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Reparations for “War on Drugs”?

The so called “War on Drugs” has devastated certain black communities i America. It has resulted in the highest incarceration rate in the world, and ruined the lives of millions of young people. When every statistical analysis in the last 30 years has shown that whites are 6 times more likely to use, carry, and smuggle drugs – the only way where you can get to a situation here black kids are 6-8 times more likely to be arrested and charged is intentional. And that isn’t even getting into the issue of different sentences for chemically identical “crack” cocaine and powder cocaine leading to significantly longer prison terms for crack, which happens to be predominately the form of cocaine used by the poor and black folks.

Reparations for the Drug War. Seriously.

While the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are big steps in ending a serious racial injustice, what about those already punished by the inequitable system?

As marijuana legalization expands across the U.S., the war on drugs inches closer to its long-awaited end. Hanging in the balance: those arrested or incarcerated for the drug, casualties of a war that’s been overwhelmingly waged in communities of color.

It’s one that, despite marijuana being legal in more than half the nation, is far from over. According to a report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety and Health, there was a 58 percent increase in marijuana arrests among black adolescents from 2012-2014. Among white adolescents, during the same time frame, arrests dropped eight percent.

While the federal government works to stop lawmakers from impeding on the freedoms of citizens in states where pot is legal, Oakland, California is looking to fix the damage that’s already done.

This week the city—known for uprooting the status quo—introduced a groundbreaking measure that’s been deemed “drug war reparations.”

Known officially as the “Equity Permit Program” it’s an ordinance that allocates half of its dispensary permits to people who’ve served time for marijuana violations in the last ten years, or lived in one of several zones with the highest number of arrests for the drug.

Written by councilwoman Desley Brooks, the equity program—at its core—is shattering the notion that marijuana violators are criminals. Instead, it offers them a front row ticket to a billion dollar industry fueled by the drug that once put them behind bars.

Social justice activists, while enthused by the idea, say the ordinance has problems—some of which, like a lack of financial assistance, may hinder the applicant’s ability to succeed. But its issues aside, the ordinance is nothing short of revolutionary, a piece of legislation which suggests that those struck down by pot should be the first its legalization lifts up. Oakland’s unanimous vote of approval is, if nothing else, a sign that those who’ve suffered from prohibition may soon be getting a green payback…Read The Rest Here

 

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Conservative Clown US Senator Claims US “Under-Incarcerates”

The key to being elected as a Republican anymore is to say any stupid shit that comes out of your ass. Senator Tom Cotton being one of many prime examples in the US Senate and House.

What we need to do in this country isn’t to deport Illegal aliens…We need to deport stupid. Surely we can find an unpopulated Island in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean missing it’s fools, and in need of some jackasses for wildlife.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton couldn't be more wrong: No, the U.S. doesn't have an “under-incarceration problem"

Suck on Stupid Republican Sen. Tom Cotton

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton couldn’t be more wrong: No, the U.S. doesn’t have an “under-incarceration problem”

America holds roughly 5 percent of the world’s population and boasts 25 percent of its prison population. Something like 2.2 million people are currently imprisoned in this country. Our per capita incarceration rate is 750 per 100,000 – only Russia comes close to that at 450 per 100,000. Among African-American males, it’s nearly 4,000 per 100,000.

 This is a national disgrace.

Forty or 50 years ago, the numbers were far lower than this and comparable with much of the industrialized world. But thanks to a racist drug war and the concomitant explosion of the prison-industrial complex, America has become a star-spangled penal colony, a place where an African American male without a high school diploma is more likely to end up in jail than with a job.

Mass incarceration and criminal justice reform has emerged as one of the few fronts on which bipartisan action is possible. Nearly all Democrats are pushing for changes and, lately, prominent Republicans are increasingly open to reforming the system as well. One of the lone exceptions appears to be resident tough guy, Sen. Tom Cotton.

The junior senator from Arkansas who gained national attention last year with his inane letter to Iranian leaders has now taken a curious stand on America’s prison dilemma. Turns out, we’ve really got an “under-incarceration problem.” Despite the numbers and the trends and grotesque reality of a for-profit prison system, Cotton thinks we’ve got it all backwards.

Cotton has been critical of the efforts in Congress to reduce mandatory minimum sentences, but he doubled down in a speech on Thursday at The Hudson Institute:

“Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted and jailed. Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

Cotton makes an interesting point about the pathological violence pervading American society (which, naturally, has nothing to do with our mania for guns), but that’s actually a separate issue. If anything, the fact that we’re jailing a quarter of the world’s population in spite of not apprehending the majority of violent offenders is itself a reflection of our obscene sentencing guidelines. We’re incarcerating too many citizens for victimless drug offenses and various non-violent crimes.

But Cotton thinks we’re showing too much empathy for “those caught up in the criminal-justice system.” Indeed, after perfunctorily acknowledging the racist roots of America’s felon-disenfranchisement laws, he dismissed the growing concerns over police brutality: “Let me make something clear: black lives do matter. The lives being lost to violence in America’s cities are predominantly those of young black men, with devastating consequences for their families and their communities. But the police aren’t the culprits. In nearly every case, the blood is on the hands of criminals, drug dealers, and gang members.”

No one denies that drug dealers and gangs are real problems, but that in no way diminishes the reality of a racialized incarceration system or an unjust drug war aimed at black Americans. While Cotton chooses his words carefully, his analysis is devoid of context. Yes, there are high levels of crime in urban areas, but that itself is a product of the drug war and the systematic destruction of these communities. Crime will always be higher in areas in which opportunities are scarce and the only thriving economy is a shadow economy. The focus ought to be the criminal justice system that props up these underground economies and lays waste to the surrounding communities. Much of our violent crime problem has been socially engineered; it’s about policy. Sen. Cotton shows no interest in this history…Read the Rest Here

 

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Millionaire or Felon – The Cannabis Industry vs Carceral State

Interesting video on the ONLY Black legal Marijuana entrepreneur in Colorado…

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Building the Carceral State – John Dilulio and the “Superpredators” Myth

The violent 1990’s spurred the development of a number of racial myths, from the mythical “Wilding” of NYC Youth resulting in the conviction and incarceration of 5 innocent black teens, to a Social scientist by the name of John Diiulio sensationally predicting the emergence of young sociopathic “superpredators” who would flood the streets with blood.

Like most myths – none of that ever happened. And it’s cling on to the American white psyche had more to do with racism than reality.

White racist conservatives scaring white people…Again.

12th Century “Wilding”

John Diilulio’s “Superpredator” Fear-Mongering Changed the US Criminal Legal System and Locked Away a Generation of Black Youth

Reginald Dwayne Betts – an “escapee” from the American Prison Complex

This is a story about the ginned-up “superpredator” scare of the 1990s, the imprisonment of tens of thousands of black youth, and the survival of Reginald Dwayne Betts.

In the early 1990s, John Dilulio, a Princeton political scientist, coined the term “superpredator” to call attention to “stone-cold predators,” “kids that have absolutely no respect for human life and no sense of the future.” DiIulio and co-authors described these young people as “fatherless, Godless, and jobless” and as “radically impulsive, brutally remorseless youngsters, including ever more teenage boys, who murder, assault, rob, burglarize, deal deadly drugs, join gun-toting gangs, and create serious [linked] disorders.” Criminologist James A. Fox warned of a juvenile “crime wave storm” and an impending “bloodbath” of teen violence.

Reginald Dwayne Betts was one of the teens caught up in the wave of imprisonment that resulted from these myths. Now, after a long, and sometimes tortuous journey that included eight and a half years in prison, he is now a poet, teacher and law student. He was born months before Ronald Reagan won the White House, and came of age during the Reagan/George H.W. Bush/Bill Clinton administrations, when crack cocaine saturated inner-city streets, fear reigned supreme, the criminalization of young black people became the order of the day, and “lock ’em up and throw away the key” was the criminal legal system’s mantra.

Last year, The New York Times’ “Retro Report” pointed out that the “superpredator jeremiads … proved to be nonsense. They were based on a notion that there would be hordes upon hordes of depraved teenagers resorting to unspeakable brutality, not tethered by conscience … Chaos was upon us, DiIulio proclaimed back then in scholarly articles and television interviews. The demographics, he said, were inexorable. Politicians from both major parties, though more so on the right, picked up the cry. Many news organizations pounced on these sensational predictions and ran with them like a punt returner finding daylight.”

Reality didn’t match the dire superpredator predictions: “Instead of exploding, violence by children sharply declines. Murders committed by those ages 10 to 17 fell by roughly two-thirds from 1994 to 2011, according to statistics kept by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Mugged by reality, a chastened Mr. DiIulio has offered a mea culpa. ‘Demography,’ he says, ‘is not fate.’ The trouble with his superpredator forecast, he told Retro Report, is that ‘once it was out there, there was no reeling it in.'”

Dilulio’s career, however, took off; he was suddenly viewed as an expert on issues of criminal justice. His reputation was enhanced, he was often quoted by hardliners in both political parties, and, onerous new laws were passed, including state laws allowing 13 and 14 year-olds to be tried as adults. Thousands of juveniles were sent to prison, some for life.

Dilulio later became the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under President George W. Bush. He is currently the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

What did wash over the land was the fear and loathing of black youth; the building of more prisons; the incarceration of a generation of black, poor and minority youth; and the rise of the prison industrial complex.

John Dilulio the right wing racist who helped drive the Prison Complex

Dwayne Betts survived prison and solitary confinement. He has written a memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, and two books of poetry, including the recently published Bastards of the Reagan Era. His work has been described as “fierce, lyrical and unsparing.” Betts is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, 2011 Radcliffe Fellow, and 2012 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow, and in 2012, President Obama appointed him to the coordinating council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He is now attending Yale Law School.

Nevertheless, Betts remembers the pain of prison well. Betts is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, 2011 Radcliffe Fellow, and 2012 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow, and in 2012, President Obama appointed him to the coordinating council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Last year, he wrote an essay titled “I Was 16 and in Solitary Before I Ever Even Went to Trial.” In a recent interview, “On Point’s” Tom Ashbrook asked: “Are you scarred for life by eight years in prison?” and Betts answered: “The bigger question is what do you do with the trauma you inherit?” The interview includes a quote from Dostoyevsky’s The House of the Dead: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Ashbrook noted Betts’ incisive response in his book, Bastards of the Reagan Era: “Had he [Dostoyevsky] said you judge by our crimes, this van runs off the rails and back into the Atlantic from whence we came. But see he didn’t say that. And so what does all this say about America?”

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The Cycle of the Carceral State

America incarcerates more citizens than Communist China and Russia combined. This country has the single largest prison population in the world. “Getting tough on crime” has had serious societal impact in terms of ripping apart social structures, and promoting inter-generational poverty.

Report: One in 14 children have had incarcerated parent

One in 14 children have at least one parent behind bars and children in these situations suffer from low self esteem, poor mental and physical health, and other problems, a national research organization says.

Child Trends, an organization based in Bethesda, Md., is releasing its report Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children? on Tuesday. The group hopes the findings will prod prisons, schools and lawmakers to make changes that will help young people who have incarcerated parents.

“The issue of what some people have termed mass incarceration in the United States has really attracted a lot of attention so we were interested in looking at this issue,” David Murphey, report co-author and senior research scientist at Child Trends, said in a telephone interview with USA TODAY. “We feel it’s important to put this on the radar screen” and help people “realize there’s more to it than the adults themselves,” Murphey said.

The 20-page report indicates that when it comes to black children, the number who have had an incarcerated parent rises to one in nine, and poor children are three times more likely to have had an incarcerated parent than children from higher income households. Rural children are more likely than urban children to have had an incarcerated parent, the report says. In the 6-to-11 age group, children who have had parents behind bars have problems in school, and the likelihood of such problems increases among older children, according to the report.

“Most research finds negative outcomes for these children, such as childhood health and behavioral problems and grade retention,” Murphey said. “Children who grow up with a parent in prison are more likely to suffer from poor mental and physical health in adulthood.”

The report also indicates that parental incarceration doesn’t happen in isolation. Often, children who have had a parent behind bars also have experienced other childhood traumas, such as divorce or living with a parent with a substance abuse problem, Child Trends reports. More than half have experienced divorce, compared to one in six of other children, and more than a third experienced domestic violence, compared with one in 20 of other children, according to Child Trends.

Deborah Jiang-Stein, a Minneapolis-based author and inmate advocate, was born in prison and believes that it is good that the report will likely generate conversation on the topic. Families tend not to talk about this issue, and Jiang-Stein said she has met many incarcerated mothers who have told their children they are away at college.

“The stigma and shame associated with it is haunting, so that’s why the more awareness the better,” she Jiang-Stein, founder of the unPrison Project, which empowers women and girls, and author of Prison Baby: A Memoir. “Addiction and trauma and developmental delays impact every kid that I’ve said has a parent in prison. Part of it is the loss that no one talks about. And the less we talk, the more damage it is.”

The problem is growing too, Jiang-Stein said. Ten years ago, there were 60,000 children in the country with a parent in prison. Today, there are 2.7 million, and that is due to a spike in the rate of incarcerated women, she said. She attributes this to more women responding to domestic abuse.

According to Hope for Miami, an organization that advocates for the children of incarcerated parents, such children often experience depression as well as shame at having a parent behind bars. They also are more likely to have encounters with the law themselves, the organization reports. Services to help these children are lacking and too few, the group says on its website.

Child Trends recommends reducing the stigma tied to having a parent who is incarcerated, improving communications between children and incarcerated parents, and making prison visits less stressful for children by creating child-friendly visiting areas and relaxing security procedures for children.

The organization based its report on data taken from the 2011-2012 National Survey ofChildren’s Health, a telephone survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Data was collected between Feb. 28, 2011, and June 25, 2012. The survey included 95,677 interviews.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in American Genocide

 

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Police Chief Support for Smarter Sentencing Act

The US System of incarceration as a system of political and racial control has failed. To begin to straighten the mess out, President Obama has proposed “The Smarter Sentencing Act”.

 

A New Approach to Criminal-Justice Reform

As the Smarter Sentencing Act nears its vote, a new group of police chiefs and prosecutors hopes to influence the debate.

Criminal-justice reform is taking a significant step forward this week. On Wednesday, more than 130 police chiefs and prosecutors announced a new organization with the goal of curtailing mass incarceration. President Obama willhost a discussion with its members and the Marshall Project on Thursday, while the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the Smarter Sentencing Act, which hopes to reform mandatory-minimum sentencing and the federal prison system.

The group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, is a project by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan policy institute that specializes in legal and criminal-justice issues. The new group’s membership includes NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Cook County District Attorney Anita Alvarez, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey.

“We know firsthand that more incarceration does not keep our country safe,” Garry McCarthy and Ronal Serpas, the group’s co-chairs, wrote in a USA Todayop-ed on Wednesday. “Our experience and research show that good crime control policy is not about locking up everyone. It’s about locking up the right people.”

The group’s four main issues draw upon many of the themes that have animated criminal-justice reform. They note that “more than 50 percent of prison and jail inmates have a diagnosed mental illness, and 65 percent of prisoners meet medical criteria for substance abuse and addiction,” citing successful efforts to rework the system in Miami’s courts. They praise California’s Proposition 47, which reduced a broad swath of nonviolent drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, as well as sentencing reforms in Georgia, Kentucky, and New York. And they cite the need for closer relationships between law-enforcement agencies and the communities they serve…

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Strange Justice in Mississippi – Black Judge Fired For Not Convicting Enough People

The strange case of Judge Ricky Thompson, and the Mississippi Judicial system…

It would seem the New Jim Crow System of a carceral state functioning to deprive minorities of their voting and other rights, and to keep them in their place is in full force in Mississippi.whether in Ferguson, Mo, or Harris County, Texas – the forces of supposed “Law and Order” have become nothing more than the instruments of the Modern Jim Crow. This system functions to suppress minority voting, having the same effect as the Old Jm Crow era Poll Tax through disenfranchisement.

 

Judge Thomson, center at rally to support his judgeship

Whites Quit Working With Black Mississippi Judge, Then He Got Sacked

Rickey Thompson started a drug court to start treating offenders and stop imprisoning them. Then he says officials quit sending him offenders altogether.

A black judge in Mississippi claims he was removed from office following years of resistance from a mostly white legal system to his push to treat drug offenders instead of imprisoning them.

Justice Court Judge Rickey Thompson of Lee County—named for Confederate general Robert E. Lee—is the first and only black judge in the county’s 149-year history. In May, the Mississippi Supreme Court removed him from the post that he’s held since 2004 over a slew of misconduct allegations.

“It came to the point where they couldn’t beat me at the ballot, so they had to find another direction,” he said. 

Thompson said the sheriff quit sending him suspects and fellow judges quit sending the accused to his drug court. Warrants he signed for the sheriff’s department went unserved. A bailiff even once refused to open his court. 

Officially, Thompson was found by Mississippi’s highest court to have violated several rules, including what amounts to making clerical errors like using the wrong form when filing paperwork. That should not be surprising given Mississippi requires only a high school diploma to be a justice court judge. (Thompson, a registered nurse with an associate degree, has more education than that of his fellow justice court magistrates.) 

Thompson’s crimes include speaking up for a bail bondsman who had been previously suspended from operating by the sheriff; preventing a drug court defendant from choosing her own attorney over one he advocated for; keeping some people in drug court longer than the two years allowed by state law; wrongly incarcerating four people.

The last charge is the most important: When a handful of offenders violated the drug court’s rules, Thompson found them in contempt of court and sent them to jail. The longest sentence was six months.

If Thompson hadn’t created his drug court in the first place, the four people he locked up for contempt would have almost surely been in prison longer than they would have been for their drug offenses. That means Thompson was kicked off the bench, in part, for not locking up drug offenders for longer than he did.

The judge was popular with blacks in the county, and he kept quite a few of them out of jail for minor offenses like marijuana possession. The sheriff evidently wanted to see them in his jail or prison.

“When I first started, obviously there was a learning curve, but you see some of the bad things that are going on,” Thompson said. “And as people got to know me and know that I was going to be fair, that I wasn’t going to be a rubber stamp, that’s when the trouble started.”…More on the story here…

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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