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At the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Roundtable in Washington, D.C., I spoke with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), whose work on criminal justice reform I applaud. This session, I supported comprehensive policing reform, legislation that keeps more juvenile offenders out of adult lockups and a measure expanding employment opportunities for nonviolent ex-felons. It is important that state governments and Congress work together to modernize old approaches to crime that don't rehabilitate offenders or make us safer but do disproportionately incarcerate and marginalize persons of color.

Corey Booker r


Some facts Sen. Booker shared with us about crime and punishment in America:

  • The United States has 5 percent of the world’s total population but 25 percent of the globe’s incarcerated population.
  • In the past 30 years, the federal prison population has grown by nearly 800 percent.
  • According to the Urban Institute, the largest factor in the growth of the federal prison population since the 1980s is the length of drug sentences.
  • Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers in the United States are white, three-fourths of people in prison for drug offenses are either black or Latino.The United States spends over a quarter of a trillion dollars each year on its criminal justice system.

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