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We Need Sentencing Reform: An Op-Ed

In my opinion as to the main contributions to the problem of mass incarceration is the excessive sentencing and the fact that there is no parole eligibility in the state of Virginia. I speak on Virginia because I reside here. I will not minimize the fact that some brothers and sisters do violate the law of the land, which leads to their long incarceration, but in most cases it does not and has not taken an excessive sentence for a person to recognize the errors of their ways. I believe that if the incarcerated person's behavioral progress was rewarded with some sort of sentence reduction, it would help with the problem of mass incarceration. If unlawful behavior can be punishable by prison then is lawful behavior by the incarcerated not rewarded by release back into society before their release date? Because the reality of it is that there are more people working on bettering themselves while incarcerated than there are those who are not.

This problem is advocated by groups more so than by the incarcerated. The level of hope for change by those who are incarcerated is minimal, but it is not because they are hopeless. It's attributed to the fact that the incarcerated person feels hopeless. When looking at the history, whenever there has been a bill up for a vote that deals with sentence reform, the bill is never passed into law. I don't know if it is because of the lack of support or lack of importance of those in power. I understand that there are some fruitless and rotten people that may deserve an overbearing sentence, but what about the people that actually take the time to recognize the error of their ways and then correct their unlawful ways? Are they to be left in the penal system to rot with the fruitless and the rotten or should they be afforded the opportunity to show that they can and will be productive in society?

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