Why I’m doing this…

Have a gander at this:

The blue line in the above graph shows the total number of inmates in California’s prisons each year from 1930 to 1980.

Now check out the total number of inmates in California’s prisons from 1980 to 2008:

That’s a 700% increase in 18 years!

Posted on by Luke Whyte | 12 Comments

“The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”

While America was quaking in the shadow of the ‘Great Depression’, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the podium in 42°F cloudy weather to give his 1933 inaugural address. He famously declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” before leading our nation through one of humanities’ greatest wars.

FDR’s 1933 inaugural address (View on YouTube)

FDR died before WWII ended. The America that followed would be like none he had ever known. From the Soviet Union and nuclear bombs to crack cocaine and terrorist attacks, our nation has faced very real fears.

Yet, Roosevelt’s words are today as (if not more) important than ever … more

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The silent war inside

The 1960s and ‘70s were turbulent times for our country. Crime rates were on the rise and many states began waging “wars on crime”.

“Tough on Crime” campaign commercial for Richard Nixon, 1968, who many argue was the father of our nationwide political “war on crime” (View on YouTube)

Yet we’re quick to forget, as police officers and parole agents got tougher, the streets may have gotten safer, but the war didn’t end. Instead, it continued silently, in small rooms behind locked gates, waged by underappreciated prison staffers and desensitized inmates, 98 percent of which will return to our neighborhoods.

This article is about the impact of that war in California … more

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The day the prison build-up began

The California prison population grew 874 percent between 1977 and 2007.

The reason “why” involves a variety of complex factors. Yet, at the root lies one single day: July 1st, 1977. The day California switched from what’s called indeterminate sentencing to determinate sentencing. And if you’ll stick with me, I’ll explain them both.

This image is part of a larger, dynamic visualization putting the above numbers in context. Click here (or on the image) to view it in its entirety

… more

Posted on by Luke Whyte | 1 Comment