All Articles Tagged "prisoners"
(BET) — Are there more Black men now in prison than there were in slavery? That’s what Ohio State Law Professor Michelle Alexander has been saying. In her book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Alexander argues that prisons have become the latest form of economic and social disenfranchisement, but in a talk to theAmerican Civil Liberties Union, she expressed how prison can be compared to a part of history very familiar to the ancestry of African-Americans: slavery. “More African-American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began,” she said at the talk.
In just a few days, nonviolent felons in California will no longer be sentenced to time in state prisons. Instead, they’ll be conveyed to local facilities as part of a move that’s the largest shift ever implemented in the state.
The plan is called “realignment.” NPR reports that the idea is to reassign certain state functions to California’s counties. It includes functions from criminal justice to child welfare, mental health and job programs.
The criminal justice portion will be a switch from the state’s “tough-on-crime approach,” to what is called a “smart-on crime strategy.”
Just a few months ago the Supreme Court ordered California to reduce the number of prisoners in its state prisons by 30,000. Gov. Jerry Brown told local California law enforcement officials that realignment will assist in helping the state to accomplish the Supreme Court’s order without public safety endangerment.
Offenders that already reside in state prisons will remain there. But new offenders with lesser, nonviolent and non-sexual offenses, will be directly placed into county jails. This will allow them to stay in close proximity to rehab and diversion programs that are located near their prospective homes.
Skeptics of the new plan have their share of legitimate concerns. The Prison Law Office’s Sara Norman believes that in concept the idea is a good thing, but questions whether the plan can be carried out correctly.
“If that programming isn’t there, if substance-abuse treatment, job retraining, things like that, are not available to them, it could be a big mess,” she told NPR.
In addition, due to overcrowding, over 20 Californian county jails have court-ordered capacity limits. The largest problem however, is funding. Although Brown has promised to work hard in order to guarantee enough money for 58 counties, his promise is dependent on ballot initiative and California’s voters.
“The program is funded for exactly nine months,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, one of the biggest skeptics of realignment, said to NPR. “What happens after nine months, we don’t know.”
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.
(Gawker) — Alan Newton was convicted of rape and jailed 22 years before being cleared by DNA evidence in 2006. Yesterday, a jury awarded him $18.5 million in compensation. Is that enough? The rough math:
22 years= 284 months= 8030 days.
That means that Alan Newton was compensated at:
$841,000 per year= $65,000 per month= $2,300 per day= $96 per hour.
$96 per hour for being incarcerated in a New York prison—and for having the world believe you’re guilty of rape, the whole time. I wouldn’t take that deal.
By 2042, the census bureau forecasts that minorities will become the majority population in the U.S. That means 32 years from now, the U.S. will no longer be a majority white population. An implication of an increasing minority population is less political power for whites and more for minorities. President Obama’s election for some is an ominous sign that their political power is diminishing and there is nothing they can do about it except to rail against abortion, immigration, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and challenge the presidents’ citizenship.
The Tea Party Movement is a clarion call for whites in the U.S. who fear the impending majority-minority planet the middle of the century will bring to the United States. The impetus for their movement (Tea Party) is purportedly fiscal conservatism, but this is disingenuous considering President Obama inherited President Bush’s mind-numbing deficit. Their benign silence toward President Bush’s fiscal and monetary policy versus their vehement opposition to President Obama’s fiscal and monetary policy unmasks their fear of a majority-minority planet.
Before tackling how the census helps the majority population maintain political power, an introduction of minority-majority states is apropos. Four states and the District of Columbia can be characterized as majority-minority. California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas are the majority-minority states presently, meaning that there are more minorities who reside in that state than whites.
Consider as well that the U.S. Census Bureau projected in 2005 that Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York, and Arizona are the next states to become majority-minority states because each of the states in 2005 had minority populations of about 40 percent according the census. A 2007 update from the census adds Florida and Nevada as states joining the majority-minority status by 2025.
One final example to embellish the point is a report by Hope Yen of the Associated Press who interviews Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire and reports that the study he co-published found that “1 in 10 of the nation’s 3,142 counties already have minority populations greater than 50 percent”. His study, as Yen reports, also finds that “1 in 4 communities have more minority children than white children or are nearing that point”.
The implications here is that soon-to-be former red states such as Texas, which is almost purple and soon-to be-blue should see political power swing and possibly its conservatism dissipating as well in the future. However, the census effectively circumvents population gains by minorities by using prison-based gerrymandering. How so? The U.S. Census counts prisoners where they are incarcerated instead of where they are from. By exploiting this quirk in the census, many states do not remove prison populations prior to redistricting. Thus, when states count prisoners, they draw state and county legislative districts to their benefit and to the disadvantage of everyone else in that state or county.
This practice is unconstitutional and flies in the face of the constitutional principle of one-person one vote. New York Senate District 34 is a good case study regarding how the counting of prisoners dilutes the voting strength of blacks and Hispanics.
This practice is even more sinister when you consider that the inmates who are counted cannot vote while incarcerated and they add to the power of politicians who do not represent their interest. Brenda Wright, a Boston-based voting rights attorney characterizes this process as the “three-fifths” compromise because, in the late eighteenth century, the South benefited in regards to gaining political power because slaves could not vote and in today’s contemporary society, prisoners play a similar role. Legislators with prisoners in their districts are benefiting from the fact that those prisoners cannot vote and, as a result, gain power. Prison-based gerrymandering must end.
Felony disenfranchisement is another mechanism which thwarts any potential political gains minorities achieve based on population gains. Most lay people are unaware that “48 states and the District of Columbia prohibit inmates from voting while incarcerated for a felony offense and only two states – Maine and Vermont – permit inmates to vote.” The Sentencing Project provides the following examples to support the assertion in this paper and they are as follows:
· 1.4 million African American men, or 13% of black men, are disenfranchised, a rate seven times the national average.
· Given current rates of incarceration, three in ten of the next generation of black men can expect to be disenfranchised at some point in their lifetime.
· In states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as 40% of black men may permanently lose their right to vote.
Of the three major minority groups, felony disenfranchisement laws affect African-American men the most. This practice really hits home when you consider that the majority-minority states of California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and the District of Columbia all revoke the right to vote while incarcerated. New Mexico and Texas revoke the right to vote while in prison and if you are on probation and parole—time bound. California and Hawaii does not deny the right to vote while on probation. However, the next states to become majority-minority—all but New York does not deny the right to vote while on probation but the others deny the right to vote if you are in prison or on probation or parole.
New York denies the right to vote if in prison and on parole as well. Given that “1 in 36 Hispanic men ages 18 or older is incarcerated; 1 in 15 Black men ages 18 and older is incarcerated and Black men ages 20-34 1 in 9 is incarcerated; Hispanic women ages 35-39 1 in 297 is incarcerated; and Black women ages 35-39 1 in 100 is incarcerated”3. You get the picture.
The Drug Policy Foundation found that on any given day 1 in 3 black men is either in prison, on probation or parole. So incarceration, the census and felony disenfranchisement appear to be effective mechanisms to forestall the transfer of political power to minorities although those states have become majority-minority states. If the current practices and policies are not repudiated, majority-minority states will not realize their new-found political power the middle of the century is expected to bring.
Dr. Byron E. Price is a professor of political science at Texas Southern University and is the author of Merchandising Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization.
Apparently that was a mistake, according to the Washington Post. A spokesman for McDonnell said a staffer accidentally sent the letters.