Last week during CPAC, Reason contributor Jon Utley presented Pat Nolan of Justice Fellowship with the Freda Utley Prize for Advancing Liberty. In his prepared remarks, Utley noted:
The United States today has more persons in prison or in its criminal system than any other nation in the world. About half are for victimless crimes, minor parole violations, and extremely long sentences under mandatory minimums. Prison guards have become a powerful labor union lobby seeking more prisons and prisoners. Prosecutors use the threat of long sentences to get innocent persons to confess to crimes they did not commit, even for environmental crimes or for political activity. The drug war and threats of terrorism have been used to vastly expand the prison powers of government….
Pat Nolan has helped bring together a coalition on both the Right and the Left towards reforming our criminal justice system. He helped Congress to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act. He helped bring about the Statement of Principles signed by top, top conservatives to bring about reform in our system which now creates more criminals, destroys countless young peoples' lives, and is contributing to the bankruptcy of America.
The Freda Utley Foundation was founded in memory of Utley's mother, Freda, and his father, Arcadi Berdichevsky, who was executed in Vorkuta, Russia during the reign of Stalin. For more on the foundation, go here. The prize is awarded annually by the Freda Utley Foundation in conjunction with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
And to watch "Return to the Gulag: Jon Utley's search for his father," a harrowing documentary that ends in a killing field outside the Vorkuta prison camp, go here.