"In too many places, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men, experience being treated differently under the law."
—President Obama making the case for criminal justice reform
Click here to see President Obama's speech addressing the issue of the need to reform America's criminal justice system!
A quick look at the numbers:
- 2.2 million: The number of prisoners in the U.S. -- which has quadrupled from only 500,000 in 1980.
- 25 percent: The share of the world's prisoners that are in the U.S., even though we're only home to 5 percent of the world's population.
- 60 percent: The share of U.S. prisoners that are either African American or Latino. "About one in every 35 African American men, one in every 88 Latino men is serving time right now," the President said. "Among white men, that number is one in 214."
- $80 billion: The amount we spend each year to keep people incarcerated in America. For $80 billion, we could:
- Provide universal preschool for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America
- Double the salary of every high school teacher in America
- Finance new roads, bridges, and airports; job training programs; research and development
- Eliminate tuition at every one of our public colleges and universities
As the President noted, today's criminal justice system "remains particularly skewed by race and by wealth," and has adverse ripple effects on our country's families and communities:
"A growing body of research shows that people of color are more likely to be stopped, frisked, questioned, charged, detained. African Americans are more likely to be arrested. They are more likely to be sentenced to more time for the same crime. And one of the consequences of this is, around one million fathers are behind bars. Around one in nine African American kids has a parent in prison.
What is that doing to our communities? What’s that doing to those children? Our nation is being robbed of men and women who could be workers and taxpayers, could be more actively involved in their children’s lives, could be role models, could be community leaders, and right now they’re locked up for a non-violent offense."