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Ocasio-Cortez Calls For Abolishing Prisons In The United States
U.S. House of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during the NAACP town hall at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundations (CBCF) 49th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). Moderated by political strategist & CNN political commentator Angela Rye, in conversation with fellow Representatives: Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar, addressing the 2020 census, voting rights, and the upcoming presidential election.
Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said this week that it was time for the United States to have a serious conversation about “decarceration” and “prison abolition in this country.”

“Mass incarceration is our American reality,” the former bartender tweeted. “It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery. To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country.”

Ocasio-Cortez continued, claiming without evidence: “Yesterday morning I spoke with a woman who was thrown in Rikers as a teenager. Put in solitary confinement for MONTHS, aka torture. Force-fed pills. The conditions were so bad, she too had drank out of toilets. A cage is a cage is a cage. And humans don’t belong in them.”

Ocasio-Cortez — who has spearheaded the “Green New Deal” and “Abolish ICE” movements — made the radical remarks in response to a story about a man who was sentenced to 10 days in prison because he failed to appear in court for jury duty and the judge wanted to teach him “a lesson” about responsibility.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has repeatedly portrayed herself as a victim of the political right, continued: “I know the term ‘prison abolition’ is breaking some people’s brains. The right is already freaking out. Yet the U.S. incarcerates more than anywhere in the world. We have more than enough room to close many of our prisons and explore just alternatives to incarceration.”

“First of all, many people in [jail] or in prison don’t belong there at all,” Ocasio-Cortez continued, apparently unaware of how the criminal justice system works. “Whether it’s punitive sentencing for marijuana possession or jailing people for their poverty & letting the rich free through systems like cash bail, we wrongly incarcerate far, far too many people.”

“Secondly, our prison & jail system is so large bc we use them as de facto mental hospitals, homeless shelters, & detox centers instead of *actually* investing in … mental health, housing, edu, & rehab. If we invested meaningfully, what do you think would happen to crime?” Ocasio-Cortez concluded. “Lastly, people tend to say ‘what do you do with all the violent people?’ as a defense for incarcerating millions. Our lawmaking process means we come to solutions together, &either way we should work to an end where our prison system is dramatically smaller than it is today.”

The Washington Free Beacon noted that “less than 4% of state-level offenders, and less than 1% of federal offenders, are incarcerated for any kind of drug possession, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The share incarcerated for marijuana offenses is unknown, but almost certainly a fraction of this fraction.”

“In fact, 55% of all state-level offenders—who represent 88% of all incarcerates — are in prison for violent offenses,” The Free Beacon added. “Roughly half of federal offenders are incarcerated for drug offenses, but “more than 99%” were drug traffickers, according to the BJS.”

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