Obama to Use Political Capital to Fight the Prison Industrial Complex?

I doubt it, but here’s my transcript from the 7:40 mark of an interview of New Jersey mayor Cory Booker by Rachel Maddow. When asked by Maddow if Obama would be best served by fighting for liberal issues early in his first term, Booker replied:

Look I was told that about one of the biggest problems in America right now, that is we are wasting blood and treasure in the prison industrial complex.

 

Love the use of “blood and treasure”. First, decriminalization and/or massive reductions in penalties for drug offenders will come when politicians explain how much it’s costing their constituents to lock up non violent addicts for decades.

 

Second, the War on Drug Users is indeed a War that costs not only tons of money, but costs us in blood. That’s true both in terms of ridiculous SWAT type raids where innocent civilians and police officers are killed by each other, and frankly in terms of sentencing non violent defendants to years or decades or lifetimes in prison.

 

Third, it’s just a nice use of the phrase that we hear bandied about in discussions about the Iraq War. But to continue with Mayor Booker’s point:

 

And people told me this was a ‘left’ issue. You can’t talk about reducing the amount of prisons or helping guys when they come back.

 

I’m now a mayor in a majority African-American city that has the Manhattan Institute partnering with me on ex offender re-entry because I didn’t sell it as an ideological issue – I sold it as an American issue: that we are wasting billions of dollars in the State of New Jersey warehousing people, where if we do simple basic things to empower their lives, not only do we lessen our prison population, the cost of that, but we create taxpayers…

 

Warehousing people indeed. And, to mesh his points together, it’s awfully expensive – never mind possibly immoral – to “warehouse” people who haven’t done any harm except sometimes unto themselves.

 

I don’t really have much actual hope that our president-elect will choose to spend much of his newly acquired political capital on these issues, but it’s nice to hear the possibility of it at least raised in sensible conversations.

 

Here’s the video clip:

 

 

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Jamie Graham - July 15, 2010 12:30 PM

Jamie Graham

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