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JPI Daily News Digest 2/20/2013

National: Inside Story Americas - The cost of America's prison industry  (AlJazeera)
There are more prisoners in the United States than any other nation in the world. The country makes up five percent of the world population, but accounts for 25 percent of its prison population. And over the last three decades the number held in US federal prisons has jumped by nearly 80 percent. So, what is the impact of the high incarceration rate on the penal system and on poor communities?

National: Incarceration rate for African-Americans now six times the national average (RT)
The incarceration rate for American-Americans is so high that young black men without a high school diploma are more likely to go to jail than to find a job, thereby causing the breakup of families and instilling further poverty upon them.“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist, told the New York Times. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”

MS: The State of Our Schools - Lacking literacy: Poor readers populate state’s prisons (Northeast Mississippi News)
Mississippi has the second highest incarceration rate in the nation. Each inmate admitted to a Mississippi detention facility is different, but state Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps says most of them have two things in common – a dependency on drugs or alcohol and an inability to read past a middle-school level.

LA: Even Louisiana is seeing that drug offenders need a break: James Gill (The Times Picayune)
It might take Louisiana 100 years to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington, which legalized marijuana possession a few months ago, but even here a liberal whiff is in the air. It is a very faint one, because, when we elected Bobby Jindal governor, the idea was not to turn Baton Rouge over to a bunch of hippies. Even though he claimed to have witnessed an exorcism, mind-altering substances did not appear to be his bag. He has always been the model of a law-and-order Republican.

IL: Prison data, court files show link between school truancy and crime (Chicago Tribune)
Of 182 boys and young men recently locked up in Illinois' three medium-security youth prisons, at least 135 used to miss so much school that they were labeled chronic truants. Nearly 60 percent couldn't even read at the third-grade level when they were booked in.

National: Long Prison Terms Linked To Increased Poverty (The Inquisitr)
Long term prison sentences are being blamed for increased poverty, according to social sciences experts. When convicted criminals are sentenced to longer prison terms, they’re ability to provide for themselves and their families greatly diminishes. While the rate of criminals on the street may be decreasing, longer prison terms mean that many men who are released are not able to adapt to the changing world around them.

GA: Juvenile Justice Reform Legislation Could Save Taxpayers Millions (WJBF)
From a murder, to fights to an escape, the Augusta YDC has seen problem after problem after problem. It might not give you comfort to know that a huge chunk of your tax dollars goes to run more than 20 similar facilities like it throughout the state. That's why Juvenile Judge Doug Flanagan is happy that Georgia House Bill 242 is gaining ground at the Capitol, "I think overall the changes are going to benefit the children and the tax payers in this state."

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