U.S. prison population to reach 2 million February 15th
January 2000

According to the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), on or around February 15, 2000, the prisoner population in the United States will reach 2 million. That's right, the country with only five percent of the world's population will have 25% of the world's prisoners. The growth rate of prisoners in the 1990s was greater than in any other decade during the last century. In fact, it is 30 times higher than the growth rate of any decade before the 1970s. "As we enter the new millennium, the ascendance of prisons as our decade's major public works project and social program is a sad legacy," stated Vincent Schiraldi, Director of the JPI.

America spends $16.6 billion for welfare programs serving about 8 million people, but spends 50% more incarcerating just 1.2 million non-violent offenders. Many states are now spending more money on prisons than they are on higher education. California's ... prison system saw a 209% increase in funding during the period 1984-1994, but during the same period its funding to state universities grew by only 15%. In the past several years, California and several other states have poured huge sums into the construction of so-called "super-max" prisons, those designed as maximum security, solitary confinement facilities. In many instances, prisoners with no history of behavior problems or propensity to misbehave are being placed in solitary confinement because otherwise the facilities remain empty.

The November Coalition, an organization of citizens who are concerned about the drug war's effects on the prison population, is urging its membership and other reform organizations to gather outside their local jails or prisons on February 15th for a demonstration patterned after the national vigil project. The Coalition can provide black and white 11" x 17" prisoner stories with photographs and black and white 11 x 17 slogan signs on regular paper.

If you are willing to join this effort on Tuesday, February 15th please send an email to: Toni Leeman at tleeman@gate.net.

Regular vigil information is located on the web at: www.november.org/drugwarvigil.html

Coalition Advocating Medical Marijuana
P.O. Box 290054
Fort Lauderdale, FL 333290054
(954) 568-7175 www.medicalrights.org

People in this area plan to gather in Starke on Feb. 15. Call the number above.

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