Momentum for corrections reform grows powerfully

Jail and prison bars

There are some issues that seem intractable, until someone in power, someone with influence, feels a personal connection to the issue and sees the light.

Gay marriage and medical marijuana come to mind. And now we are seeing something similar with corrections reform.

In the last couple of weeks, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy told a House appropriations subcommittee that the American criminal justice system “In many respects…(is) broken,” while conservative thinker and power broker Grover Norquist told a gathering of state lawmakers that tough-on-crime laws passed in the 90’s need to be reconsidered.

Both men addressed fundamental flaws in our current system, a system that indeed has lost sight of the purpose of corrections, that has a devastating impact on the lives of offenders but also families and neighborhoods, and prison policies and conditions which Kennedy called inhumane.

We can’t underestimate how hard it must be for these men, especially Norquist, to risk the fallout from supporters who care less about the impact of an unjust prison system on human lives than they do the political impact on their lives.

But the momentum for reform is growing powerfully and, we hope, unavoidably.