Ban the Box is the campaign by some social advocates aimed at removing the question of former convictions from employment applications. Since there is often no distinction between the different convictions, whether they were petty crimes or something as extreme as murder, and regardless of when the applicant was released. Michelle Alexander believes that ex-convicts coming out of prison are presented with many challenges to reinstate themselves in society, one of which lies in the job application questionnaires. I believe that instead of banning the box, it should be expanded to include further information about the applicant and their convictions then if the applicants provide the sole fact that they have been convicted and the details behind the detainment.
Mandatory minimum sentences mean that one will receive the harshest sentence available under the law, so they are pressured into accepting the plea that the prosecutor wants. Because of this, according to Alexander, almost 98% of cases turn out with a plea instead of a trial, contributing to the high incarceration rates in the US. Furthermore, she notes that this system disproportionally affects impoverished people, who are unable to defend themselves when arrested. Moreover, the strategies are often aimed at people of color, making use of unconscious biases and stereotypes, worsening the quality of life and the possibility of justice for those arrested. I don’t think all drug offenses should be treated equally – for example, there is no reason for a casual weed smoker to get the same minimum sentence as a meth dealer.
The Corrections Corporations of America, which is the largest private prison company in the US, sent a letter to 48 governors, offering to buy all of their state-run prisons. However, in exchange, it required a guarantee that the prisons would be at least 90% filled at all times. Although making sense in the commercial sense, the condition is completely ridiculous and showcases the soul-less capitalist mindset of the US. By stating such a condition, CCA implies that it does not matter how much actual crime happens as long as it is good for their business. Furthermore, it does not treat the prisons are either temporary or correctional. Instead, it treats them as a business and the people as objects used to gain more money. This kind of attitude is incredibly damaging to the community and American society and is both the product and the cause of the individualistic, mistrusting, and disloyal culture.
“Michelle Alexander: Locked Out of the American Dream.” YouTube, uploaded by Moyers & Company, Web.