All Articles Tagged "black men in prison"
If you’ve had the privilege of watching one of the trailers for rapper-turned-actor Common’s new film LUV, you’ve probably already had a peek into the touching storyline, which shows the loving, yet challenging relationship between an ex-con, Vincent, and his nephew as he tries to show him the love that he himself was never afforded. In a recent interview with The Urban Daily, he discussed his latest project, which he produced and starred in, as well as how relatable this film is to the everyday Black men of today. Check out some of the highlights.
On his character, Vincent trying to show his nephew loved he never received:
“That is the core of what Vincent is doing because he didn’t receive that proper love and you can see that through his relationship with Dennis Haysbert’s character, Fish. Looking at the way him and Fish interact that it’s like that wasn’t the proper love. So he is definitely trying to give love to Woody and he wants to, but teaching Woody how to shoot a gun isn’t teaching him about reading this book or helping him with this or that. Even in certain instances, you see Vincent say, “Yo, you finish your homework?” or you see Vincent tell Woody about Frederick Douglass. So he does want to teach Woody some things, but the other things he is teaching him isn’t the type of stuff kids need.”
On what he would like people to learn from the movie:
“For me, I would like to see viewers to start a dialogue. I would like for this film to start a conversation about why this cycle is going on. Well, not even why the cycle continues because the movie shows you why. You see negativity being passed onto kids who don’t have parents when they look for a father in somebody else or the neighborhood. I would like for people to say, “That cycle is going on and we have to stop it.” People should start thinking about ways we can break that cycle of little Woody who had the potential to become something great, but wound up going to prison because they went looking for love in the wrong places.”
This movie looks very interesting and I look forward to its January 18th release. Broken Black men is certainly an issue that continues to plague our communities. Hopefully this film will assist in drawing attention to such a common, yet overlooked problem; however, identifying the problem is only half of the battle. Finding a realistic solution and putting it into practice is the other.
Will you be checking out LUV when it is released early next year?
North Carolina is the only state in America that has an official review board for verifying the verdicts in cases in which the defendants maintain their innocence. Called the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, this three-judge panel reviews new testimonies and grants greater access to DNA evidence as part of its process. This is part of a new trend in the court system nationwide that seeks to address growing concern with wrongful convictions. Unfortunately, there is no such panel in Georgia, which could have intervened in the case of Troy Davis and saved his life.
The good news is that the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission has already released three men from prison who were wrongfully convicted. USA Today reports on the recent release of Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson, who served ten years for a murder they didn’t commit:
The three-judge panel made its decision after seven days of testimony in the case against Kenneth Kagonyera, 31, and Robert Wilcoxson, 32.
Wilcoxson was the first to be released. He hugged his 10-year-old daughter, Taneea, and his father as he walked out of jail hours after the hearing. He left quickly, saying only that his plans for his first night as a free man in nearly a decade were simple. “Pray,” he said.
Kagonyera left jail hours later to applause and hugs and kisses from his mother and grandmother.
“It was a blessing,” he said. Kagonyera said he had prepared himself for the panel to rule against his claim though he tried not to dwell on the prospect of going back to prison. He said his plans are to “get a job, move on and put this behind me.”
“I am just so happy I don’t know what to say,” said Charlene Holmes, Kagonyera’s mother.
The hearing came after the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission in April found enough evidence to indicate the men were not guilty, including the confession of another man and DNA testing that pointed to other suspects.
The men had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of Walter Bowman in 2000, though they repeatedly claimed they were innocent. Their attorneys at the hearing said the men admitted to the murder to avoid life sentences.
So you know that meme that has been making rounds about black men living longer in prison? Well, it has been bothering me all week, but probably not for the reasons which the study might have been bothering you all.
The study, originally published by Reuters, compared North Carolina prison records with state death records from 1995–2005 to estimate all-cause and cause-specific death rates for black and white male prisoners ages 20−79 years. The findings suggest that black inmates were between “30 and 40 percent less likely” to die of certain causes than those who weren’t incarcerated.
According to Reuters, incarcerated black men “seemed to be especially protected against alcohol- and drug-related deaths, as well as lethal accidents and certain chronic diseases” and were less likely to die of diabetes, airway diseases, accidents, suicide and murder than men on the outside.
That story is now everywhere. There has not been a black blog which hasn’t covered the topic extensively. Naturally, the findings were viewed with both disappointment and welcome by bloggers and media outlets, including the NY Daily News, which couldn’t help but deliver this inflammatory lede: “Forget diet and exercise: A surprising new study says prison can actually extend the life-span of black men.”
The whole thing stinks to high heaven for me, particularly since the week before we had to hear about Michelle Bachmann endorsing a marriage pledge suggesting that “blacks were better off in slavery.” Call it poor timing or me just being overly sensitive, but both leave room for racist, stereotypical and irresponsible conclusions that blacks, in particular black men, are better off locked away or in subjugated positions than they are free. To that I say, no mas.
So I search for the original study thinking that there had to be a flaw in the methods or measurements. The study, entitled “All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality Among Black and White North Carolina State Prisoners, 1995–2005″ is available online for $31 bucks or through a subscription to Anals of Epidemiology Journal. Since I don’t have either, I checked out the original abstract, which has a slightly, but noticeably, different conclusion than the one drawn by Reuters and other media outlets.
According to the abstract, “The mortality of black prisoners was lower than that of black state residents for both traumatic and chronic causes of death. The mortality of white prisoners was lower than that of white state residents for accidents but GREATER for several chronic causes of death.” Furthermore, the study reveals that “the all-cause SMR [standard mortality rate] of white prisoners was 1.12 (95% confidence interval, 1.01−1.25) with fewer deaths than expected for accidents but more deaths than expected from viral hepatitis, liver disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and HIV.”
Wait, incarcerated white men are more likely to die of chronic diseases – including viral hepatitis, liver disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and HIV — in prison than they are on the outside? Surely it is equally shocking that in the same penal system which seems to be benefiting black men and their health so handsomely, has been a dismal failure for their white counterparts. So why was this part of the story left out? Moreover, why was it less headline-worthy?
In fact, in the second to last paragraph in the Reuters article was this line: “For white men, the overall death rate was slightly higher — by about 12 percent — than in the general population, with some of that attributed to higher rates of death from infection, including HIV and hepatitis. When the researchers broke prisoners up by age, death rates were only higher for white prisoners age 50 and older.” So does that mean that for white inmate under 50 their life expectancy in prison is lower than the general white male population? If so, wouldn’t that be aligned with the general conclusion of the findings for black men?
As we already know race is inflammatory and when it comes to statistics, it’s not the numbers, but how they are spun, which matters most. To draw a concrete conclusion we have to be able to consider all variables including the length and time of prison stay, the average age of the prisoner and the overall health condition of these inmates at the time of their admittance – just to name a few. And until that study is released in full, we are not going to know those answers, nor will we be able to compare those findings with similar or contrary studies.
In this instance, when we focus on race, without any review of other variables, we get provocative headlines like, “Black Men Survive Longer in Prison,” which only seem to fan the flames of one’s own prejudices. Even the study’s own authors aren’t ready to declare much, other than to say that, “Future studies should investigate the effect of prisoners’ preincarceration and in-prison morbidity, the prison environment, and prison health care on prisoners’ patterns of mortality.” This is not to say that the study might not be legitimate, but from the very narrow scope of how the findings are presented in the mainstream media, I can only surmise that the view we are currently being presented is skewed.
Tiny’s wandering hands during a prison visit with TI have reportedly cost the Atlanta rapper to lose the little freedoms he did have in prison. Visiting guidelines at the Arkansas correctional facility where TI is housed, require that the hands of all inmates and visitors are visible at all times. Aside from handing holding and a kiss at the beginning and end of a visit, there is no physical intimacy allowed. Allegedly, Tiny let her hands do the talking around TI’s nether regions and they got caught.
Read more about the duo’s latest troubles by clicking here.
If your man got locked up, under what circumstances would you wait for him?
A friend of mine once met a Rastafarian black man that claimed the earthquake in Haiti was a man-made conspiracy to ruin the country. Yes, that’s how hard some of us go to blame “the man.”