The Republicans are having lots of fun with Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about the need to end mass incarceration in America and replace it with alternatives that don’t destroy lives, tear families apart and entrench people in poverty and desperation. Mitt Romney is just sputtering incoherently:
In her speech, Clinton argued that “without the mass incarceration that we currently practice, millions fewer people would be in poverty,” before diving into the unemployment rate of formerly incarcerated persons, and the exorbitant costs of state prisons. She called for the United States to “end the era of mass incarceration,” and discussed the failures of mandatory minimum sentences, the need to invest in probation and drug diversion programs, and the impact of high incarceration rates on African American communities in particular.
Yet, during a Fox and Friends segment, Romney attacked Clinton and even denied that mass incarceration is a real problem:
I was concerned that her comments smacked of politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there. When she said we’re not going to have mass incarcerations in the future, what is she referring to? We don’t have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel. They’re given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes?” he asked.
Uh, Mitt. There’s no need to pluralize incarceration. He bizarrely seems to think that by “mass incarceration” she meant that we try people in big groups rather than individually (in fact we do, but it’s through the plea bargaining process that now comprises nearly 95% of all convictions). Is he really that clueless? Of course we have a problem with mass incarceration, we have 25% of all the world’s prison inmates in this country, with only 5% of the world’s population.
And no, we should not be locking up everyone who commits a crime, nor should many of the things we currently lock people up for be crimes at all.