Prison system is a second home to one million African-American men

Cartoon by Michelle Phillips

Cartoon by Michelle Phillips

“My masters are morally, intellectually corrupting, deceptive, controlled by greed, hate unifies them. Animals are fed better than inmates at Folsom prison. Personal space is not a consideration in the industrialization of human warehousing.”
-Michael Bradley, 37-year Folsom Prison inmate.
Numbers do not lie. Statistics prove justice only exists for some.
America has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world, even China.
Though the U.S. is five percent of the world’s population, according to the NAACP, it has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
More than 60 percent of American prisoners are ethnic minorities. A majority of those are African-American and Hispanic males.
One in three black males can expect to go to prison at some time in their lives. Although African-Americans are 14.2 percent (45 million) of America ‘s 316.1-million population, they account for 1 million of the 2.3 million incarcerated population.
There is a noticeable difference in the disparities between the population of whites and blacks. It has to be the fact that blacks do more drugs than whites. Wrong.
According to NAACP, about 14 million whites report using illicit drugs compared to 2.6 million African-Americans. Whites use drugs five times more than African-Americans, but African-Americans are sent to prison for drug related offenses at 10 times the rate of whites.
America ‘s justice system shows little actual justice.
Ferguson, Missouri was a media firestorm after the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Citizens of Ferguson had been protesting the legal system of their city even before the death of Brown. Department of Justice officials decided to do an independent investigation on the Ferguson PD. It found that the police department and municipal courts were racially biased when arresting and ticketing African-American citizens. After the investigation was published, Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned. Ferguson’s City Manager and Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer also resigned.
New York has also been under scrutiny for its stop-and frisk-policy, which allows police officers to stop and search anybody they want. In 2014 New Yorkers were stopped by the police 46, 235 times. White people were 12 percent of those stopped, Latinos 29 percent and blacks an overwhelming 55 percent. NYPD records showed that 82 percent of the time people were totally innocent. Despite police targeting blacks more, whites were almost twice as likely to be found with a weapon.
A report in the Huffington Post said only 1.9 percent of frisks in 2011 turned up a weapon. A New York Civil Liberties Union report said a weapon was found in only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos frisked, as compared to a weapon being found in 3.8 percent of frisked whites.
Prisons take away vast amounts of funding from schools. Poor schools means poor education. Almost 9 in 10 prisoners are functionally illiterate – the number one predictor of criminal behavior. Research dating back to World War II consistently shows that teaching a prisoner how to read is the best way to prevent recidivism. So in other words, prisoners begat prisoners.
Since 1980 higher education spending in California has decreased by 13 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, whereas spending on prisons and correctional programs has skyrocketed by 436 percent. California has built 23 new prisons since 1980. Prisons cost taxpayers close to $10 billion, compared to $604 million in 1980. Californians spend about $8,667 per student and about $50,000 per prisoner.
Most often budget cuts affect disadvantaged neighborhoods and people of color. Philadelphia ‘s school system is a prime example., reported that school district is $748 million short of adequate funding. Budget cuts caused the layoff of thousands of school employees, including coaches, counselors, nurses and full-time teachers. Textbooks and classroom supplies were cut. Philadelphia schools suffered a huge financial crisis, but the state of Pennsylvania answered by spending $400 million on a new prison in Philadelphia.
Prisons are unsuccessful when it comes to “rehabilitating” inmates. Two-thirds of prisoners released will reoffend. Prisoners are not prepared for life outside a cell. After becoming convicted of a felony, a person can no longer vote, get a loan on a house, file for welfare and on top of that makes it almost impossible to find a job.
People of color can live long and prosper in the United States of America by creating change. That starts with individuals. We must pay attention to our communities. Know your rights. Be aware of what is happening statewide, nationally and internationally. Register to vote and take the time to research ballot propositions and who is running for office. Many bad elected officials stay in power and things never change is because people never challenge them.
Most importantly, brothers and sisters, do not become a statistic.


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