All Articles Tagged "prison system"
-Research from the National Retail Federation shows that those who do their back-to-school shopping online spend 27 percent more than the average shopper. Online shopping can total as much as $874 versus the average of $688. Other figures: one-fourth of shoppers begin their shopping two months in advance; half start three weeks in advance; more parents are sending college students pre-paid gift cards (with an average of $71 available); and 30 percent of Americans say they have a child between the ages of three and 17, which is likely contributing to high enrollment numbers.
-About 1.7 million undocumented young immigrants can begin applying for temporary status here in the U.S. The move will affect people who were brought here as children. Eligible applicants are between the ages of 15 and 31; came here before the age of 16 and have lived here for five years (providing proof of residency); have finished high school, are in the process of doing so, or have served in the military; and have records that are free of serious crime. Legal status must be renewed every two years.
-If you get a raise in Atlanta or Boston, chances are you’re still broke. According to an Aon Hewitt survey, the average salaried worker got a 2.8 percent raise this year, which is barely above the inflation rate. Atlanta and Boston tied for the lowest projected raise for 2013: three percent. The best is Denver, which is projected to give 3.6 percent raises next year.
-Factory owners have been losing business to a company called Unicor, aka Federal Prison Industries, a part of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that has been working with inmates since 1934 to prepare them for life on the outside. Unicor pays its employees between 23 cents and $1.15 an hour, doesn’t have to pay taxes and doesn’t have to provide healthcare. As a result, they win business, factories lose, and they end up having to make cuts. The government is stepping in to curtail Unicor’s ability to bid for business, but the company argues that they are doing a service to their inmate workers, who they claim are less likely to re-offend.
-This is going to be the most expensive year for gas in history. National averages are now $3.90 per gallon.
(New York Times) — A state judge ruled on Friday that it was unconstitutional for the Florida Legislature to attach a far-reaching proposal — one that would privatize 29 prisons in South Florida — to “the hidden recesses” of an appropriations bill. The ruling by the judge, Jackie L. Fulford, stops the state’s plan to privatize the prisons, which was expected to begin early next year. Nearly 4,000 correction workers were expected to lose their jobs or be transferred. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents the workers, sued the state to block the plans. The Legislature, Judge Fulford said, circumvented the law by failing to fully and separately consider the privatization bill, which had drawn opposition. The Florida Constitution says major policy changes cannot be enacted through budget bills.
A white prison inmate in Alabama, who has been serving a life sentence, is suing prison officials and the state commissioner of corrections in federal court, claiming they have unjustly kept him from reading a book.
Mark Melvin, The New York Times reports, was entering his 18th year in jail and had been reading novels and biographies, studies of World War II and Irish history. His lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, sent Melvin the book “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon, the senior national correspondent at The Wall Street Journal. The prison would not allow Melvin to have the Pulitzer Prize winning book, because officials deemed it “a security threat.”
“The book chronicles the vast and brutal convict leasing system, which became nearly indistinguishable from antebellum slavery as it grew. In this system, people, in almost all cases black, were arrested by local law enforcement, often on the flimsiest of charges, and forced to labor on the cotton farms of wealthy planters or in the coal mines of giant corporations
to pay off their criminal penalties,” the Times reports. “Mr. Melvin never received the book. According to his lawsuit, he was told by an official at Kilby [Correctional Facility] that the book was ‘too incendiary’ and ‘too provocative,’ and was ordered to have it sent back at his own expense.”
Melvin did not request pornographic materials, hateful literature or even an NWA cassette tape; the man asked for a Pulitzer Prize winning history book that chronicles a factual account of the past. Blocking access to such information is consistent with the usual tactics of the oppressor, just a mutation of the longstanding fear that knowledge really does equal
power. This cowardice and obvious insecurity on display in the Alabama prison system offers a poignant snapshot into the psyche of white and powerful America, one that essentially demands the those who had been wronged by their forefathers should just get over it already. Yes, America has a tremendously shameful past (and present), but overt efforts to erase or suppress its history just don’t seem worth the trouble.
“Mr. Stevenson, who is also the director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, said he considered the lawsuit to be less about the rights of people in prison but primarily about the country’s refusal to own up to its racial history,” the Times reports. “Stanley Washington, a former inmate who is now a caseworker for the equal justice group, said that at the Alabama
prison where he was serving a sentence in 2001, inmates were forbidden to watch the mini-series ‘Roots.’”
Hopefully national media attention will force the prison’s hand in letting Mr. Melvin read the book, but if the case inspires someone else to open up the pages learn more about black and U.S. history, then we may still consider it a win.
(Reuters) – Ohio said on Thursday it had gone through with a controversial plan to privatize a portion of the state’s prison system, the latest step in Republican Governor John Kasich’s campaign to shrink government and close the state’s budget shortfall. Officials said the state had sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, an 11-year-old prison housing about 1,500 nonviolent prisoners, to the Corrections Corporation of America for $72.7 million. The state will now pay the Nashville-based company to run the facility.
(Wall Street Journal) — Local officials in California are hastily assembling plans to squeeze thousands of criminals into their county jails and onto probation rolls, the first step in a massive shake-up of the state’s prison system. Over the next few years, county jails will see a flood of an estimated 75,000 inmates who would have previously gone to state prisons, while 26,500 would-be state parolees will now be supervised by county officers. The shift follows Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of a bill in April mandating the change. Set to go into effect in October, the change is meant to save money and reduce state-prison overcrowding, an especially urgent task after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that California must shed thousands of inmates from its prisons. Now, local officials are scrambling. In coming weeks, Fresno County may reopen an entire closed floor of a jail, while Los Angeles County could hire hundreds of new probation officers. San Bernardino County plans to allow more home detentions.
(DC Centric) — Pedestrians in Chinatown are inundated with advertising and gimmicks, from free burritos to digital billboards. And joining the marketing blitz on a recent sweltering Saturday afternoon was a group of young black men handing out coupons — wearing orange prison jumpsuits. They were employees of the National Museum of Crime & Punishment. Some passersby politely took the coupons; most ignored or avoided them. But given the stereotypes associated with black men and crime, others took offense at the sight of black men being hired to wear the jumpsuits. “It’s got kind of a rough edge to it,” said Wes Brown of D.C., who first saw the men last year. He said they’re dressed “like criminals” and “people see them and probably think that.”
(AP) — A year ago, a drug dealer caught with 50 grams of crack cocaine faced a mandatory 10 years in federal prison. Today, new rules cut that to as little as five years, and thousands of inmates not covered by the change are saying their sentences should be reduced, too. “Dear Judge Blake, I am forwarding this letter to you for your assistance that concerns the new crack cocaine law that was just passed,” Steven Harris wrote to a federal judge in Maryland, asking about his 10-year sentence for crack possession and possession of a firearm during the crime. “I would like to know if this law will help me.” The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which oversees federal sentencing guidelines, meets Wednesday in Washington to consider making the new crack sentencing guidelines retroactive, a step that could bring early release for as many as 1 in every 18 federal prisoners, or about 12,000 inmates. In the eastern district of Virginia, about 1,000 prisoners would be affected — the most of any area in the country.
America prides itself on being a free country yet nearly two million citizens are behind bars according to a 2009 U.S. Bureau of Justice report. This number is especially troublesome when one considers that blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. Such disproportionate numbers along with the media’s focus on the challenges of the formerly incarcerated to overcome recidivism and discrimination, often leave an impression of hopelessness. However there is another facet proving that sometimes the criminal justice system does work and can successfully reform individuals. The Atlanta Post has compiled a list of some of the most accomplished, powerful and promising African-Americans in this category. These are citizens are reinventing themselves as politicians and social justice advocates who are giving back through compassion, faith and education.
For some people all it takes is one event to discover their life’s mission. That moment came for Glenn Martin after he served six years in New York state prison for armed robbery and embarked upon empowerment of those involved with the criminal justice system. That journey has led to his present role as the vice president of development and public affairs and director of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCPP) at The Fortune Society, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to the reintegration of the formerly incarcerated. Martin has also built a reputation as one of the leading experts on criminal justice after serving as project manager on the largest audit ever conducted in the U.S. on discrimination in low-wage labor markets. Martin can be found spreading the word about his mission in the June 2011 issue of Ebony magazine.
(AP) — An Illinois prison oversight group says the state should overhaul sentencing standards to avoid being forced by the federal courts to release prisoners to ease overcrowding. John Howard Association executive director John Maki tells the Chicago Tribune that in order for Illinois not to mirror California, the state must have a more effective justice system, “and heavy sentencing is not the best way of preventing crime.”
A recent article published by Chicago Now and written by Angela Caputo revealed that the cost to incarcerate a 16 year-old in Illinois is $72,384 per year, while the cost to mentor falls between $3,000- $6,000 per year and $1700 to employ them over ten weeks at a summer job.
We have stood by and watched the incarceration of Blacks skyrocket. We have performed psycho-analyses of the problems and tied the incarceration rates to the dropout rates, single-family homes, illiteracy rates and poverty rate. No matter how much we’ve yelled and protested over this issue, it is not solving the problem. Is it because those in power doesn’t see the profitability with solving the issue?
Let’s understand something. The role of Government isn’t to do, it is to make sure it gets done. This means that overseeing things getting done only says that the Government is paying someone to do it. Follow me on this. If the Government is paying someone, then these people are paying taxes. In the money circulation theory, the Government secures itself by spending money in the private sector. The outrage of the costs to incarcerate a criminal or addict, may be high but it is profitable. It is profitable to the politicians who get campaign contributions from those who are hired to get Government’s job done!
So, how do we counteract this problem? Since Blacks seem to be the highest per capita population in prison, it is only fair we circulate this money back to the Black community. What do I mean by this? Blacks entrepreneurs need to create businesses that the prison system depends on, then secure these contracts to provide the services. If it is over 900,000 of our people sitting in prison, and they are the reason many of the businesses with these contracts prosper, shouldn’t Black businesses get piece of the pie?
The problem with incarceration is that these enormous costs are someone else’s profits. That’s where the problem is. If more Blacks get the contracts these prisons offer, the conviction rates would decrease because Blacks would be getting wealthy and of course this would be intimidating to some.
At the end of the day, we need to fight for economic prosperity. Groups strategize against Blacks by creating distractions so we forget to compete economically. This concept is no different than the work I do in the beauty supply industry. With 96% of the consumers being Black, and over 92% of the owners being Asian and Arab, it only makes sense for us to own more stores.
When we participate economically, we level the playing field in many other areas, such as politics, education, entertainment and more. It’s easy. Forget telling Pookie don’t steal and head to your Secretary of State and start your corporation. In today’s climate, it doesn’t matter if Pookie is guilty or not. If he can’t read fluently for his age, he will most likely get arrested, agree to a plea, serve time in prison, become a convicted felon, be a recidivist and perpetuate the profit-making machine. This happens every day to suspicious, but innocent, Blacks.
To put an end to it all, put a start to the prosperity machine and I promise we will begin to recoup these costs or stop the cellblock madness!
Devin Robinson is a business and economics professor and author of Rebuilding in the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation and Blacks: From the Plantation to the Prison. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.