The clock has started ticking.
Imagine working in a place where rats regularly skitter across the floor. Where mold climbs the walls like ivy, and floors buckle, soaked and rotted after frequent exposure to rain and snow. Picture exposed wires hanging from cracked ceilings that let water in, while you shiver under your jacket in the winter, or sweat in the sweltering heat of late spring and early fall.
If you’re like most adults reading this, and you don’t teach in a neglected inner city or rural school, it’s probably fairly difficult to imagine. After all, if your workplace had even one of these problems, your company would likely fix the issue right away in order to avoid potential conflict with OSHA or any of a number of local, state, and federal regulations.
Yet children in many places are often forced to accept conditions most adults would never be expected to tolerate. Sabrina Stevens.
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) April 17, 2016
And newsflash: The Confederacy lost! Why do we have monuments to racist losers scattered all over city property maintained w/ tax dollars?
— Melinda D. Anderson (@mdawriter) April 16, 2016
For some critics, the 1994 crime bill has come to epitomize the late-20th-century policies that sent incarceration to record levels and ravaged poor communities, taking a particularly devastating toll on African-Americans that political leaders are only now working to reverse.
History and statistics tell a more complex story, according to criminologists.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 was a composite measure, with elements reflecting opposing impulses. It offered incentives to states to build more prisons if they toughened sentences, and it added some mandatory minimum sentences to those that already existed. But it also promoted the expansion of community policing and drug courts as alternatives to jail. It established a federal “three strikes” law and expanded the federal death penalty, but outlawed assault rifles.
Some critics portray the law as a critical turning point as the country rushed to put more low-level offenders in prison, ravaging low-income communities.
But in fact, the data shows, the startling rise in imprisonment was already well underway by 1994, with roots in a federal government war on drugs that was embraced by Democratic and Republican leaders alike. Erik Eckholm