truthful perceptions: justice or just-us

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The Second Census of the United States was done in the year 1800.  Approximately one million African-Americans were counted and of that number, 900,000 of them were slaves. Today there are more than  one million African Americans incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons, than were slaves in 1800. After reading the statistics below, one would have to be ignorant to the Nth degree of a greater conspiracy fluently at work against men of color in this country.

Congressman Trey Radel of Florida (who happens to be white) was busted hands down this past week buying cocaine from an undercover cop, pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to immediate rehab. How would that sentencing have gone for the same crime were it a Black or Latino man arrested under the same circumstances? According to the figures below, it is a sure bet he would be under mandatory sentencing laws giving him immediate prison time. Read Below:

Incarceration Trends in America

  • From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people
  • Today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners.
  • Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, 1 in ever y 31 adults, or 3.2 percent of the population is under some form of correctional control

Racial Disparities in Incarceration

  • African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
  • African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
  • Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population
  • According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%
  • One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime
  • 1 in 100 African American women are in prison
  • Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

Drug Sentencing Disparities

  • About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
  • 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
  • African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
  • African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

Contributing Factors

  • Inner city crime prompted by social and economic isolation
  • Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession
  • “Get tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies
  • Mandatory minimum sentencing, especially disparities in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession
  • In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic
  • “Three Strikes”/habitual offender policies
  • Zero Tolerance policies as a result of perceived problems of school violence; adverse affect on black children.
  • 35% of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20% of Hispanics and 15% of whites

Effects of Incarceration

  • Jail reduces work time of young people over the next decade by 25-30 percent when compared with arrested youths who were not incarcerated
  • Jails and prisons are recognized as settings where society’s infectious diseases are highly concentrated
  • Prison has not been proven as a rehabilitation for behavior, as two-thirds of prisoners will reoffend

Exorbitant Cost of Incarceration: Is it Worth It?

  • About $70 billion dollars are spent on corrections yearly
  • Prisons and jails consume a growing portion of the nearly $200 billion we spend annually on public safety

New slavery leaves hurriedly with the truth by not leaving enough time for critical analysis of what is really going on here. New slavery makes mad money from the mastered misery of black men in the prison industrial complex. Where does it end?  One would think the system is unsustainable, but the fact of the matter is that they will just keep on building more and more prisons in order to accommodate the anticipated infusion of more free labor.

The war on drugs is actually a war on people, with Black Men as the prime unending human resource of free labor to make not just license plates, but everything from books, lingerie, picnic tables, park benches, military jackets, Ikea store products, canoes, baseball caps, blue jeans and even one prison in Illinois have inmates roasting coffee beans for a private company.

They earn anywhere from pennies a day to minimum wage, and for someone who will be incarcerated for thirty years to life that is a tremendous profit dollar margin for a corporation doing business with the penal system. Pay an inmate .25 cents a day having him make products that you will sell for $10.00 to $1000.00

It’s got to stop with the re-awakening of the Black Man to the complex trap that is conveniently set for us in the form of drugs in our community.  Otherwise, as Richard Pryor said, when we go to court looking for justice…that’s all were going to find ~ Is Just-Us.

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