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‘Locking Up Our Own,’ What Led to Mass Incarceration of Black Men - The New York Times
By JENNIFER SENIOR APRIL 11, 2017

LOCKING UP OUR OWN
Crime and Punishment in Black America
By James Forman Jr.
Illustrated. 306 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $27

Part of the power of “Locking Up Our Own” is that it’s about Washington — not the swamp of deceit merchants and influence-peddlers that Donald J. Trump promised to drain, but a majority-black city that hundreds of thousands call home, regardless of whose bum is in the Oval Office. Washington only first got the chance to elect its own mayor and city council in 1975, and the city’s coming-of-age story — and the challenges it faced — in some ways mirrored that of other cities with large African-American populations, like Atlanta and Detroit.

“Locking Up Our Own” is also very poignantly a book of the Obama era, when black authors like Alexander and Bryan Stevenson and Ta-Nehisi Coates initiated difficult conversations about racial justice and inequality, believing that their arguments might, for once, gain more meaningful traction. (Often, in fact, they said things the president, burdened with the duty to represent everyone, might not have felt free to say himself.......Forman does not minimize the influence of racism on mass incarceration. And he takes great pains to emphasize that African-Americans almost inevitably agitated for more than just law-enforcement solutions to the problems facing their neighborhoods — they argued for job and housing programs, improvements in education. But their timing in stumping for social programs was terrible. “Such efforts had become an object of ridicule by 1975, a symbol of the hopeless naïveté of 1960s liberalism,” Forman writes.

One result: A wide range of African-American leaders championed tougher penalties for drug crimes and gun possession in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. It was the one option they consistently had, and it seemed a perfectly responsible, moral position. Wasn’t the safety of black law-abiding citizens a basic civil right?
mass_incarceration  African-Americans  men  books  book_reviews  penalties  prisons  unintended_consequences  criminal_justice_system  difficult_conversations 
april 2017 by jerryking
Retired Wells Fargo Exec to Help Ex-Convicts - Barron's
By ED FINN
August 1, 2015

As Ludeman sees it, life in Ferguson and many other impoverished U.S. cities has been made far worse by the inability of ex-convicts to adjust to life outside prison. Of the people released from prison, an astounding 77% end up getting arrested again within five years. ...Ludeman was quick to educate himself on the social and economic costs of America’s burgeoning state and federal prison population, which now numbers 1.6 million, up from 300,000 in 1980. One reason the U.S. economy has been slow to recover in recent years is that so many Americans have prison records and therefore find it nearly impossible to get jobs. This is largely due to laws passed since 1980 requiring mandatory sentences, particularly for drug-related offenses. By one estimate, 7.7 million people in the U.S. have served time in prison.

Before thinking about Project Cope, says Ludeman, “I did not realize the devastating impact to individuals, families, and communities, who are literally annihilated by mass incarceration.”

Without question, the harsher sentencing laws of the past three decades have taken a proportionately greater toll on African-Americans. While African-Americans make up 13% of the overall U.S. population, they account for 38% of prison inmates. Studies have shown that when a white person and an African-American with similar criminal histories are charged with the same type of crime, the chances of the African-American going to prison are far higher than for the white defendant. One study indicated that young African-American males have a one-in-three chance of going to prison at some point in their lives, versus one-in-six for Hispanics and one-in-17 for whites
Second_Acts  nonprofit  CEOs  leadership  serving_others  justice_system  penal_institutions  prisons  incarceration  racial_disparities  African-Americans 
august 2015 by jerryking
Imprisoned by Innovation - NYTimes.com
By EVGENY MOROZOV
Published: March 23, 2013

“Imagine a virtual incarceration system,” the report’s authors write, “that uses advanced risk modeling, geospatial analytics, smartphone technology and principles from the study of human behavior to achieve superior outcomes.”

Such gizmos are meant to reduce overcrowding and help manage the spiraling costs of incarceration by allowing offenders to serve their sentences at home. Thanks to the almighty smartphone, offenders can be under the constant gaze of case managers, who will monitor their activities in real time.
incarceration  massive_data_sets  human_behavior  innovation  gamification  disruption  prisons  geospatial 
march 2013 by jerryking
Murder Spike Poses Quandary - WSJ.com
May 6, 2008 | WSJ | By GARY FIELDS.

Murder Spike Poses Quandary
Criminologists Offer Varied Explanations For April's Increase in Some Cities

What is most troubling to people who study crime is that there is no simple explanation for this rise. There are the usual reasons -- the economy, poverty, gangs and crews, and the availability of firearms, but there is one that has been little explored: the migration of the prison culture back to the streets. As nearly 700,000 convicts a year return home, some may be bringing prison culture with them.

"This is part of the price we're paying for 20 years of mass incarceration,"...violence also turns on a central currency within prisons: respect. Disrespect can lead to lethal responses at the slightest provocation....while the overall murder rate has dropped for years, it has been inching up in the black community in recent years. African-Americans make up only 13% of the nation's population, but more are killed in the U.S. than any other racial group, accounting for 49% of all murder victims, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics...."The homicides occur in neighborhoods where folks don't finish high school," Mr. Owens said. "If you can't make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn, you're done."
killings  criminality  African-Americans  violence  incarceration  mass_incarceration  disrespect  prisons  murders 
february 2013 by jerryking
Racial equality looks different from behind bars - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 09 2012 | The Globe and Mail | by Doug Saunders.

What if the statistics are wrong? What if, instead of solving its greatest social problem, the United States has quite literally removed the victims of inequality from public records and put them in a box?...All of the data used to measure the social well-being of the country, from the national census on downward, is collected by surveying households. It does not count anyone who is not in a household – that is, who is in military service, in medical institutions or in prison....starting with the hyperbolic sentencing policies of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. prison system expanded at an astonishing rate. Before, prison was for violent and repeat offenders. After the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 broadened its use, the prison population expanded fivefold....Prison has now supplanted education and welfare as the main social service provided to the disenfranchised. Blacks are seven times more likely than whites to be in prison. It’s self-perpetuating, because imprisonment increases rates of criminality, poverty, educational failure and family breakup.

But Americans do not see these effects. Prisoners don’t appear on the census, the unemployment-rate, educational-attainment records or the voting rolls.

What happens if you include them? That is exactly what Dr. Pettit has done in her new book, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress...There genuinely have been great gains for black Americans with education. But instead of expanding these gains, the United States has used prisons to freeze half the black population out of them. Canada is in danger of doing the same to its native population under new tough-on-crime laws – and as the U.S. example shows, sticking a country’s social problems in a box does not make them go away.
race_relations  African-Americans  statistics  prisons  undercounting  incarceration  Doug_Saunders  books  racial_disparities  mass_incarceration  myths  self-perpetuation 
june 2012 by jerryking
Running a Business After Doing Time
February 21, 2009 | New York Times | By LESLIE BERLIN

In the past few years, several programs have been introduced to teach
prisoners, who may have problems finding traditional employment after
their release, how to work for themselves.
entrepreneurship  penal_institutions  prisons  incarceration 
march 2009 by jerryking

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