Lm Otero, Associated Press

I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America, the greatest country in the world.

However, I am ashamed that although The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population, we have 25 percent of the world's prison population. In 2009 our incarceration rate was 754 per 100,000 people, while Japan had a rate of 59 per 100,000. Why is there such a disparity?

Many of our prisoners simply do not deserve to spend years incarcerated. They pose no threat to society, are not in danger of re-offending and could be rehabilitated through therapy and classes that they could be required to take in lieu of incarceration.

The U.S. spends more than $70 billion a year on corrections without any clear evidence of the benefits. At a time when our country's economy is in jeopardy we should release prisoners who pose no threat to society and who could contribute to our economy rather than draining it.

Prison reform is desperately needed. It makes no sense to take such a hard line with prisoners who are in little danger of reoffending. Mass incarceration needs to come to an end.

Miriam Greenland