Mark Zuckerberg Just Made a Strong Statement About U.S. Prisons

October 14th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

Facebook CEO and philanthropist Mark Zuckerberg is the latest public figure to call for reforms to the U.S. criminal justice system, which he described as "an unfair, broken system."

The tech entrepreneur made the comments in a Facebook post after visiting California's San Quentin State Prison with his wife Priscilla, on Tuesday. Zuckerberg said he was inspired after reading "The New Jim Crow," Michelle Alexander's study on the disproportionate targeting and incarceration of Blacks and Latinos for non-violent drug offenses.

"Blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to be arrested for possession and sale of marijuana and to receive a conviction and criminal record, even though the majority of marijuana users are non-Hispanic whites," he wrote in the post.

Today Priscilla and I visited San Quentin State Prison. Earlier this year I read The New Jim Crow, a study of how the US...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Zuckerberg met with prison staff and inmates at San Quentin, which he said stands out for inmate programs and low recidivism rates. "San Quentin has one of the best track records of people not returning to jail in the country," he wrote. "They run programs to teach valuable skills to help inmates find jobs and avoid criminal activity." According to a photo from the visit, Zuckerberg also spoke to inmates enrolled in a coding program at the prison.

With nearly 25 percent of the world's prisoners, the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country on earth despite accounting for less than five percent of the world's population. Over the last 30 years, the nation's prison population has increased nearly 800 percent, thanks in part to destructive War on Drugs policies that also disproportionately targeted people of color.

Zuckerberg noted that there are challenges when it comes to reforming a hulking and flawed system, but he remained optimistic.

"Making our criminal justice system fairer and more effective is a huge challenge for our country," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. "I’m going to keep learning about this topic, but some things are already clear. We can’t jail our way to a just society, and our current system isn't working."

The Facebook head is not alone in his efforts.

On Wednesday, ATTN: released a new video in which New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D) explains the reasons behind the nation's bloated criminal justice system, and why we need to rethink our reliance on incarceration. Check out the video below.

It's time to end our addiction to prison. Senator Cory Booker explains why.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, October 14, 2015