Re: “Yes, Mercy can coexist with accountability in our justice system” [Aug 11, Local News]:

Marcus Harrison Green articulates our moral dilemma when we try to create a criminal justice system that balances accountability with mercy. He rightly points out that Washington state “does punishment well,” but through its three-strikes laws and its elimination of parole, “it does redemption quite poorly.”

Green supports legislation that would reinstate parole. An alternative is to end mass incarceration by revisiting draconian sentencing laws established in the 1980s during the war on drugs. These laws have done enormous harm to minority communities, created spiritual and psychological hopelessness for incarcerated people, been expensive for taxpayers, done little to promote public safety, and provide few opportunities or incentives for offenders to turn their lives around. Revision of sentencing laws can jump-start other aspects of prison reform such as improving conditions, reducing use of solitary confinement, emphasizing education and treatment programs, and providing reentry services to reduce recidivism

Green calls us to see the humanity of incarcerated people. Our current system doesn’t do so.

John C. Bean, Vashon