The Adam Gopnik's The Caging Of America

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What is Just, Not What is Fair

“How did we get here? How is it that our civilization, which rejects hanging and flogging and disembowelling, came to believe that caging vast numbers of people for decades is an acceptably humane sanction?”, asks Adam Gopnik, a writer for The New Yorker in “The Caging of America”. So how did we get here? What has it done to our society? Gopnik elaborates on these questions and many more as he explicates the history of prisons, the convolution of their systems, and the detrimental consequences that prisoners are left to face. Although Gopnik undeniably articulates, “we need to take more care,” he lacks a concrete solution to the epidemic that is mass-incarceration. But in order for us to unearth this solution, we must first retrace the history of mass incarceration and reevaluate the egregious effects it has on our society.

Starting during the 1980s, when the State and Federal government were struggling to combat an extreme rise in drug use throughout the country, the “war on drugs” was declared by President Richard Nixon. “Zero tolerance” policies, “broken window” policing, and other unreasonably severe punishments were placed in society in order to barricade the dramatic influx of illegal drug use. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), these “‘one-strike’ policies and drug arrests now account for over a quarter of the 2.3 million people locked up in America.” These nonviolent drug offenders face sentences for

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