Hope is possible if more people know the truth of a system so many would rather ignore.
Incarceration Nation via Black Agenda Reports
The U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any country on earth, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, despite having just five percent of the world’s population.
America currently holds over two million in prisons with double that number under supervision of parole and probation, according to federal government figures.
Mass incarceration consumes over $50-billion annually across America – money far better spent on creating jobs and improving education.
Under federal law persons with drug convictions like Garner are permanently barred from receiving financial aid for education, food stamps, welfare and publicly funded housing.
But only drug convictions trigger these exclusions under federal law. Violent bank robbers, white-collar criminals like Wall Street scam artists who steal billions, and even murderers who’ve done their time do not face the post-release deprivations slapped on those with drug convictions on their records, including those imprisoned for simple possession, and not major drug sales.
“Academics see this topic of mass incarceration as numbers, but for millions it is their daily lives,” said Princeton conference panelist Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean of Yale University.
Exclusions mandated by federal laws compound the legal deprivations of rights found in the laws of most states, such as barring ex-felons from jobs and even stripping ex-felons of their right to vote.
“Mass incarceration raises questions of protecting and preserving democracy,” Dr. Brown-Dean said, citing the estimated five-million-plus Americans barred from voting by such felony disenfranchisement laws.
Many of those felony disenfranchisement laws date from measures enacted in the late 1800s which were devised specifically to bar blacks from voting, as a way to preserve America’s apartheid.
During the 2000 presidential election Republican officials in Florida fraudulently manipulated that state’s anti-felon voting law to bar tens of thousands of blacks from voting. For example, many people with common names like John Smith who shared their name with a felon were also barred from voting, despite having clear records.
Yet George W. Bush won by Florida – the state where his brother Jeb served as Governor – by 537 votes. That victory in the state where George W.’s brother Jeb served as governor sent him to the White House.
Policies creating barriers to things like education and employment make it “increasingly difficult” for persons recently released from prison to “remain crime-free” according to a report released earlier this year by the Smart on Crime Coalition.
More than 60 percent of the two-million-plus people in American prisons are racial and ethnic minorities.
“The U.S. imprisons more than South Africa did under apartheid. A nation that promotes democracy has a racial caste in its prisons. We must break that caste system,” said the special guest speaker at the “Imprisonment” conference, Pennsylvania Death Row Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who telephoned from prison.
Racism is written all over the economically/socially debilitating practices embedded in mass incarceration.
A recent University of Wisconsin study found that 17 percent of white ex-con job seekers received interviews, compared to only five percent of black ex-con job seekers – a race-based disparity that is additionally devastating for people of color like Garner.
Ohio State University Law Professor Michelle Alexander, the featured speaker at that Princeton conference streamed live on the internet, said a major reason why imprisonment rates soared during the past four decades despite decreases in crime rates is anti-crime policies craftily manipulated by conservative Republican officials for political purposes.
Harsh anti-crimes policies of the 1970s and 1980s were largely a “punitive backlash” to advances of the Civil Rights Movement, said Alexander, author of the hugely popular 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
Pennsylvania’s prison population, for example, soared from 8,243 in 1980 to 51,487 in 2010, while the California prison population leapt during the same period from 23,264 to over 170,000.
Incarceration costs are particularly obscene when compared to college costs.
A report released in January 2011 by Pennsylvania’s auditor general that noted the Keystone State now spends $32,059 annually to imprison one person…a cost that exceeds the annual $20,074 tuition for the MBA degree program at Penn State University.
A report released in January 2010 by a UCLA professor noted that the Golden State spends over $48,000 annually to imprison one person, more than four times the tuition cost of UCLA for a California resident. Back in 1980, California spent more of its state budget on higher education than on prisons, but that had reversed by 2010, with more of that state’s budget going for prisons than for higher education.
America’s corrosive War on Drugs – a “war” that basically ignores drug kingpins – has devastated black families, author/professor Alexander said.
“A black child today is less likely to be raised in a two-parent household than during slavery,” she said. “In major urban areas almost one-half of black men have criminal records. Thus they face a lifetime of legalized discrimination,” encompassing exclusions from employment and access to financial assistance required to secure a viable quality of life.
Africa-Americans are 13 percent of America’s population and 14 percent of the nation’s drug users but are 37 percent of persons arrested for drugs and 56 percent of the inmates in state prisons for drug offenses, noted the 2009 congressional testimony of Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project and a conference panelist.
Both ex-felon Herman Garner and Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies, which hosted the conference, expressed similar views on the impacts of mass incarceration.
ETA— I find it so amusing that stories like this never just straight up come out & say what’s painfully obvious to black & brown folk: THE POLICE LIE ALL.THE.TIME TO JUSTIFY ARRESTS/INCARCERATION/ASSAULTS/MURDER OF PEOPLE OF COLOR
Read this. Take off your blinders and read this. It happens all the time around the world.
100% Correct. And if you’re black, increase all of your odds of this happening
The two most important points, which hold in all states and are federally enforced by the constitution:
-If they don’t have a warrant, you do not have to let them in or even speak to them.
-If you are stopped on the street simply as “Am I free to go or am I being detained”, if they answer that you are not being detained you may dismiss yourself and leave.
Reminders (especially if you are a person of color):
-Remain calm, cool, and respectful
-Never make sudden movements
-Never run from police, walk
(Police can be very dangerous, so protect yourself)
They remain in the above restrictions for no less than 72 hours, and at times 9 days. NINE DAYS where you can’t bend your elbows or move your wrists more than inches from your waist. Try doing that for an hour.
August is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.” - Mumia Abu-Jamal
- Stephen Fry
This is a photograph from a book called ‘Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America” (pub. 2004). The photo is called ‘The lynching of Frank Embree, July 22, 1899, Fayette, MO”
By all reckoning, that makes this barely 113 years old.
There are two other matching photos to the set. The one below, and the one of him hanging, which is too upsetting to post. You can see it (along with others from much later time periods here: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/omalley/race/four.html)
“Very hurtful, very embarrassing. I actually walked out in tears.”
I find this tremendously offensive on so many levels; an American is an American regardless of their nationality. By the way “Persian” is “Iranian. There are as many as 1.5 million Iranian-Americans in this country; 50% of them have a college degree or higher as compared to the national average of 24%. There have been multiple incidents of Iranian-Americans speaking Farsi in an Apple store and when asked if they were Iranian (although most tend to prefer the term Persian) … they were told that Apple’s policy is that they would not sell Apple products to Iranians due to America’s embargo on Iran. By this standard – Apple shouldn’t allow Cubans or Koreans to buy Apple products either and IT IS in their company policy.
“Discrimination. Racially profiled. He didn’t have any business asking me what country I was from.”
So – Apple has chosen to discriminate against Americans because of their blood line … even if they’re American. If they speak Farsi … sorry – you’re probably a terrorist. How do you tell an American who may have never even been to Iran or maybe hasn’t been there since they were kids that they’re just too ethnic to buy an Apple product. Or does being an American now only mean being WHITE or Christian? This IS what bigotry and racism looks like.
The NY Times has the story HERE:
Last month, Sahar Sabet, a 19-year-old Iranian-American woman, was improperly prevented from buying an iPad at an Apple store in Alpharetta, Ga. After she had gone over the various options with two Apple sales clerks, a third clerk, who had overheard Ms. Sabet speaking Persian to her uncle, intervened. He asked what language they were speaking and, when he found out it was the language of Iran, he said she could not buy anything because “our countries do not have good relations” — never mind that she intended to give it to her sister in North Carolina. A local news account had Ms. Sabet describing a cousin in Iran as the intended recipient, an inaccuracy that was propagated last week in a Wall Street Journal opinion article defending Apple’s discriminatory behavior.
In Santa Monica, Calif., two friends looking to buy an iPhone were asked whether they were speaking Persian and promptly informed, “I am sorry, we don’t sell to Persians.” In Sacramento, an Iranian-American man looking to buy Apple products for personal use mentioned that he was also thinking about buying an iPod for his nephew in Iran and was told he could not buy anything, even for himself. An Iranian student in Atlanta, and his Iranian-American friend, were not permitted to buy an iPhone after the friend, under questioning, mentioned that the student planned to return to Iran for the summer.
Apple’s policy states HERE:
The U.S. holds complete embargoes against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria
The exportation, reexportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a U.S. person wherever located, of any Apple goods, software, technology (including technical data), or services to any of these countries is strictly prohibited without prior authorization by the U.S. Government. This prohibition also applies to any Apple owned subsidiary or any subsidiary employee worldwide.
Apple products may not be exported or re-exported to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the U.S. Department of Commerce Denied Person’s List or Entity List.
Well, as an Iranian-American, I don’t buy products from bigots.