July 2023

July 2023 Cover

What measures can the United States take to reduce mass incarceration while maintaining a criminal “justice” system that functions effectively? This issue was curated by NACDL’s Decarceration Committee and includes feature articles and book reviews by members of the committee.


Articles in this Issue

  1. Affiliate News

    What events are NACDL affiliates hosting this month? Find out here.

    Jessica Stepan

  2. An Uneasy Journey

    The brother of NACDL member JoEllyn Jones was murdered in 1998. Ryan Young was released from prison in 2013, and she ran into him at a restaurant. This was her chance. For years, she rehearsed everything she wanted to say, imagining that she would curse him and tell him that he had torn her family apart. At that moment, however, something inside her shifted. JoEllyn asked Ryan if they could work together – and the healing began.

    JoEllyn Jones

  3. Book Review: Mass Incarceration Nation by Jeffrey Bellin

    This month Robert Sanger reviews Mass Incarceration Nation: How the United States Became Addicted to Prisons and Jails and How It Can Recover by Jeffrey Bellin.

    Robert Sanger

  4. Book Review: Prisoner of Politics by Rachel Elise Barkow

    This month Sonya Pfeiffer reviews Prisoner of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration by Rachel Elise Barkow.

    Sonya Pfeiffer

  5. Book Review: Wilkes Syndrome by Charles Sevilla

    This month Al Menaster reviews Wilkes Syndrome: Trials of a Defense Attorney by Charles Sevilla.

    Al Menaster

  6. Can We Wait 75 Years to End Mass Incarceration?

    To achieve a meaningful decarceration (i.e., reducing the number of people in correctional facilities), policymakers must reduce prison admissions and scale back sentence lengths – both for those entering prisons and those already there. The growing movement to take a “second look” at unjust and excessive prison terms is a necessary first step. As the country grapples with an uptick in certain crimes, ending mass incarceration requires accelerating recent reforms and making effective investments in public safety.

    Nazgol Ghandnoosh

  7. Correctional Reform: The Norwegian Model

    Norway stands out as an innovator in corrections reform. The Scandinavian country is increasingly being studied for its success not only in improving living and working conditions for both individuals in custody and staff, but also because of its significantly lower recidivism rates. In Norway, life in prison resembles life outside as closely as possible. People in custody often wear their own clothes, cook in communal kitchens, and live in spaces that look more like dorm rooms than prison cells. Could this work in the United States?

    Jerome F. Buting

  8. Decarcerating Our Communities, Psyches, and Practices

    How Holding Space, Education, Empowerment, and Speaking Truth to Power Can Deconstruct a Racist System

    The United States incarcerates the most people of any country in the history of the world – and it has chosen whom to incarcerate, starting with people of color first. Oregon defense attorney Justin Rosas writes that any effort at creating a just society is going to involve decarcerating our society, accepting the invitation to truly hear one another, and speaking truth to power about the racial injustice the system was designed to inflict on communities.

    Justin Rosas

  9. From the President: Thank You

    The public’s idolization of the law enforcement industry serves as an impediment to reform. It blinds us from addressing the misdeeds of individual bad actors.

    Nellie L. King

  10. NACDL News: Broad Coalition Launches to Restore the Constitutional Right to Trial

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  11. NACDL News: Calling Out Florida Prosecutor’s Memo on Seeking Tougher Penalties for ‘Hispanic’ People

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  12. NACDL News: Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Bestows Award on Lisa Wayne

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  13. NACDL News: Decrying Louisiana Bill to Create a Crime of Approaching On-Duty Law Enforcement Officer

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  14. NACDL News: James Willis Receives Lifetime Achievement Award From Nation’s Defense Bar

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  15. NACDL News: NACDL Commends President Biden’s Commutations, Calls for Further Action

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  16. NACDL News: NACDL Day in Cincinnati!

    NACDL News for July 2023

    Jessie Diamond, Kate Holden, and Jonathan Hutson

  17. The Fight Against Mass Incarceration

    Some people believe that mass incarceration is not a bad thing. It is. Mass incarceration is a public health hazard, promotes racism, increases the wealth gap, strains the economy, and increases crime and violence. It is unjustly meted out according to wealth and privilege, and often is most harshly used against the most vulnerable. How can the United States overcome its addiction to incarceration?

    Jacqueline Goodman

  18. Torture on Our Watch: A Call to Conscience

    While often justified as a way to deter violence inside facilities, solitary confinement is more often used to punish non-violent transgressions such as dress code violations, refusal to work, or lack of respect toward correctional officials. Despite the failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to find that solitary confinement per se violates the Eighth Amendment, increasing numbers of stakeholders, including correctional officers, have called for its abolition.

    Jacqueline Goodman