The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration. Although America is home to only about 1/20 of the world’s population, we house almost 1/4 of the world’s prisoners.
Criminologists have coined the term “mass incarceration” to capture the 500% increase in the prison population in the U.S. over the last 40 years. According to the Sentencing Project, changes in law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase. Despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety, the results are overcrowding in prisons and fiscal burdens on states.
Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “You can’t fix what you don’t know.” In this article, I hope to open your eyes to some of the faulty thinking which contributes to our current criminal justice crises so that you can be more informed and, as Proverbs reminds us, we can “speak up and judge fairly.” I admit to once having this faulty thinking until my eyes were opened to the truth.
Judge Dennis Challeen has coined the term NORP, which is an acronym for a Normal Ordinary Responsible Person who is self-reliant, understands responsibility, and knows what is morally right. The problem is that being a NORP comes with faulty thinking, which contributes to the policies and laws which currently drive our criminal justice system.
Below are some of the current faulty thinking out there, and the truth which negates these.
Faulty Thinking #1
All criminals think like NORPs, but simply choose to be irresponsible and immoral.
Truth: It may be foreign for you to think that people grow up in a family and community with a moral vacuum of responsibility. They may have …