, 6 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Whenever someone says “but prison worked,” like @DouthatNYT does, it is essential to ask “compared to what?”

We admitted ~20M ppl to prison since 1980, and raised daily prison count by over ONE MILLION (from 300K to 1.5M).

That’s going to do SOMETHING.

But do it WELL? Well…
If you get an infection in your finger and chop off your arm, did you stop the spread of the infection?

I mean... yeah... I guess.

But maybe try an antibiotic first?

Prison is like chopping off the arm: blunt and vicious.

There were a lot of better options.
This is where @jformanjr’s work comes in.

It gets (mis)cited, too often, for the claim “see, Blacks wanted tough policing too.”

But the story is the nuance: they wanted that... at that moment. To create needed space for far more humane ways to stabilize unstable communities.
And we knew then, and know even more now, about what works better than prison.

• Policing.
• Non-police street work like Cure Violence.
• Medicaid Expansion and drug treatment.
• Restorative Justice programs like Common Justice.
Even if you’re not an abolitionist (and I don’t think of myself as one), the abolitionist framework is a powerful way to frame thinking abt what real reform is:

None of what I listed should be “the alternative to prison.”

PRISON should be “the alternative” when all else fails.
Why are stable communities stable? It’s not bc there is a cop on every corner, or the threat of that if things backslide.

So maybe policing is necessary in the short run, but our thinking should ALWAYS emphasize the need to build up communities so policing isn’t so central.
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