The Marshall Project

How to Fix Our Prisons? Let The Public Inside.

We need a broad national effort to recruit and place volunteers to educate and counsel incarcerated people.

Decades after the prison population began its growth surge, criminal justice reform has finally moved into the national conversation.

Last December, President Trump signed the First Step Act, reducing federal prison sentences. Democratic presidential candidates are proposing far-reaching reforms on bail, sentencing, punishments for drug-related crimes and voting rights for incarcerated Americans. New York City is set to close its notorious jail complex on Rikers Island. And Philadelphia, Chicago and other major cities have elected progressive district attorneys.

Unfortunately, what happens inside the walls of the nation’s prisons has not changed at all. They can be stifling in summer and freezing in winter. The residents are often belittled, abused and cut off from anything resembling rehabilitation., home to roughly 2.1 million people.

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