OpenDoors Director speaks at symposium on mass incarceration

April 2, 2015 - 11:51am

Director Sol Rodriguez spoke on a panel at the recent "Sounding the Alarm on Mass Incarceration," symopsium at Roger Williams Law School.  Along with OpenDoors board member Luis Estrada, the two spoke about the challenges facing individuals with records.  The event was a full-day discussion, attended by approxiately 350 people, including Providence Mayor Elorza, DOC Director A.T. Wall, and most members of the RI Judiciary.  You can read more about the event in the Providence Journal and on

High incarceration rates prompt RWU forum speakers to call justice system 'broken'

By Paul Davis

Journal Staff Writer

Posted Mar. 27, 2015 at 4:41 PM

Bristol, R.I. -- The American criminal justice system is broken, said speakers at a Friday forum on mass incarceration at Roger Williams University. 

"There are too many people in prison and on probation," and too many of them are black and Hispanic, said former Superior Court Judge Judith Savage. 

About 350 people -- judges, lawyers, students, lawmakers and government officials among them -- attended the all-day forum, sponsored by the university's School of Law Review. 

On a case-by-case basis, it often seems like justice is served, Savage said. But once you step back, a different picture appears. "Once you see the forest, there's no going back," she said. 

The U.S. Incarceration rate is the highest in the world, higher than the rates in Russia and Rwanda, said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. 

From 1925 to 1972, the number of people in U.S. jails and prisons was relatively stable, Mauer said. 

But that number -- fueled by a war on drugs and tough new crime laws -- soared from around 200,000 prisoners in the early 1970s to 2.3 million prisoners in 2013, he said. 

The change in policy has had a devastating impact on black and Hispanic men, Mauer said.

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