A change is needed America. One out of every three black men comes to prison. This is too many healthy men leaving the community. The absence of fathers and husbands creates many other serious problems. One major and deadly result is children growing up without a father. The damage this does to a child is long-term. More children drop out of school. Their fathers are usually in prison or dead.
Mothers are left without husbands or a solid wage earner to do his part of caring for the woman’s needs and the children. Everyone in the family suffers. There is an economical cost and mental health element that is being ignored by the family, community and government. The mental health effects of large numbers of men missing in the family has created a community existing as if their husbands and fathers and now, grandfathers are in a war. The only problem is the males are being enslaved and when they return to the community, they are rejected and unable to earn a living. The effects of war continue to destroy the community of citizens who need economical, mental health assistance.
I would suggest everyone come to a conclusion a change is needed. But, where does the solution come from? Our system punishes crime with mandatory sentencing. In fact, extreme sentences have been the solution against black Americans for a very long time. Only recently have community and some citizens become involved. As a result, some states have reduced some low-level drug crimes to community sentence and a certain degree of drug programs and drug courts.But the vast majority of courts and legislatures have continued the march to longer and longer sentences. Everyone has ignored that 95% or your crimes including murder, the defendant using drugs or involved in both selling and using. However, the dedication to imprisoning black men and women in prison forever, rejects the mitigating factors.
Change can happen if more of the families and community get seriously involved. Legislatures are saying, “Families are not testifying at the senate hearings when relating to sentencing and criminal justice issues.”
Long sentences almost guarantee that defendants return to crime. The reentry system is useless. Men and women need to leave prison and work while they’re in jail and have weekends home with their children. This is the only way to maintain a family.
For each day in prison, a day should be taken off the sentence. Additional days taken off for educational and work achievements. Long-term prisoners should be released, with a chip placed in their arm, and allowed to work and remain free, as they are monitored. This has worked in New York City. Lifers would make perfect candidates. The Lifers that are home never return to prison. Why waste millions keeping them in jail?
No matter who speaks about crime, punishments, and prisons, there is an economic cost. For the most part, the common sense approach has thus far been rejected by state and federal law makers. Mandatory sentencing maintains an over-populated prison system. It also requires the building of more prisons.
A significant percentage of every tax dollar is spent in criminal justice, judicial, police, prison, and legislative systems, thus, reducing funding for education, health care, and housing.
The imprisonment of citizens has become a necessity. It has become public policy for massive imprisonment. These policies were a direct result of war on poverty which turned into war on poor people. The billions of dollars that were supposed to be used for poverty were used to hire more police in the communities that needed jobs, training, and education. Only 4% of the billions set aside for human development was used for actual communities.
POLICY, POLICY, POLICY
Elizabeth Hinton wrote, “War on Poverty to the War on Crime,” a historical journal explaining how we reached this horrible place in history. She explained thatPresident Nixon believed that blacks were the problem in America and we were causing all the trouble with the hippies. He, along with the FBI, under J. Hoover, used every part of government power to destroy the liberation groups; civil rights organizations; anti-war groups, and peace movements. The destruction of these citizens’ voices included creating illegal activity within the groups and bringing drugs into the communities in order to disrupt the freedom movements.
The destruction of the freedom movements was successful. The voices of citizens were silenced. There was some success, changes were made in every area of American life for the African Americans, women, and those who were shut out of the political and economic systems in America. But, this great achievement did not allow the vast majority to rise out of poverty. The diseases of slavery and discrimination continue to breed deeper pockets of despair and apartheid.
The desire for one nation, equal justice, and happiness for all American was abandoned.
The government’s participation in creating our present day massive imprisonment is a direct and intentional public policy sold under the myth of “LAW and ORDER.”It was a myth to have presidents elected and senators re-elected. It worked at the expense of becoming the WORLD’S CHAMPION OF THE LARGEST POPULATION OF PRISONERS WHO SERVE MORE TIME BEHIND BARS THAN ANY PERSON ON EARTH.
Until Persons of Color are considered as human as others, the public policy will remain cloaked in a false promise that law and order is the reason for massive imprisonment.
It has been proven that the citizens accept closing schools and build prisons across every state. Those who don’t agree with closing schools in exchange for prisons have no influence in changing public policy.
The more policy we have, more policing we get. Because in order to enforce these public safety policies, lawmakers believe they need men and women with guns and tanks to make sure the citizens realize the State will kill its citizens if we disobey the policy.
Prison systems are operating on the same policy theory. New rules were instituted a few days ago in the prison. No curtains in your window to block out 100° heat. If we disobey we may go to the hole or suffer some punishments. No clothing lines to dry your clothing. Policy is no lines. Policy is to punish all prisoners who disobey.
I believe there is an absence of respect for human beings. There is an absence of fairness in the American systems that we exist under. The policy and systems that are cherished were never created to be applied equally to all citizens.They were created for the wealthy and privileged. This is why they have not worked. The government persons who are in charge refuse to consider the various voices in society. The people’s votes don’t count. This is why so many millions of people don’t vote.
Citizens should not have to march, riot, demonstrate, and possibly get beat or killed by police simply because they are petitioning change. The truth is the citizens are not free. We are allowed to go along to get along. That is not freedom.
If the majority rules then the rest of the people suffer under the foot of the majority. The founding fathers said, “The majority must protect the rights of the minority because history has shown us that the majority will execute TYRANNY against the minority.” (Federalist Papers No. 10—Madison.)
Unfortunately, the fear that the founding fathers envisioned has come true. The majority has turned their positions of power to oppress the minority. Our legislature, judiciary, and executive have disobeyed the founding fathers, which they praise as the wisest men on earth.
Madison, in Federalist Papers No. 51, informed us that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. A government of men, over men, however, needs institutional design.
Massive imprisonment is a result of men who have lost their way and have used their majority power to make laws that ensure more police, more prisons, harsher sentences, and billions of dollars wasted on prisons that torture the very souls of women, men, and children.
The psychological results are broken men and women who return to society unable to adjust to a system that rejects them.
Families and entire communities are wiped out and poverty becomes a tradition. The inequality of power is the major problem, because without power our voices for change go upon deaf ears. And public policy, public safety is louder because it is backed up by state force.These political institutions smother thepeoples’ voices.
A NEW STORY NARRATIVE
How do we break these structural institutions is the dilemma we face. We must continue to influence those in power to change the systems that we say do not address the human needs. We need to convince these structural leaders that all human beings have certain innate traits that should allow the structural system to allow those prisoners to return to their communities. The people who control have to be forced by reason, debate, and protest that the systems they are enforcing is not divine and should not be applied any longer. The twenty-first century requires us to use our intelligence. After all we are the enlightened nation and exceptional. My suggestion is we hold the majority to their claim as the greatest nation on earth—ever.
RETURN OF THE MISSING CITIZENS
America has almost 3 million human beings in prison on any given day. Prisons have become a cemetery for hundreds of thousands of women and men who have died and those who will die. The elderly population is over 10% of the population. In some prisons it is much more.
The secret being kept from the public is that prison has already turned gray. Already many prisons are ⅓ elderly. When you add in the stress and diet within prisons, aging begins faster. Certainly after serving many years in prison, a person should be able to show that they have redeemed themselves, recognize and accept their contract with society to be a productive citizen. Honoring the lives of others must be a part of their return to the community.
If there is ever to be justice, it will have to be a panel or group of citizens who are looking to see if the person has redeemed themselves and changed into a new person. Because as long as the present system is public safety, the people who would review for parole will always decide for public safety. The person will forever remain in prison. That is what we are facing today. Prison should not be DBI (Death by Incarceration) under no circumstances.
The American design for government is to ensure white male dominance and rule. It actually represents white male supremacy. This is the historical disease that we must understand, and change the design of how 360 million people are going to be governed. If, we are sincere about change, the people must be part of the design, if the republic is expected to work.
There is something strange about the greatest nation on earth that retains the largest prison population on the earth, the highest murder rate in the world, and the most drug loving addictive people on earth. Is this a nation of freedom, liberty, and happiness?
I suggest, we are in need of a new design where the common men, and women, have a significant input in the creation of laws, rules, and the constitution. Above all, we need human beings who are not obsessed with severe punishments and racism.
I hope you find ideas and strength in my essay. Feel free to continue this conversation. Remember, the America systems of prison, judiciary, legislative, and economics has never been emancipated from the old world order. The American economy punishes too many people. And the ex-slaves have been crushed along the way, and this inherited condition has driven the prison system from the inception of prisons in America. We may never get any liquid wealth, but it is possible for us to obtain basic justice. Democracy requires no less.
Pennsylvania at the moment is selecting a new district attorney. One candidate was never a district attorney. He states, “All the other candidates are D.A.’s or ex-prosecutors. The D.A. is the problem; they are not willing to change the system. The prosecutor is to see justice not convictions. Fairness and due process has long ago been a dream. The D.A. position has been another hold over for regression against the African American people. All white juries, judges who helped the D.A. convict a person. Judges, many ex-prosecutors, allowing the courtroom to be a star chamber.”
A people’s society is necessary for meaningful change. No society is worthy of praise if its law-making, court systems, and police policies refuse to change. Enlighten society’s change as they require new informed knowledge. A progressive nation evolves, and never closes the journey of justice, equality, justice and equity both legally and economically. Your questions are welcomed.