“OverCriminalized” explores alternatives to mass incarceration

151010 overcriminalizedOverCriminalized profiles three promising interventions that are less expensive than mass incarceration and that may actually change the course of people’s lives. This documentary will be shown as part of the Second Saturday Documentary Series at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont, on Saturday, October 10, at 1:30 p.m. The screening is free (donations accepted) and will be followed by a discussion.

It seems that for almost every social problem that pops up, we turn to the criminal justice system. Suffering from mental illness? Here’s a cell. Struggling with drug dependency? Let’s throw you in handcuffs. Sleeping on the street? Here’s an arrest record.

And if you are a person of color, the criminal justice crackdown can be even worse.

How could it possibly make sense to saddle police officers and prison wardens with sole responsibility for helping people get a roof over their head? Or to task lawyers and judges with treating mental illness or helping people get sober? Simply making problems into “crimes” is just making things worse.

Things haven’t changed much since 2014, when the film was produced. We know better, but not much has changed. Not only is all of this inhumane, it’s expensive. When our tax dollars are picking up the tab, it makes sense to put funds where they will make the biggest impact. Housing programs help solve homelessness. Treatment helps stabilize mental illness and end drug dependency. All too often, arrests and jail cells just waste time and money.

Come explores what’s wrong and how we might be able to make it right.

The Second Saturday Documentary Series is co-sponsored by Niles Discovery Church and the San Jose Peace & Justice Center.

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