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Educate or incarcerate? NAACP pushes states to shift priorities.

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Critics of such a policy shift raise concerns that it sends a message that crime, and its victims, won’t be taken seriously.

“To suggest that there should be no consequences or reduced consequences for hurting other people or taking their property is nonsensical,” says James Pasco, executive director of the Legislative Advocacy Center of the Fraternal Order of Police. He agrees society should do better preventing crime, but says that many of the people in jail for what the report characterizes as minor crimes actually pleaded down from more serious crimes.

A diverse set of business, law enforcement, and education leaders from across the political spectrum endorsed the NAACP's report, including Rod Paige, secretary of Education under President George W. Bush; Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus; and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

The civil rights group also unveiled a public-awareness campaign featuring airport billboards with messages such as: “Welcome to America, home of 5% of the world’s people and 25% of the world’s prisoners.”

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