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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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The War on Drugs? No – The War on Black People

Former DEA Agent lays it out…Between whitened juries, inability to pay for legal defense, the forced plea bargain deals – the War on Drugs has been the biggest carceral system imprisoning black folks since slavery.

DEA Agent Was Told Not To Enforce Drug Laws In Rich Communities

“WHAT I BEGAN TO SEE IS THAT THE DRUG WAR IS TOTALLY ABOUT RACE.”

In a new video by Brave New Films, Matthew Fogg, a former US Marshall and DEA Agent, speaks out about his time on the task force which specialized in fighting the “war on drugs”.

Fogg first speaks about his time as a teenage volunteer for his local police department, saying he used to park their police cruisers and drive them around the block. He said he knew then law enforcement was his destiny. He started as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency and earned the nickname Batman, because he felt like he was policing Gotham city.

We were jumping on guys in the middle of the night, all of that. Swooping down on folks all across the country, using these sorts of attack tactics that we went out on, that you would use in Vietnam, or some kind of war-torn zone. All of the stuff that we were doing, just calling it the war on drugs. And there wasn’t very many black guys in my position. 

So when I would go into the war room, where we were setting up all of our drug and gun and addiction task force determining what cities we were going to hit, I would notice that most of the time it always appeared to be urban areas. 

That’s when I asked the question, well, don’t they sell drugs out in Potomac and Springfield, and places like that? Maybe you all think they don’t, but statisticsshow they use more drugs out in those areas than anywhere. The special agent in charge, he says ‘You know, if we go out there and start messing with those folks, they know judges, they know lawyers, they know politicians. You start locking their kids up; somebody’s going to jerk our chain.’ He said, ‘they’re going to call us on it, and before you know it, they’re going to shut us down, and there goes your overtime.’

Drugs are something that affect all races. Drugs are everywhere. For the DEA to only target urban areas (which are typically predominantly Black populations), something far more polarized is taking place.

Since the DEA was formed in 1986, the agency reports a total of 847,553 people have been arrested. There is also a total absence of demographic information on their website, which means there is no oversight on racial bias in targeting drug crime.

When a black female attorney for the Pentagon was stopped by DEA agents in an airport for suspicion of narcotics use, this prompted the inspector general (IG) for the Justice Department to review the DEA’s practices regarding “cold consent.” Cold consent is when a DEA agent approaches a person based on no particular behavior, or based on suspicion the person is using drugs. The IG found that no demographic data was collected on cold consent interactions. This means the DEA could be stopping people based solely on their race and no one would know.

But Fogg knew:

What I began to see is that the drug war is totally about race. If we were locking up everybody, white and black, for doing the same drugs, they would have done the same thing they did with prohibition. 

They would have outlawed it. They would have said, ‘Let’s stop this craziness. You’re not putting my son in jail. My daughter isn’t going to jail.’

If it was an equal enforcement opportunity operation, we wouldn’t be sitting here anyway. It’s all about fairness, man. And understanding ‘How would I want to be treated?’ Whether I’m on the one end or the other end. How would I be treated if everything was done equally?

After Fogg retired from law enforcement, he went on to file an EEO and Title VII racial discrimination complaint with the U.S. Justice Department in 1998 claiming he worked in a “racially hostile environment” that did not promote black people fairly and was awarded $4 million. In 2011, Fogg formed the Bigots with Badges group and became their President. He was invited by the CATO Institute on C-SPAN to discuss police misconduct. He continues to this day to fight racial bias in the Justice System.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Black Juveniles Caught in Carceral System

This one is about the school to jail system in St Louis County, Missouri. St Louis County is not an exception – it is a lot closer to the norm than many would like to think..

Racial disparities eist at almost every level – from who is charged for what, the severity of the crime charged for, decisions as to who may be granted bail and must be held in detention – to access and availability of legal representation. Indeed, the entire legal system in America is corrupt.

As such, the BlackLivesMatter movement is much more than just a movement in response to police overreach and brutality – it is, and mst be, a reaction to a system which is broken from top to bottom. The “Justice” systemhas failed, and is now nothing more than legalized, state sponsored, Domestic Terrorism.

American “Justice” – Slavery by another name.

Children Caught in a Racist System

The Justice Department cast the St. Louis County, Mo., law enforcement system in a harrowing light in March when it documented entrenched racism and unconstitutional policing in the town of Ferguson, which erupted in riots last year after a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

Now comes another Justice Department report, issued last week, documenting equally deplorable violations in the county’s juvenile court system, where children, often without basic legal representation, are routinely railroaded and mistreated.

The department opened the investigation in 2013 to protect the constitutional rights of children in the justice system and to discourage unnecessary incarceration. The department has undertaken similar investigations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

In St. Louis County, officials examined 33,000 juvenile court cases over a three-year period and found that the system regularly treats black children more harshly than white children and routinely denies indigent children — no matter their race — basic constitutional rights.

After controlling for relevant factors, including the severity of the offenses involved, a Justice Department analysis found that “black children are subjected to harsher treatment because of their race.” For example, black children were two-and-a-half times as likely as white children to be held in custody before their trials.

Black children were also more likely to be placed in the custody of the juvenile system than white children were and less likely to be diverted into community-based programs. White children were significantly more likely to get less restrictive sentences, like probation with services provided to them at home. This disparate treatment may not be intentional, but it is clearly racist in its effect.

The Supreme Court has ruled that states must provide lawyers to defendants who can’t afford them and that juveniles have the same rights as adults. But the very structure of St. Louis County’s family court system seems designed to deny due process and representation.

The children who go before the court do not get a truly independent advocate who looks after their interests. Investigators found that low-income children, who are legally entitled to court-appointed representation, are shortchanged at every turn.

For starters, there is only one public defender for juveniles in the entire county. A result is a staggering caseload for that one lawyer, who cannot possibly meet the needs of hundreds of children. For some who are not eligible for the public defender’s services, a family court judge will appoint a lawyer and order the parents to pay a “retainer”; often, cash-strapped parents persuade a child that no lawyer is necessary. Moreover, more than half of the lawyers who represented detained children entered the cases many days or weeks after the child’s detention hearing — too late to be of much help.

This appalling situation means that many juveniles are essentially representing themselves in complex legal proceedings that typically require them to plead guilty. Some of these children face the possibility of being transferred to adult courts, where a guilty verdict could have lifelong consequences. This is inconsistent with the Constitution and with basic principles of human decency.

The report offers dozens of recommendations for remaking this egregious system, starting with developing a strategic plan that sets clear goals to end discriminatory treatment at all points. As part of that process, the court has to train its employees to understand “the subtle ways that racial bias, conscious or unconscious,” affects policy and practice, the report says.

One absolutely essential step is for the county to create a defense system for poor juveniles that passes constitutional muster and affords them access to competent representation. The Justice Department should haul the county into court if it fails to make these changes.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Black Self Help…Or the Blame Game

Go to any board where conservatives post on any topic tangential to race, and the “Moynihan Report” as justification for black-white inequality in almost any instance. The number popularized in conservative press by the usual Uncle Toms is that 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. And the result of those fatherless home is crime, and a continuation of pathologies which serve to keep the “black community” in the ghetto. Baggy Pants and Rap Music…

Never mind that the overwhelming majority of the black community doesn’t live there anymore, the 60 year old Moynihan report is the foundation and cornerstone of conservative racism.

Which leads us to the philosophical battle between lauded social commentator Ta Nehisi Coates and President Obama…

A passing of the Guard, President Obama greets Coates as Rev Sharpton looks on.

“Racial self-help” or “blaming the victim”?: 50 years after its publication, the Moynihan Report still provokes debate about the causes and cures of African-American in­equality

Excerpted from “Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy”

In his 2006 bestseller The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama praised the Moynihan Report, which famously predicted that female-headed families would impede African American progress after the passage of civil rights legislation. Obama repeated a common account of the controversy sparked by the 1965 report: “Moynihan was accused of racism . . . ​when he raised alarms about the rise of out-of-wedlock births among the black poor.” Responding to the most famous criticism of the report—that it “blamed the victim”—Obama portrayed the uproar against Moynihan as a telling example of how “liberal policy-makers and civil rights leaders had erred” when “in their urgency to avoid blaming the victims of historical racism, they tended to downplay or ignore evidence that entrenched behavioral patterns among the black poor really ­were contributing to intergenerational poverty.”

By suggesting that African Americans take responsibility for their social advancement, Obama drew on a powerful interpretation of the Moynihan Report: urging racial self-­help. “[A] transformation of attitudes has to begin in the home, and in neighborhoods, and in places of worship,” he argued. As the first black president, Obama continued to echo the Moynihan Report. In 2014, he launched My Brother’s Keeper, a program that identified lack of father figures as a central problem facing young men of color. His comment in an interview that year strikingly recalled the report’s analysis of a “tangle of pathology,” interconnected social ills afflicting African Americans: “There’s no contradiction to say that there are issues of personal responsibility that have to be addressed, while still acknowledging that some of the specific pathologies in the African-­American community are a direct result of our history.”

Responding to Obama’s comment, prominent African American commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates was outraged that the president pointed his finger at African Americans rather than at institutional barriers to advancement. “I can’t think of a single credible historian of our 500-year tenure here,” he retorted, “who has concluded that our problem was a lack of ‘personal responsibility.’”  Six months earlier, however, Coates had appealed to an alternate interpretation of the Moynihan Report, one that advocated “national action” to address black male unemployment. To Coates, “Moynihan powerfully believed that government could actually fix ‘the race problem’” through jobs programs designed to make “more [black] men marriage-­material.” A half­-century after its publication, the Moynihan Report remains a contested reference point for debating the causes and cures of African American in­equality. The controversy endures because it elicits competing explanations for why African Americans, despite ostensibly having equal civil rights, experience a standard of living significantly lower than that of other Americans.

Officially titled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, the report was colloquially named after its author, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. Moynihan wrote at the dawn of a new era in American race relations: landmark legislation in 1964 and 1965 ended Jim Crow segregation, granted formal equality to African Americans, and discredited overt arguments for white supremacy. Yet Moynihan’s opening sentence warned, “The United States is approaching a new crisis in race relations.” The crisis, he wrote, resulted from African American demands that went “beyond civil rights” to include economic “equality.”  Moynihan responded to civil rights leaders who had long ­advanced economic reforms designed to ensure a basic standard of living for all Americans. The 1963 March on Washington, after all, was for “jobs and freedom.” Yet Moynihan worried that achieving full racial equality would be hindered by what he viewed as the “crumbling” and “deteriorating” structure of many African American families reflected in high numbers of out-of-wedlock births and female-headed families. Family structure stood at the heart of what he notoriously labeled a “tangle of pathology” evident in high rates of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, and poor educational achievement among African Americans. Moynihan’s thesis produced conflicting notions about how to combat racial inequality. For liberals, it suggested the need to provide jobs for black men to stabilize families. For conservatives, however, it suggested the need for racial self-­help: for African American leaders to morally uplift blacks by inculcating family values.

The Moynihan Report sparked an explosive debate at the intersection of competing conceptions of race, gender, and poverty. The political dispute over the document was actually a short-­lived affair. Moynihan finished the report in March 1965. In June, it served as the basis for a major speech by President Johnson. In August, it became public. By November, the Johnson administration had disowned it in the face of mounting criticism. From the left, critics charged Moynihan with “blaming the victim”: by shifting attention to African Americans’ alleged family problems, he overlooked the institutions that oppressed them. Though the report lost direct relevance for public policy after 1965, intellectuals and political activists hotly debated it well into the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, the report witnessed a political and media revival that never fully dissipated. Even today, as Obama’s and Coates’s remarks suggest, it remains a litmus test for revealing an individual’s political beliefs.

Beyond Civil Rights diverges from prevailing accounts of the Moynihan Report controversy that focus on establishing the document’s intended meaning. Some scholars claim the report was a conservative document that reinforced racist stereotypes. Others defend it as a quintessentially liberal document, arguing that critics simply misunderstood it. In contrast, I argue that the report had multiple and conflicting meanings. It produced disparate reactions because of internal contradictions that reflected those of 1960s liberalism and because of its contentious assumptions about race, family, poverty, and government. Instead of focusing solely on Moynihan’s intentions, this book explains why and how the report became such a powerful symbol for a surprising range of groups including liberal intellectuals, Southern segregationists, civil rights leaders, Black Power advocates, feminists, neoconservatives, and Reaganite conservatives.

One prominent interpretation finds that the Moynihan Report pioneered using images of “matriarchal” African American families to undermine the welfare state, an effort that accelerated during the 1980s and 1990s with Republican attacks on welfare recipients, usually pictured as African American single mothers. For example, scholar Roderick Ferguson writes that the report “facilitated a conservative blockade of social welfare policy” through its “pathologizing of black mothers.” Historian Alice O’Connor depicts the report as a prime example of how liberal social science generated conservative welfare reform. However, the report was not inherently conservative. Ferguson and O’Connor conflate the report, a product of 1960s liberalism, with the late twentieth-­century attack on welfare led by conservative Republicans. By contrast, in the 1960s, many interpreted Moynihan’s emphasis on “social pathologies” to indicate the need for unprecedented “national action.” Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and socialist Michael Harrington both hailed the report; seeing it as inherently conservative makes it impossible to understand why.

Another common interpretation takes the Moynihan Report as an unequivocally liberal document. This view, first advanced by Lee Rainwater and William Yancey inThe Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy (1967) and stated most recently in James Patterson’s Freedom Is Not Enough (2010), correctly notes that Moynihan called attention to black family structure to push for jobs programs and other mea­sures to benefit African Americans. Interpreting the report as unambiguously liberal fails to explain its immediate attraction to 1960s conservatives such as William F. Buckley and long-­term appeal to neoconservatives and Reaganite conservatives. Moreover, even the report’s liberal call for job creation sprang from assumptions that struck 1960s liberals, radicals, and their present-day heirs as “conservative.” These included viewing African American culture as pathological, defending the patriarchal family, and relying on technocratic expertise rather than grassroots activism to generate reform…

Liberals nostalgic for a mid-1960s moment when government officials contemplated ambitious programs to redress African American in­equality have been especially drawn to the idea that the Moynihan Report was misunderstood. For them, the report marked a lost opportunity for reforms that might have been enacted but for the unfortunate response the report generated. Conservatives similarly explain the controversy as a misunderstanding by treating left-wing critics’ attacks as irrational. For them, the Moynihan Report controversy marked the onset of “political correctness.” Conservatives claim criticism of the report by civil rights leaders and liberals suppressed an honest discussion about race. In their view, Moynihan’s critics convinced African Americans to perceive themselves as victims without responsibility for moral failings and civil rights leaders wrongly focused on criticizing Moynihan instead of exhorting blacks to strengthen their families. There is no necessary contradiction between conservatives’ advocacy of racial self-help and liberals’ support for government efforts to redress inequalities. However, in national po­liti­cal debate, conservative appropriations of the Moynihan Report to call for racial self-help denied national responsibility for persistent anti-black racism and gross economic in­equality…

What lent the report its enduring salience was its maddening inconsistency on key issues. Was family instability primarily cause or consequence of racial inequality? Were the “social pathologies” of African Americans race-specific, rooted in the history of slavery and racial discrimination, or were they class-specific, based on the overconcentration of African Americans among the urban poor? Was patriarchal family structure naturally superior, or did racial minorities simply have to conform to mainstream nuclear family norms if they wished to advance? Moynihan also articulated two distinct notions of “equality.” On one hand, equality meant a guaranteed basic living standard for all Americans. On the other, equality meant “equal results”—a class distribution among African Americans that matched other American ethnoracial groups…

Read the entire article here.

My basic view of this is that a cherry-picked version of the Moynihan Report has basically become the handbook of conservative racism, and the principal defense against denunciation or even recognition of white privilege. My view is that the so called “breakdown of the black family”, is really focused on the poor black family, and utterly ignores the impact of the carceral state implement under the aegis of the “War on Drugs”. Which has been used both as a political tool to suppress black and minority enfranchisement relative to the vote, as well as to support white supremacy.

When you look at the incarceration numbers, whose victims are largely concentrated within 10 miles of a major urban center – and the fact that that urban population represents only about 7% of the black US community..It shouldn’t be very hard to recognize that in those urban communities, something like (and I estimate here) 40-50% of the men between 18 and 30 are incarcerated, largely on non-violent drug “crimes”, then the causality of the “single mother”, and “breakup of the black family” lies firmly in the hands of the racial justice system. A situation exacerbated by the major cocaine “epidemic” of the late 80’s and early 90’s facilitated in no small part by the Reagan/Bush administrations.

Ergo – if you break up the carceral state..You solve the “problem” of single motherhood.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Black History, The New Jim Crow

 

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NYC Activist Takes on Bill O’Reilly

This is a fun one. Bill the O’Bigot gets a lesson on stereotyping from New York Civil Rights Coalition president Michael Meyers. Michael Meyers called Bill O’Reilly and his network out to his face on Monday, accusing Fox News of engaging in a pattern of demonizing black men “You are painting black men as society’s moral monsters,” said Meyers…

Another Bill the Bigot lesson was given in December of last year by Russell Simmons on the show:

Simmons and Murray make a key point, thet the creation of the carceral state more than any other cause is the source of many maladies affecting poor black communities – Best summed up in Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics, by Marie Gottschalk and described in this review

 Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics – Pathology of the Carceral State

For 40 years now the United States has been creating a vast and unprecedented carceral machine. Its size and reach stagger the imagination: jails and prisons, immigration detention and deportation centers, parole and probation offices, digital, electronic, and human surveillance. Its human costs are enormous — federal and state prisons and jails hold over 2 million people in custody at any time; if you include those under parole, probation, or other forms of government surveillance for crime the number exceeds 8 million. Tens of millions of Americans have some form of criminal record. Their families are drawn in to the reach of the carceral state along with them. In global terms the United States stands alone. It has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Its penal practices are brutal compared to Europe. It deepens the racial divide in the country. It distorts the economy and polity. Above all it degrades lives and the country as a whole.

To understand this machine means holding a series of seemingly contradictory notions at once. Mass incarceration extends long-standing tendencies in American penal history while being a bold departure from previous practice; it has at its core a system of racial subordination, although race is now arguably less important than previously; it has marked an expansion in state power but is driven in important ways by the search for private profit; it is an instrument of law and order that operates in arbitrary and uncontrolled ways. Incarceration, originally justified as a defense of human dignity against the bodily brutality of ancien regime punishments, has now become the site of physical and psychological torture. And there is no end in sight to either mass incarceration or the wounds it imposes on human beings and American society…

The broad history of mass incarceration is well known. Prior to the 1980s the size and reach of imprisonment in the United States was not significantly different from its western European counterparts. For most of the 20th century the United States sent slightly more than 100 per 100,000 people to prison. (That number is now over 500 in prison and over 700 if you include jails.) The death penalty had been in long secular decline and the Supreme Court suspended it in 1972. Courts began to take steps to ensure minimal constitutional standards for prisons and protections for prisoners. Serious criminological and legal opinion believed that there was a real possibility that the prison would soon fade away.

Of course past is not always prologue. At precisely the moment when the country’s use of imprisonment appeared to face the possibility of serious reduction, states began a new expensive spree of prison construction. In 1976 the Supreme Court approved the restart of the death penalty. A bipartisan move toward determinate sentences (supported by liberals who thought it would curb the arbitrary authority of prison officials and by conservatives who aimed to curb the power of judges), combined with increasing lengths in mandated sentences, helped trigger vast expansion. Prison officials drew upon fears of riots and “revolutionary” inmates such as California’s George Jackson to justify intensified control over their prisons and increased use of solitary confinement. In the early 1980s the “war on drugs” took off and with it not only a rise in the size of the federal prison system but also the exacerbation of extreme racial inequities in sentences and prosecutions…

These developments, to be sure, did not emerge out of thin air. Instead they built upon initiatives begun earlier under the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations. In particular Johnson’s signing of 1968’s Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act dramatically increased federal engagement with local policing and punishment. One effect of the act was to encourage the growing militarization of police forces, primarily through the Law Enforcement and Assistance Administration. Johnson and his allies may have thought that by imposing new federal standards they would help protect minorities from local abuses (as well as preempt more radical conservative proposals) but as Naomi Murakawa has argued, this liberal emphasis on procedure and uniform standards helped legitimate the idea that new regulations could justify and control the expansion of the prison state. As the continual revelations of prison abuses show, this hope was a false one…(…More…)

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

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