The United States Supreme Court amended the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act used to imprison many for non-violent offenses. This has resulted in the mass incarceration of many individuals in already marginalized communities.
A “residual clause” in the ACCA allowed third time felons to be sent to prison for any crime that ” presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” That potential risk could include drunk driving, fleeing police, failing to report to a parole officer and even attempted burglary. It seemed to be used as a catch-all sentence enhancer for the sole purpose of throwing people in prison for years longer than they deserved to be.
The lawmakers in many states are contractually required to fill up the beds in private prisons; so it’s not too hard to figure out why the ACCA is such a popular sentence enhancer. Private prisons have even been known to sue state governments if they aren’t filed to capacity- making taxpayers foot the bill for low crime rates. It’s an absolute travesty and a key piece in the conservative war against minorities and the poor, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and destroying communities around the country. Today’s ruling means Congress will have to clarify the law and you can bet that private prison lobbyists are about to throw even more money at lawmakers, but hopefully it sounds a death knell for mass incarceration in our nation.