The furry monsters on “Sesame Street,” the children’s show that has been teaching America’s youngsters about the alphabet and kindness for more than four decades, are getting a new friend: one who highlights the harsh reality of flaws in the American justice system.
Alex, a hoodie-clad creature with blue hair and a green nose, is a gloomy little Muppet who isn’t often able to visit his father. Why? Alex’s dad is one of the more than 2.2 million Americans who currently reside behind bars and a member of the larger 7 million Americans currently under some form of correctional supervision in the United States.
While “Sesame Street” is providing a likely helpful tool to help children in difficult situations cope in the form of Alex and an accompanying online tool kit for the children of prisoners.
But there is a broader issue that America’s policymakers may want to take into consideration: The United States leads the world in prisoners. In fact, with less than 5 percent of the global population, the U.S. manages to house a quarter of the world’s prisoners.
Worse yet, recidivism rates in the United States are endemic.
There are many factors that contribute to America’s burgeoning incarceration rates. According to which researcher you ask: unrelenting fervor in the Nation’s War on Drugs (even in areas that it has failed), an increase in violent crime, welfare and incarceration combining to create a revolving door for some populations, elected judges pandering for votes, a private/public prison structure that couldn’t profit without criminals and lobbies for harsher crime laws, and so on.