1997-02 Injustices Caused by Overcrowding

The National Convocation believes that the criminal justice system should be restorative. The present criminal justice system has failed in this regard. The Convocation calls for a moratorium on building new jails, prisons, and detention facilities. The Convocation calls for the reallocation of prison-building funds, which need to provide alternatives to incarceration as well as to fund crime prevention and prisoner reintegration.

Prevention should focus on adequate public education, parenting classes, and other educational enrichments. Alternatives to incarceration should included victim/offender programs, house arrest, community service, substance abuse programs, vocational training, and access to adequate mental health care. Programs for reintegration should include tax incentives to private employers for hiring former prisoners and small-business loans to former prisoners, as well as other employment incentives. We call for adequately funded housing and mentoring programs as well as continuing substance abuse counseling and mental health care.

To bring about these changes in funding priorities, the convocation urges its members to send letters to the appropriate state legislating committees, work with other similarly concerned groups and share concerns and initiatives with other convocations participants.