The signature institution of any country is prison. And as the chief minister of punishment, it is tasked with grinding down individuality, vulnerability and infirmity. Without explanation, sentencing laws speak only to a term of years, never to the incarcerative experience or to the human toll. So, the mistreatments endured in confinement begin with sentencing when it fails to ask who is fit for incarceration?

Imprisonment is like a natural resource that never runs dry. It eclipses education, economics and morality. According to a government study, State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education (U.S. Dept. of Educ. 2016): “Over the past three decades, state and local government expenditures on prisons and jails have increased about three times as fast as spending on elementary and secondary education.”

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