Meet the former federal prosecutor who wants to abolish prisons

Friday, February 15, 2019
  • Georgetown Law professor and author Paul Butler is a former prosecutor who has been arrested himself, standing trial for a crime that he didn’t commit. Now he’s advocating for the abolition of prisons. 
  • Today, there is a criminal class in the US. It’s disproportionately comprised of African American and Latino men. Between 1980 and 2015, the number of people incarcerated in the US increased from roughly 500,000 to over 2.2 million. The US, home to about 5% of the world’s population, now accounts for 21% of the world’s prisoners. In 2014, about 34% of that US prison population was made up of African-Americans. Blacks and Hispanics constituted 56% of individuals incarcerated in 2015, but only 32% of the total US population. 
  • These alarming figures are the result of systemic racism. 
  • “Prison reform is too slow,” he argues. Instead, he says we need to be thinking in terms of alternatives to policing and incarceration (e.g. creating a service corps that helps people in crisis but doesn’t have the power to arrest, a cap on maximum prison sentences)