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July 29, 2015

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unlikely Coalition Agrees: Prison is a Beast

For Immediate Release: Aug 30, 2012

Contact: Joshua Busch, Communications Director
(o) 310.204.0448 x225, (c) 310.991-2503


Diverse Group of Partners Endorses New Animated Video Illustrating Damage to Communities from Overspending on Prisons

A new racially and politically disparate partnership has burst onto the national scene with the aim of reducing runaway prison growth. Coming at a time of sharp budget cuts nationwide, and uniting around the theme of fiscal sensibility, the coalition has pulled together actors from across the political sphere, with such unlikely bedfellows as civil libertarians, African Americans, law enforcement officials, and conservative evangelicals.

The catalyst for the partnership comes from a new campaign, “Beyond Bars” – launched by Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation – and the release of their animated video, “The Beast.” The video focuses on the financial resources gobbled up by the prison system, depriving communities of revenue for vital services such as education and drug treatment. Watch it HERE.

“In a time of hyperpolarization in our politics, conservatives and progressives alike are seeing the disastrous impact that the prison system has on communities,” said Beyond Bars’ Campaign Director Jesse Lava. “Every dollar spent on an excessive prison sentence is a dollar that a community can’t use to promote rehabilitation, crime prevention and education opportunities.”

Indeed, with the country pausing to reflect on national priorities during party conventions, the video shares that the U.S. spends $228 billion per year on the criminal justice system overall. And the U.S. now locks up 2.3 million people, with a higher incarceration rate and more absolute number than any other country in the world (surpassing China and Russia). More than half of all people behind bars are there for non-violent offenses.

“We’re wasting so much human potential and money on a system that is not making us safer,” said Founder and President of Brave New Foundation, Robert Greenwald. “Our coalition is saying we’re tired of waiting for change, and we’re going to join together to make it happen.”

Partners who have endorsed Beyond Bars’ “The Beast” video include: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Drug Policy Alliance, Justice Policy Institute, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Equal Justice Initiative, All of Us or None, A New Way of Life, Partnership for Safety & Justice, United Methodist Church, NAACP, Justice Fellowship.