Black People : incarceration nation

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Alkebulan, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    this is a follow-up 2 an earlier post about prison outreach & som of the things we're trying to do.

    our efforts 2 hold a town hall type meeting finnally came 2 fruition, albeit w a lackluster turnout - about 40 - 50 ppl attended. som of the organizers, including myself, tried 2 caution against serving the breakfast 1st - but were overruled b/c the conference was held from 9 am - 1 pm. i kno over 80 ppl ate breakfast. so, the inescapeable conclusion is, many simply left after eating.

    anyway, below is a capsulized version of what was discussed. even thou it was sparsly attended, the small crowd that did stick around was enthusiastic & the speakers passion 4 this cause came thru n no uncertain terms. the program had as it's main goal changing the disparity rampant n the current drug sentencing policys, specifically the difference n sentencing (mandatory) b/t crack cocaine & powder cocaine. we titled our program, Incarceration Nation. plese excuse the choppy nature of my notes, i was writing as fast as i could (no laptop yet) i apologize 4 the lengthy post - the meeting lasted 3 hours.


    conference notes:

    since @ least '88 f ur cought w 5 oz of crack, ur up 4 a 20 yr maximum sentence whereas f ur cought w ANY amount of powder cocaine & it's labled posession, ur up for only ONE year! even thou yt's & hispanics constitute the majority of cocaine USERS, 80% of defendants sentenced r black. crack users n this country r overwhelmingly yt. the average sentence 4 crack is 3 1/2 yrs longer than 4 powder - & the majority of defendants sentenced r considered 2b street level dealers - not the big time distributors. many of our sisters get caught up n the web via hving a boyfriend, cousin, who might store som of their 'wares' inside their home or apartment - f it's discovered, they can receive the same sentence as hi level dealers.

    there is documentable community deterioration as a result of the policies of this type sentencing. racial & gender disparities: 1 of every 14 afroam family has a parent locked up. a black child is 9x mor likely 2 lose a parent 2 this disparity (sentencing) than a yt child is.

    at this point n the program, the sentencing disparity was demonstrated by a visual aid: on a table was placed a small PACKET of sugar - similar 2 the size of a sweet & low packet u might get w ur morning coffee - to represent the amount of crack u could receive a 20 yr sentence 4. next to it on the table was placed a 5 lb bag of sugar - to represent the amount of powder cocaine u would need 2 get cought w to get the same penalty (20 yrs).

    the 100 to 1 ratio n sentencing is xpained (an attempt, anyway) away by those from whom it originated by citing the increase n violent crime associated w crack but not powder cocaine. this is a misperception. the u.s. sentencing commission, which met earlier this year, said, 4 the 3rd time, that there is no rational basis 4 the sentencing disparity. but congress, once again, has failed to act on their recommendations. it's not a priority. both charlie rangel & jeff sessions introduced legislation 2 modify sentencing, but both lacked support & died n committee (the measures, not the individuals).

    the aclu made it's position clear - they want parity n sentencing & to give back the judges som discretion. they also want re-evaluation of the sentencing laws on the state level. now, 4 som statistics:

    the following apply to alabama:

    - alabama's incarceration rate is the 6th highest n the nation
    - alabama is currently incarcerating 28,000 n a system built 4 12,500
    - black ppl make up 26% of the population, but 60% of the prison pop
    - $13,000 = average cost 2 incarcerate/yr; full treatment program - $4,500; $11,400 = average cost of full tuition @ 4 yr institution
    - nonviolent drug offenses make up almost 30% of all felony convictions
    - 47% of prisoners r serving time 4 drug offenses. mandatory minimum sentences cannot b suspended, reduced, or made eligible 4 parole, or receive time off 4 good behavior.
    - mor than 212,650 ppl r disenfranchised n this state - denied the right 2 vote b/c of felony convictions

    sources: the new drug policy alliance; the aclu; the sentencing project; the new bottom line campaign; the ordinary people society


    across this nation, 5.2 million ppl r disenfranchised, & 32% of that number is due to drugs. the global population is currently approx 6 billion; globally, there r about 8 million ppl n prison; the u.s. - the country most of u live in - comprises 5% of the global pop, but houses over 25% of the global prison population = 2.3 million currently.

    whats the origin 4 all this?

    a brief background

    about 20 yrs ago, university of Md star len bias died of a drug overdose jus hours after being drafted by the boston celtics. his death sparked a national media frenzy largely focused on the drug that was suspected - mistakenly, as it turns out - of killing him, crack cocaine. a few wk's after bias death, congress passed the anti-drug abuse act of 1986, establishing 4 the 1st time, mandatory minimum sentences triggered by specific quantities of cocaine. congress also established much tougher sentences 4 crack cocaine. example: distribution of jus 5 grams of crack cocaine carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 yrs n federal prison, while 4 powder cocaine, distribution of 500 grams carries the same sentence - thats a 100 to 1 ratio.

    artur davis (the congressman 4 my location) did finally show up jus b4 the program ended & spoke 4 about 10 minutes, & then answered ?'s from the audience.

    strategies were discussed briefly & i left w a bumper sticker that read:

    drug abuse is bad
    the drug war is worse

     
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