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Breaking Down the Stats: Report Reveals Blacks Make Up More than Half the Prison Population in 12 StatesBy Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
June 17, 2016 | Posted by Shaundra Selvaggi
Black people are incarcerated in the nation’s state prisons five times as often as whites, a new study indicates.
The Sentencing Project’s latest report on racial and ethnic inequalities in the American prison system examined the prevailing issue on a state-by-state basis.
“Since the majority of people in prison are sentenced at the state level rather than the federal level, it is critical to understand the variation in racial and ethnic composition across states,” Ashley Nellis, author and senior research analyst wrote in the report, “and the policies and the day-to-day practices that contribute to this variance.”
The criminal justice advocates used federal data to compare rates of imprisonment for Black, white and Hispanic populations. And the findings show that African-Americans continue to face seemingly insurmountable odds in the fight for blind justice in this country.
- Overall, Blacks are locked up in state prisons at a rate of of 1,408 per 100,000 people; Hispanics, 378 per 100,000; and whites, 275 per 100,000.
- African-Americans in Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin are imprisoned at a rate more than 10 times that of whites.
- In 12 states, African-Americans make up more than half of the prisoners: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
- 72 percent of Maryland’s prison population is Black — the highest proportion in the U.S.
- 11 states report at least 1 in 20 adult Black males in prison.
Oklahoma, which has the country’s highest population of Black prisoners, holds 1 in 15 Black males aged 18 and older in prison.
The problem of Black mass incarceration is present in every state in the union. In Hawaii, the state with the lowest racial disparity, Blacks still serve time at a rate two times that of whites. It is a systemic matter states can not continue to ignore.
According to the report, at least three factors come up over and over again in the multiple studies done on the subject: “policies and practices that drive disparity; the role of implicit bias and stereotypes in decision making; and, structural disadvantages in communities of color which are associated with high rates of offending and arrest.”
Nellis suggests states look to New Jersey’s reforms, which included the revisions to drug laws that have contributed to the mass incarceration of African-Americans since the 1990s, specifically drug-free school zone laws.
The Sentencing Project study concludes with five recommendations for state policymakers:
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- Scale back on prison sentences for low-level drug offenders, and put more resources into drug prevention and rehabilitative programs.
- Re-evaluate and amend statutory mandates on minimum sentences that prevent judges from considering cases on an individualized basis.
- Reduce the use of “Three Strikes”-inspired penalties that result in excessively long sentences for repeat offenders.
- Train criminal justice officials at every level on the dangers of implicit bias, or the stereotypes and attitudes that affect our judgments and behavior on a subconscious level.
- Introduce Racial Impact legislation, which encourages lawmakers to consider how proposed laws might disproportionately affect minority communities.
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
Throughout US history, African Americans have pushed the limits — and beyond — of what America claims to be. The questions posed by both intellectuals and everyday African Americans during the Reconstruction, New Deal, and Civil Rights eras have all left lasting effects on the country. So too with the US left: time and again, black radicals have pressed for an expanded scope of political and economic freedoms, for Americans at home and for people abroad.
Christopher Tinson’s important new book, Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s, spotlights one critical organ of the African-American left during the tumultuous Civil Rights and Black Power eras. At a time when intellectual currents were in flux, inchoate and colliding, Liberator simultaneously served as an important forum for debate and a reminder of the diversity of the African-American left. The magazine, Tinson writes, “stood at the crossroads of knowledge production and insurrection,” providing activists and intellectuals a place where they could hash out their ideas and make appeals to others. Intellectually, it proved to be an important waypoint between the resurgent black nationalism seen in places like Harlem in the early 1960s and the burgeoning Black Power movement of the late 1960s.
Liberator magazine was founded in 1961 by several radical African Americans living in New York City. It operated at the nexus of a rising black nationalism, the nascent New Left, the remains of the Old Left, and the more militant elements of the Civil Rights Movement. The founders of the publication embodied this ideological and temporal mix. Pete Beveridge was a former member of the Communist Party, while Richard Gibson spent his early career reporting on the anticolonial struggle in Africa. (Editor in chief Dan Watts was the relative outlier, with a background as an architect.)
Two tenets anchored the magazine’s politics: a Pan-Africanism “that appreciated some sense of the political and cultural unity of African descendants, while also fully embracing local exigencies of considerable difference”; and a skepticism “of liberalism and gradualist approaches to social change.”
Founded to provide news and analysis about decolonization from a more radical perspective than mainstream publications, Liberator was an unabashed partisan of anticolonial struggles. The magazine deplored the depredations of colonial regimes and championed the movements seeking to overthrow them. Emerging as it did in the early 1960s, when elements of the US left were concerned the Cold War superpowers would pull newly independent Third World nations into their spheres of influence, the magazine became an important organ for those opposing oppression in the Global South.
At home, the magazine’s brand of radicalism led it to look askance at more mainstream left figures. In their eyes, Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights leaders were too cozy with liberal politicians, too limited in their tactics and demands. More laudable were figures like Malcolm X and radical organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement, or RAM.
The publication’s analysis of the 1963 March on Washington reflected these ambiguities. While they agreed with the economic aims of the demonstration — remember, it was a march for “jobs and freedom” — many of Liberator’s writers and editors expressed skepticism about the utility of “relying on such a dramatization to generate the full range of black political and economic desires.”
The question of what African Americans could achieve in the US — not just through civil rights victories but through wholesale changes in the American system — kept the Liberator’s pages alive with debate throughout the 1960s. New Left collided with Old Left, old-school Pan-Africanism came into play with the new black nationalism. The journal, Tinson writes, “demonstrate(d) the sheer amount of energy devoted to black radical futures, and yet it also reveals how deeply contested definitions and practices of radicalism were in this period.”
One noted participant in these intellectual battles was Harold Cruse. In 1963 and 1964, Liberator published a series of essays by the University of Michigan scholar titled “Rebellion or Revolution?” Cruse argued that Africans Americans needed to fight for thoroughgoing cultural change, to “move the struggle from a civil rights-based rebellion to a full-fledged revolution.” He explicitly linked the US civil rights struggle to Third World revolutions, where people waging battles for independence from European rule were fighting for control of not just political and economic but also cultural institutions.
Later that decade, in his 1967 magnum opus Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, Cruse would issue stinging rebukes of numerous black radicals and publications, including Liberator. But he was better off for having the magazine as a clearinghouse for his early, wide-ranging essays on black nationalism and Marxism.
Larry Neal also benefited from having Liberator as a playground for his ideas on black aesthetics, which would serve as key frameworks for the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Like Cruse and many others at Liberator, Neal argued that black people had to take ownership of the arts and culture within their community, and use them to benefit their fellow African Americans.
At the same time, he was critical of stalwarts on the black left like Bayard Rustin, who was close to labor liberals. In a 1965 Liberator essay, Neal invoked Malcolm X to push against Rustin, arguing that African Americans had to make their struggle part of a larger, international movement for human rights. Neal’s case for a “black spiritual and intellectual awakening” was, again, a window into the debates among African Americans over the future of the black freedom struggle in America.
Tinson also shows how Liberator served as an intellectual home for radical African-American women. Liberator ran articles about figures like playwright Loraine Hansberry and activist Gloria Richardson, and published some of the earliest works of Toni Cade Bambara, future editor of the groundbreaking anthology The Black Woman. The magazine gave women a chance to hone their literary and debating skills before assuming leadership roles in the Black Power and feminist movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Liberator operated during a golden age for African-American radical publications. Freedomways, cofounded by W. E. B. Du Bois, launched in 1961, the same year as Liberator. By the end of the decade, a revitalized Negro Digest — printed under the Johnson Publication Company banner (the same publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines) — would establish itself as a redoubt of black intellectual thought (and change its name to Black World to reflect its more radical stance on social issues). Black Scholar set up shop in 1969, and helped catalyze the first wave of black studies scholarship in the early 1970s.
But money was always a problem for publications like Liberator. In 1971, lacking a steady stream of income — and beset by personality clashes — the magazine closed its pages. Others on the black left would follow. Black World stopped printing in 1976. Freedomways made it through the decade, but closed in 1985. The Institute of the Black World, a black-run think tank that was another important institution for thinking through the black radical tradition was finished by the early 1980s.
Liberator’s lifespan was relatively short, and its subscription base was relatively small. Yet it was read by radicals across the United States — and quite a few abroad — who wanted to make sense of the world they lived in. Its links to groups well outside its New York City base gave the publication greater influence than its editors could have initially imagined. Fusing intellectual life and activism, the magazine demonstrated anew the centrality of the black radical tradition to the larger left project in America.
Today, as the Black Lives Matter movement calls out the contradictions of American democracy and sparks debates about the direction of the country, Radical Intellect reminds us of the vital role that intellectuals and periodicals can play in that tradition.Post Views: 531
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
NEWARK—After the historic 2016 presidential election, the State of the Black World Conference will convene in historic Newark, N.J., as the Black community faces major questions of absolute survival given the racial and political climate, police killings of Blacks across the country as well as the myriad of social and economic challenges that beset African people in America.
The conference will run Nov. 16-20.
Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, is convening the State of the Black World Conference IV. “This gathering has the potential to be one of the great gatherings of this century, perhaps this generation’s Black Power Conference,” he said.
With a closing message delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, convener of the Million Man March, the largest assembly of people of African descent in the history of America, and an address by Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder of the U.S. Organization and one of the most brilliant, visionary and systematic scholar/activists of the last half century, the State of the Black World will offer bold analysis, visionary leadership and strategies for action.
Dr. Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa, the African holiday celebrated by millions around the world, will speak on the theme, “It’s Nation Time … Again, Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment.”
Minister Farrakhan, who has been present at or supported every State of the Race or State of the Black World Conference since 1994, will deliver the closing charge.
Dr. Karenga and Minister Farrakhan will address the conference after facilitators for Seven Issue Area Tracts present summations and recommended action-items for post conference follow-up.
The Black Family Summit, an umbrella formation of 27 African-centered Black Professional Organizations that was inspired by Minister Farrakhan’s call to action during the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March, will receive special recognition during the closing session.
Fredrica Bey, the visionary founder of Women in Support of the Million Man March, will serve as a moderator during the conference.
The closing Ndaba/Plenary Session is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 20, 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
“Recent police killings of Black people in Tulsa, Charlotte and Columbus, Ohio continue to contribute to the collective trauma of people of African descent, Black people in this country,” said Dr. Daniels. “Nearly a half century after Newark erupted in rebellion against police repression, economic inequality and political oppression, it is fortuitous that State of the Black World Conference IV will convene in this city November 16-20. We will be welcomed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the son of renowned poet, playwright and political activist Amiri Baraka, who was viciously assaulted during the Newark rebellion.
“Nearly a half century after the Kerner Commission issued its report noting that virtually every insurrection in America’s ‘dark ghettos’ had been precipitated by a police killing or act of misconduct, the world witnessed Charlotte explode non-violently and violently against the continuous, generations of senseless assaults on Black lives. When is enough, enough?” asked Dr. Daniels.
The SOBWC IV is a major forum for deliberation and collective action. A plenary and working sessions will be devoted to ending the War on Drugs, advancing strategies for police reform and accountability, dismantling the prison-jail industrial complex and creating pathways for the successful reentry of hundreds of thousands of formerly incarcerated persons.
The Institute for the Black World has assembled a powerful line-up of dedicated activists, scholars and analysts to address the issues at hand, share knowledge and experiences and recommend strategies for action.
The Plenary Session, Friday, November 18, 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m., will feature presentations by Dr. Divine Pryor, executive director, Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions, NYC; Ron Hampton, former executive director, National Black Police Association and chairman of IBW’s Police Reform and Accountability Task Force, Washington, D.C.; Brandi Fisher, executive director, Alliance for Police Accountability, Pittsburgh; Tamika Mallory, co-chair, Justice League, NYC; Atty. Andrea James, executive director, Families for Justice and Healing, Boston; Deborah Peterson Small, executive director, Break the Chains, Berkeley, Calif.; Aswad Thomas, national organizer, Californians for Safety and Justice, Sacramento, Calif.; Charles Thornton, former executive director, Office of Returning Citizens, Washington, D.C.; Tyrone Parker, executive director, Alliance of Concerned Men, Washington, D.C., and Zelli Imani, educator and social justice activist, Newark. Atty. Nkechi Taifa, senior policy analyst, Open Society Foundations, will serve as moderator.
“As Black people absorb the pain of yet another series of police killings, leaders from Charlotte joined a growing national crescendo calling for the use of economic sanctions/boycotts to, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘redistribute the pain’ to achieve racial, social and economic justice,” said Dr. Daniels.
The growing demand for economic sanctions/boycotts will be one of the critical issues explored during the Economic Empowerment Working Sessions facilitated by Dr. George Fraser, president of Fraser Net; Rev. Dennis Dillon, leader of the Rise Up Black America Campaign and Nataki Kambon, spokesperson for Let’s Buy Black 365 Initiative.
For concerned and committed Black people who believe that enough is enough—All Roads Should Lead to Newark, New Jersey, Nov. 16-20, said conference organizers. It’s Nation Time and Time for Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment, they added. For more conference information, www.sobwc.ibw21.org or call 1-888-774-2921Post Views: 440