Four out of five are black or Hispanic. Virtually all are poor. Many had dismal legal counsel. Some were convicted of crimes committed when they were juveniles or very young adults.
These people are victims of the United States’ disastrous experiment in mass incarceration. From the 1930s through the early 1970s, we incarcerated people at a steady rate. Since then, incarceration rates have roughly quintupled. This country now imprisons people at more than five times the rates of most Western countries.