The Worst news of the week depends on what worst means. If worst means how you feel then anything that made you feel the worst will do. But if you are looking for a more general standard then worst should be what does the most damage, the most harm, the most hurt. My nomination for that dishonor is the order of Jeff Sessions, following his master Donald Trump, to essentially throw the book at nonviolent drug offenders. These are the people Obama released from prison. But he only released a small number of these offenders.

Getting one thing straight

The first thing to know is that nonviolent drug offenders are a small fraction of the more than two million who make our prison system essentially another state of our union. It is a failed state. What makes it fail is precisely the attitude that trump and Sessions are putting into place as policy. We have the highest incarceration rate of any country. It is moving in the direction of one in a hundred Americans. It is much more than that if you add in former prisoners and folk on probation and parole. The harm in our prison system is the system itself.

Law and harm

Crime is harm there is no doubt. Compounding harm is not the answer to crime. But it is exactly what prisons do.

By creating communities of the damned you create worse damnation.According to Axios, the Sessions edict "cancels the Obama administration's attempts to pull back on harsh sentencing strategies, which had produced a huge growth in prison populations." The harm in prisons is that they take palpable damage and intensify it. The result is more harm than good.

The proof

Two-thirds of those imprisoned are re-arrested in three years, three-quarters within five, When these return to prison, more than half are rearrested in a year. The inference is clear enough. Prison is inadequate as presently designed. Our approach to crime is the root of the problem. There is a reason why the system persists and it is shameful.

A system that breeds harm is profitable to all who get paid to serve it, selling products and staffing the institutions.


We should acknowledge that prison is for the poor mainly. The better off you are the more chance you have of avoiding prison. We should substitute serious counseling and redemptive communities for crime factories based on punitive practices. We should make restitution a standard activity necessary to the attainment of whatever a passing grade might look like. We are far from this, but it is the right direction.