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prison reform

Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Last week, President Obama commuted the prison sentences of 61 people serving time under "outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws" for drug offenses.

The president has commuted 248 sentences so far, including 92 life sentences.

user Kate Ter Haar / Flickr

Yesterday we heard from an ex-con about what it was like for him to transition from life behind bars to life on the outside. He says having a mentor helped a lot – someone to whom he felt a true sense of responsibility – and he didn't want to screw it up by doing something bad and winding up back in prison. 

I asked a handful of other former inmates to share their advice for those who are about to or are in the midst of transitioning back into society. Here are their answers:

What advice would you give to inmates who are about to re-enter society?

Research points Michigan toward juvenile justice reform

Aug 21, 2015
Kashfi Halford / Flickr Creative Commons

 Michigan has more reasons now than ever before to consider juvenile justice reform. Something to add to the list: a report released this week by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The report zeroes in on what deters kids from committing crimes in the first place. Most of what we know about recidivism is based on adults. Very few studies have been done with juveniles – until now.  

user miss_millions / flickr

If you're 17 and you commit a crime in Michigan, you are automatically sentenced as an adult. You can't even vote yet, and you're sentenced as an adult. There are only nine states that try 17-year olds as adults, and Michigan is one of them. According to The Marshall Project, there seems to be some momentum to "raise the age" of an adult from 17 to 18 in North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin.

flickr.com/katerha

Over the weekend, The Washington Post published an analysis of every shooting death at the hands of a police officer since the start of the year. The Post found that the number of officer-involved shooting deaths is approaching 400 nationwide for the year, a number that's about twice as high as what you'd expect if you believe the existing statistics on deaths caused by police officers (most people don't). 

The Post has plenty of details within the numbers worth checking out, but still the most surprising part of this analysis is that it had to be done at all. Even with this analysis now available, it's clear that the number of things we don't know about violence involving police officers far outnumbers the things we do know.