Racial Disparity News
February 28, 2014 (National Catholic Reporter)
Christian leaders pledge action on high rate of incarceration in U.S.
Leaders of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., of which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a member, issued a pledge to engage the American public on the issue of mass incarceration in the United States.
"The church in the United States has a moral and ethical imperative to protect human dignity and must address the problem of mass incarceration in our nation," the coalition said in a statement issued at the end of its Feb. 4-7 meeting in Newark, N.J., during which religious leaders heard from experts in the field -- including a New York Baptist minister who himself had been jailed before entering the ministry.
"We recognize that the legacy of the dehumanization of people of color has borne lasting effects in current-day society," citing slavery and Jim Crow laws as examples of "subjugation" until civil rights laws passed nearly 50 years ago tried to right it. "We see the vestiges of these systems of human control in America's current system of mass incarceration."
Christian Churches Together added, "These systems are not only affecting African-Americans. They are now impacting all people of color, the poor, the marginalized, and the immigrant in the United States. Latinos and other immigrants, in particular, are experiencing the brunt of increased detention rates in the midst of their struggle for immigration reform."
February 28, 2014 (Huffington Post)
President Bush Was Right
Preeti Vissa writes that “President George W. Bush was right when he said that Federal and state laws that deny basic rights and survival benefits to ex-offenders much change.
“In his 2004 State of the Union address, he said: ‘We know from long experience that if [former prisoners] can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison. ... America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.’
“Every week more than 10,000 ex-offenders are released from U.S. prisons, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 650,000 each year. That's more people than the entire population of Boston -- or Seattle or Denver or Washington, D.C.
“Today, dumb policies force too many of those ex-offenders back into a life of crime. My organization, The Greenlining Institute, recently joined an effort to change some of those policies here in California, but that's not enough. Those changes need to happen nationwide.
“Think about this: The vast majority of prisoners get out eventually, having paid their penalty, and most emerge with no job, little or no savings, and possibly even no home. To have a chance of establishing themselves in a law-abiding life, a few things are essential: Food and a place to live while looking for that first paycheck, opportunities for training or education to make themselves employable, the chance to reintegrate into society rather than standing apart. Without such basic supports, the chances they'll fall back into crime are way too high.
February 28, 2014 (Workers World)
Poverty, poor education and prison
Joseph Piette asks” “Why does Philadelphia, a major center of university education in the U.S., have so much poverty?
“Philadelphia, in which people of color make up 59 percent of the population, has the highest rate of extreme poverty of the nation’s 10 largest cities, at 12.9 percent. Extreme poverty is defined for a family of three as living on less than $9,500.
“Overall, Philadelphia has the most uneducated residents of the 25 largest cities. Some 57 percent of adults age 35 and older, and 39 percent of those age 25 to 34, have a high-school diploma or less, reported philly.com in January.
“The high rates of poverty and low educational levels persist even though the Philadelphia regional economy, with an estimated annual output of $352.7 billion, is the seventh largest in the country, notes PEW. According to the World Bank, if this city were a country, it would be the 32nd largest economy in the world.
February 28, 2014 (Michigan Live)
An incarcerated mother laments her children
Tinesha Crawford-Wilson is s serving the 14th year of a 17- to 22 1/2-year sentence for killing a fellow drug dealer in November 1999.
“I never wanted this to happen. I won’t lie. I blame myself,” said Crawford-Wilson, whose time in prison has given her insights she wishes she had while free. She expresses regret, especially when it comes to her son Wilson, who is serving 16 to 30 years in prison, and two younger, teenage children.
“He didn’t have anything. He didn’t have anyone. And it breaks my heart that’s where he’s at. And the cycle repeats itself.”
More than 1.7 million children, about 2 percent of the population, have a parent in a state or federal correctional facility.
Of the growing number of women in U.S. prisons, 62 percent of them have children younger than 18, according to a report from The Sentencing Project, which publishes research and advocates for policy reform in the criminal justice system.
February 25, 2014 (Fusion)
The Laws That Are Blocking 1 in 5 African Americans From Voting
An estimated 5.8 million Americans are prohibited from voting because they have criminal records, according to a report from The Sentencing Project.
The laws that block ex-offenders from the right to vote range state by state. Some individuals that have lost their right to vote have committed serious crimes but in several states a misdemeanor would block you from the voting booth. The issue gained national attention when Attorney General Eric Holder called the laws “unnecessary and unjust.”
See a graphic presentation of who is disproportionately affected by the nation’s current laws here.