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tv   Incarceration Nation  CSPAN  June 3, 2017 2:17pm-2:26pm EDT

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>> to watch all of the prize-winning documentary in this year's studentcam competition, visit studentcam.org. >> she's a student in royal oak's high school. she believes criminal justice and mandatory minimum sentencing is an urgent issue in her documentary entitled "incarceration nation." take a look. >> we the highest incarceration rate in the world. we're above russia and cuba and belarus and cause expand -- kazakhstan, and our prison population has ballooned seven fold over the past 30, 40 years and the population has only gone by 15% why is that? >> i am an ex-offender. i spent three years, four months, 22 days and 20 hours and 17 minutes incarcerated. >> i spent 10 years for stealing
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a pair of gym shoes. retail fraud is what they called it. >> it is kind of like a hell hole. >> i never want to go back to prison again in my life. i starved for 14 days at a time 3 times. they didn't feed me for 14 days 3 times. why are you so skinny and small? i did not get meals. >> it is a consequence, in significant ways, of what has been called the war on drugs, to exploit what was a widespread perceived fear of the impact of narcotics, and this war on drugs was in many ways racialized. >> the laws were targeted frankly low-level street dealers and mainly from the african-american community in inner cities. >> professor michelle alexander
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wrote a book called "the new jim crow" and suggested that the number of people incarcerated, particularly african-americans, was so high that it seemed to suggest that some kind of unfair discrimination was going on in our criminal justice system. >> racial minorities in this country are still racial minorities. if you look at their percentage of representation in the general society and compare that with the percentage of their representation in the prison population, it's always substantially higher. >> the standpoint of a judge, you're always trying to apply the law. and that's our job and our responsibility. and so we can't just change the law or not follow the law, simply because of a particular social study that occurs. now, that doesn't mean that we can't consider the need to
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impose sentences that are fair. >> mandatory minimum sentencing started when congress passed the bogs act of 1951 which put a mandatory sentence on a part-time cannabis offender offense. the reform act was passed in 1984, which was intended to continue consistency in federal sentencing. >> they had what you call mandatory minimum sentences. and that means a sentence that must be a certain amount of incarceration time. >> the increasing use of statutes with mandatory minimums has contributed to the number of people in prison. >> they never provided the resources or the service. they always were more interested in locking up and throwing away the key than they have in running an efficient justice system. trump has said he's going to get tough on crime. so if he does that, there's going to be a complete reversal
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in the next year or two from decreasing the number of people incarcerated in the united states. maybe another increase of going higher and we have. at one point we had 2.1 million people under some type of criminal justice sanction. >> when you take away a judge's ability to make those kinds of decisions, then what you do is you have a one size fits all punishment that really doesn't fit everyone at all. >> for the sentencing judge not to be able to really synthesize all of that i think is frankly an injustice. >> the u.s. makes up 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prison population. we have more than people living on prisons than on college
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campuses. now that we've identified mass incarceration as a problem, what is the solution? >> some proposed legislation that was going to really look at mandatory minimums, but that legislation has kind of died on the floor. i think that would have been a start. >> one of the things which we're advocating is something called presumptive parole. presumptive parole is the idea that once a person has been sentenced, that it is presumed when they become eligible for parole, that they are eligible for parole and that, you know, the only thing that would keep them imprisoned is some behavior while they were incarcerated or some other factors which are extreme which make it clear that they should remain behind bars. >> i didn't know how to use a cell phone. my first cell phone i got in 2004 when i came home from prison.
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you know, email. there was a lot of things for people who have been in prison for a long time. so we need to bring those things inside, and be like an in reach, encourage individuals who want to get their high school diplomas, want to get their associate's degrees, want to stay out of trouble. but we must as a society determine when the punishment must stop. the parole boards, we're really to come home. we should accept them home and open up the door and give them that same opportunity to succeed. >> they were taking inmates out -- downtown to jackson community college at 11:00 at night and bringing them back at 4:00 that night. teaching like welding, electrician, teaching them building trades, stuff like that. they eliminated these programs. you had programs that would help
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people when they left prison to get good jobs and the state just , eliminated them all. if you ever want to break the cycle of going back to prison, you have to give them something while in prison. you have an opportunity to educate them. they have no other choice in here but to do these things. take advantage of it. use it. >> watch all of the prize-winning documentaries in this year's student cam competition, visit studentcam.org. >> another c-span studentcam winning video is coming up in just a moment, the first of quick reminder that immediately after the next video we will open up the phone lines to take your calls on the 2017 studentcam question, what is the most urgent issue for the
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president and congress to address in 2017? --you're a republican, independents and all others ,202-748-29028. look for your tweets and facebook comments as well. november to the funds immediately after the next studentcam video here on c-span. ♪ students at grimes community high school. their documentary on energy production and independence is entitled " "powerhouse of the prairie." >> we got together at the beginning of the project and decided that with iowa being the renewable energy capital of the world it would be easy for us to find information on the topic

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