Peter Wagner, Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative informs that, “Prison gerrymandering gives extra political power to legislators who have prisons in their districts.” I agree with Wagner and have spoken and written about this element many times before. I have done my best to convey to our faithful and loyal readers that we put people in office who have the ability to bring about change within our communities but many of them fail to do so. As a result, our present state continues like it’s just, “another walk in the park.”
We MUST Understand, that history has shown time and time again that the only race that really cares about other people is the Black race. But when the tables are turned, we cannot say the same for our counterparts. From slavery and oppression, to segregation and Jim Crow laws to mass incarceration and imprisonment; Black folks have definitely had their unfair share of injustice. Yet and still as I always say, it is us as Blacks that have built this country. Our forefathers built these United States with their bare hands, sweat, blood, tears and even their own lives. There is just something about this Blackness that has always been misunderstood. History has shown repeatedly that we have been and are the most persecuted race in this nation, even though we have been one of the most productive races in the country since its inception.
As it is, Texas puts more African-Americans in the criminal system than most of the population of third world countries.
Referring back to Wagner, in his Prison Policy Initiative report he revealed that, “Even when ignoring counties with small Black populations, 17 Texas counties have half of their Black population behind bars.” Continuing he showed that, “Most of the counties shown by the Census Bureau to have the fastest growing Black populations, are counties with new prisons with large incarcerated Black populations.” This comes as no surprise to me, because they have no plans to change this man-made epidemic that they have engineered for African-Americans.
We MUST Understand that, new prisons equals new inmates – some who have not even been born yet. It is a sad reality but they are building new prisons with our hard earned money only to imprison our future. It bothers me that members from our communities choose to ignore these elements until they are directly impacted by it. But the thing is, whatever affects one Black person, certainly has the potential to affect all Black people! Some people may not believe that the struggle is real and that it continues. We have some of our mis-educated African-Americans that downright feel that the struggle doesn’t even apply to them.
But I am not asking anybody to take my word. Just look at the numbers and statistics on the situation. In a briefing, (Breaking Down Mass Incarceration) by Leah Sakala of the Prison Policy Initiative, interesting facts were found and reported. Sakala showed the numbers from the year 2010 according to the United States Census, which I am sure this number has drastically increased since then. In the research it was found that, Non-Hispanic Whites accounted for 64% of the United States population, with a representation of 39% of their population incarcerated this accounted for 450 White persons out of 100,000 members. In Hispanic-Americans, they were found to account for 16% of the US population, with a representation of 19% of their population incarcerated, leaving a rate of 831 Hispanic-Americans out of every 100,000 people. And then there is the African-American community which equals about 12-13% of the US population.
Out of that percentage 40% of our population remained incarcerated, which accounts for a rate of 2,306 people per 100,000 persons. Now I have never considered myself as a Math genius, but even a six-grade student can see that something is wrong with this equation. So, in the Home of the Brave and the land of the free; why is it that the lowest population of individuals within one particular ethnic group (African-Americans) accounts for the highest number of the United States’ incarcerated? I’ll let you figure it out… To further prove my point, I will include findings from Michelle Alexander, the law school professor who directed Stanford Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic. She also served as law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun at the U. S. Supreme Court. In an article entitled, “Blacks Possess Drugs Less Frequently than Whites, But Are Put in Prison Much More Frequently – And For Much Longer – Than Whites” she highlighted the following four factors.
(1) The United States incarcerates a higher percentage of Black men than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.
(2) Primarily because of these significant incarceration rates, the level of Black youth poverty is higher today than it was in 1968.
(3) An African-American male is sentenced an average of a 20 to 50 times longer prison term then a White male convicted of the same drug crime.
(4) Over 2.3 million men in America are in prison — about half for drug crimes. Seventy percent of all men imprisoned are Black or Hispanic. Thirty years ago, before the “War on Drugs” was implemented, there were only 300,000 people in the American prison system.
I rest my case!