The present law of D.C. allows convicted felons younger than 18 who received a sentence of over 15 years, to have their sentence re-examined once a part of their sentence has been served.  The Second Look Amendment Act of 2019 would raise the age of those convicted from 18 to 25.  The Sentencing Project believes that this new bill would give more people second chances to make something out of their lives in society.  Another important fact to consider, which Captain Alexis Fecteau is also hopeful for, is that those convicted change into more productive and responsible members of society, and as such will not pose a threat to the public.

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