“Fed Up” Will Fail

Today’s press conference on Mayor Strickland’s “Fed Up” initiative–this is very problematic and disappointing. There is no data supporting that longer sentences reduce crime, better rehabilitate incarcerated individuals or anything of the sort.  Offenders subject to mandatory minimums typically spend twice as much time in prison as individuals who were not for the same offense. It is truly infuriating that most jurisdictions are winding back the terrible criminal justice policies that contribute to mass incarceration, or at a minimum are attempting to fix them, while Memphis leaders and the state of Tennessee insist on taking us right back to the failed policies of the War on Drugs by promoting crap like mandatory minimums and truth in sentencing provisions.
 Fed Up
This announcements means that the City will spend $600,000 over the next few months, in a poor-resourced city, to tell potential offenders that they will be locked up longer if they commit gun crimes.  As a tribute to this terrible policy, I’m listing a few things we should truly be “fed up” with, please feel free to add to the list…
•False media and political narratives about people of color and crime
•The denial of the importance of considering individualized situations of alleged offenders in sentencing, parole and charging decisions
•Policies that are not driven by data or proven to be effective at anything but locking folks up
•Failure to recognize the connections between education, job opportunity and crime
•Lack of meaningful rehabilitative services in detention centers contributing to high rates of recidivism
•Education as low in priority nationally, statewide and locally
•The justice system’s systemic dehumanization of people of color and the incarcerated LGBTQ community
•Separate justice systems based on race and income
•Criminalizing poverty and mental disability
Like all initiatives that refuse to focus on the socio-economic causes of mass incarceration, this “Fed Up” initiative will fail and only succeed in wasting $300,000 and rallying up “tough on crimers.”