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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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36 Responses

  1. April
    April March 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm |

    Maybe most people already know this, but I just learned recently that someone with a drug conviction is no longer eligible, at all, for financial aid. Isn’t that nice? Possess marijuana while black, get caught because law enforcement is looking for black “criminals,” probably can’t afford school on your own, and get denied federal aid to improve your living situation via an education and presumably a better-paying job.

    It’s really infuriating on a number of levels.

  2. Faith
    Faith March 10, 2010 at 1:25 pm |

    “There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”

    Unreal. Sometimes there just are no words.

  3. Manju
    Manju March 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm |

    “[T]he whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

    This Haldeman quote is cringeworthy, and reflects Nixon’s own personal racaim, but is taken dangerously out of context and doesn’t mean what Alexander thinks it does.

    She’s claiming Hladerman is referring to the southern strategy, ie the use of codewords and issues, like Nixon’s “law and order” that appear race neutral but actually trigger the racism of white voters.

    But Halderman was actually talking about policy, specifically welfare reform. The very next sentence is: “Problem with overall welfare plan is that it forces poor Whites into same position as Blacks. Feels we have to get rid of the veil of hypocrisy and guilt and face reality.”

    Now, I know the following does no fit her narrative, but Nixon’s views on welfare were–while couched in racist language–rather left of center. He recognized that blacks are disproportionately affected by poverty (“[T]he whole problem is really the blacks.”) and though it hypocritical (in the name of sensitivity) to pretend otherwise (“get rid of the veil of hypocrisy and guilt and face reality”)

    His solution? Nixon wanted a minimum income guarantee. He also simply wanted to give poor people money to buy health insurance. (ted kennedy objected–he thought that was a giveaway to insurance companies–, which he later called the greatest regret of his life). He got neither

    What nixon did accomplish was the first federal affirmative action program, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and the the Comprehensive Child Development Act. oh, he also supported the ERA, title X, and gave us wage and price controls, created the environmental protection agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

    Nixon was complex character, his racism sort of like his anti-semitism (he gave us a jewish sec of state and saved Israel from an invasion). The halderman quote does not support Alexander’s argument. indeed, it undermines it.

  4. Erica A
    Erica A March 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm |

    Absolutely unbelievable. And unbelievable the institutionalization of this racism and caste-ism. I am white, and I grew up in an upper-middle class, hugely white neighborhood. We learned (LEARNED, were TAUGHT) so many of these things. Fifth grade, a nice policeman came to our class and taught us how crack is the most dangerous drug out there, how the “war on drugs” and “just say no” help keep us safe.

    Ugh. Jaw-dropping piece and also an abrupt confrontation with my own privilege. I need to sit with this for awhile.

    Thank you for posting.

  5. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil March 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm |

    I think Megan’s Laws and all the variants, voting disenfranchisement, and disqualifications from so many aspects of government assistance are totally f’ed up–if you’ve completed a prison sentence, parole, whatever the punishment was, that should be it. That said, how do you fix it without people screaming, “SOFT ON CRIME!!! PRO-SEX OFFENDER!!!”

    Prison reform is just a political non-starter, even though it would make a huge amount of sense to fix it on a whole host of levels.

  6. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin March 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm |

    Yet again, it is easier to treat the effects of a problem rather than the cause of it. Treating the cause would require serious time, contemplation, and much discomfort among those who wish to preserve the way things have always been.

  7. RD
    RD March 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm |

    @FE Wait you don’t want sex offender registries? Scrap the war on drugs and illegal status of drugs (and various consequences of drug convictions), give voting rights etc. to felons, that all I agree with. Doing away with sex offender registries, NO.

  8. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    Actually, violence against women and sexual assault is a big old hot button of mine, and I’m against sex offender registries (and indefinite commitment for sex offenders). For several reasons:

    They do more harm than good.
    They give a false sense of security (plenty of sex offenders haven’t been caught).
    They infringe on the rights of those listed. Yes–they do. If you do your time, you report to your parole officer and go on your way. If we think that sex offenders are that dangerous (and I tend to), then we need more serious sentences, not this slap on the wrist bullcrap that we get in too many cases. Or–better yet–we need to take the “harmless” stuff like groping, peeping, skirt upshots, etc. seriously, since people who get away with that tend to graduate to more serious offenses.

    If we had registries for people who committed manslaughter or murder, who sold drugs, or who did B&E’s (all crimes that neighbors could say they would want to know about), people would see it as an encroachment on individual rights and frankly, an invitation to harass the convict.

    I don’t think sex offender registries are effective. And given the attitude most people have towards survivors of sexual assault (see: victim blaming, using sexual assault as a punchline or a sexualized feature in entertainment, the harassment that sexual assault survivors deal with when they press charges, and the long odds of getting charges pressed, let alone any kind of a conviction, etc.) I think there are more effective ways to address sexual assault. Such as, well, not victim-blaming or slut-shaming, taking it seriously, respecting the rape shield law, and doing more to combat the popular views about sexual assault.

    It’s like when people say that we should castrate rapists. I roll my eyes at that. It’s a satisfying revenge fantasy, but it ignores that 1) rapists can assault you with things besides their genitals, 2) that’s revenge, not justice. Now, I’m evil, through and through, and I love me some payback, but there’s no place for payback in the justice system.

  9. Sailorman
    Sailorman March 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    There is no question but that the criminal justice system has a lot of problems, and that one of the major ones is race. I wish, however, that the article would have avoided the use of the relatively-meaningless “some,” and what appears to be the selective use of data.

    It’d better to use some actual hard data, I think. You can get data on 2007 arrests here, sorted by race in a variety of ways:

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_43.html
    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_49.html
    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_55.html
    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_61.html
    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_67.html

    They provide interesting insight about arrest statistics by race, location, and type of crime. I’ll post links to incarceration statistics when i have a moment.

    In the interim, I’ll toss this out: Should the government and society revise their criminal laws and enforcement policies because they are getting “too many” of a particular type? Is it just the fact that people aren’t especially anti-drug here, that makes this such a tempting target?

    I am also not a fan of the war on drugs, and I agree with the goal of changing the result. But I’m a bit skeptical about the wisdom of the general argument which underlies a lot of prison discussions: that keeping people out of prison is better accomplished by not arresting them, rather than in assisting them not to get arrested in the first place.

    I’d also like to point out that it is very very easy to get mixed up by the influence of class, here. Class has a lot to do with conviction rates and ability to navigate the court system. It affects everything from one’s ability to hire an attorney to one’s ability to pay a bail bondsman. It’s a factor which can’t be ignored, and which has to be treated differently from race even though it has significant overlaps with race. Class solutions are different from race solutions, generally speaking.

  10. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm |

    Oh, crap. Jill–please feel free to remove my derailing comment. Argh.

  11. Sailorman
    Sailorman March 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm |

    RD 3.10.2010 at 3:19 pm

    @FE Wait you don’t want sex offender registries? Scrap the war on drugs and illegal status of drugs (and various consequences of drug convictions), give voting rights etc. to felons, that all I agree with. Doing away with sex offender registries, NO.

    The problem is that there are people who feel just as strongly as you, but in reverse. Plenty of people here have made posts which suggest that they’d happily limit the constitutional rights of alleged rapists, in order to get more convictions. But plenty of people in this country feel the same way about drug users.

  12. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil March 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm |

    RD: See everything Sheelzebub just said.

  13. RD
    RD March 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm |

    I wont be able to respond for a while, but I will, and I disagree with you.

  14. William
    William March 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm |

    But I’m a bit skeptical about the wisdom of the general argument which underlies a lot of prison discussions: that keeping people out of prison is better accomplished by not arresting them, rather than in assisting them not to get arrested in the first place.

    I’d tend to agree with you there if we had something that vaguely resembled a fair system and if so many of our laws weren’t essentially designed to target “undesirables.” Sure, murder is murder and mugging is mugging, but pretty quickly you get to the disparity between sentences for possessing crack and powder cocaine (both of which are basically illegal because politically connected white men needed jobs when liquor became legal again and a new prohibition scheme was founded), disorderly conduct convictions, people going to jail for resisting arrest without an underlying arrestable offense, and incredibly selective application of laws.

    When we talk about prison reform in this context you end up with a huge majority of prisoners (not some, not a few, but most) who pose no danger to anyone but who are essentially incarcerated in order to enforce the morals of a select, racist, often several generations dead, few. The answer to that is to stop arresting people. You simply can’t stop a black man in Chicago from getting into trouble with the police at some point unless you ask him to moderate his behaviors in utterly offensive ways, give up his dignity, and even then you have a not insignificant chance of him having the bad luck of running up against a cop with a quota who decides he looks like a suspect and finds a reason to arrest him. From there you end up at a badly designed justice system with judges who are subject to local politics and juries composed of locals who couldn’t get out of jury duty and just want to go home and watch Lost. After that you get a prison system which becomes a local industry and needs high numbers of incarcerated persons to pay salaries and pensions. The system is rigged.

  15. Evrybdy44
    Evrybdy44 March 10, 2010 at 7:58 pm |

    I absolutely believe that the “drug war” as it panned out is ridiculous. I absolutely believe that non violent drug offenders and non dealing amts of drugs should not be punishable with jail time. It’s unnecessary. I live in California and have voted on this issue everytime it comes up on a ballot. One of these days I hope we can get rid of jail time for such offenses. I’ll keep voting! I also believe that a war on drugs is out of hand, and many of the laws on the books are absolutely racist!(crack vs cocaine) And should be changed already. They make me very angry. I’ve recently contacted my senators and representatives on this issue.
    I also believe that the article in this post doesn’t give all the info either. I believe it’s a little over the top and takes certain things out of context. I don’t like when people use one statistic about a segment of the population to infer cause. You can’t do that. It doesn’t tell the whole story. You cannot prove that drug laws and their being racist are the cause of so many African American children growing up w/o fathers. The epidemic of children growing up w/o fathers is not a race specific epidemic, but there are higher numbers by various races. The fact is that while the drug laws and imprisonment are unfair, but if someone is in jail they did something they shouldn’t have. These people are not victims. They are responsible for the crime they committed. It’s just the punishment that does not fit the crime and needs to be fixed desperately.
    I’ve never been overly worried about the voting and certain civil rights of felons. This article has really got me thinking in a way I am sad to say I hadn’t before. Should we ever be able to take voting away? Should a felon ALWAYS be discriminated against forever b/c of what they did? That’s a punishment that I don’t believe fits any crime. EVERYONE should have a say even IN jail. And after parole if they did their time and kept their nose clean then they should pretty much have a life like anyone else and not have to continue to pay and pay and pay for what they did.

  16. Joshua
    Joshua March 10, 2010 at 9:58 pm |

    There is a more direct link between incarceration and slavery that I don’t see mentioned in either this post or the linked post. Credit to Shakesville for the link.

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/02/where-are-1-of-american-adults.html

    American prisoners make 100% of the military helmets, ammunition belts, bulletproof vests, ID tags as well some other items used by the US military. Although a prisoner is not technically forced to work, solitary confinement is the punishment for refusal. They also make 93% of domestically produced paints, 36% of home appliances and 21% of office furniture.

    There are certainly meaningful distinctions to make between actual slavery and the work performed by prison inmates, but there are also meaningful parallels.

  17. ThankGoddess
    ThankGoddess March 11, 2010 at 6:45 am |

    American prisoners make 100% of the military helmets, ammunition belts, bulletproof vests, ID tags as well some other items used by the US military. Although a prisoner is not technically forced to work, solitary confinement is the punishment for refusal. They also make 93% of domestically produced paints, 36% of home appliances and 21% of office furniture.

    I am VERY suspicious of these numbers. I would have to see some serious data to back up these claims.

    Regardless of that, I’ve been opposed to the system of jailing persons for years now. Prisons tend to make persons more violent, not less.

  18. Aion
    Aion March 11, 2010 at 10:27 am |

    I’m so glad many black women throughout the internet world (bloggers mainly) are focused more now than ever to eradicate this typical liberal mantra. Were black WOMEN, feministe, even considered in posting this? Or out of a necessity to facilitate a view of black men as victims (and black women’s treatment therefore) were we simply an afterthought? Did you ever perhaps consider that segregation for black men and masculinity has created the ideal requirements for black women and children to be the permanent devalued underclass without any accountability?

    If this is doubtful, let’s release black men from prisons under the understanding that they will ONLY go to suburban neighborhoods. How about we start justifying rape of white women and white girls by black men because “black men deal with racism”? So why would you apply such victimization to black men without considering that so many black women are raped, molested, abandoned with children etc., from growing up around predatory criminal-minded black men who see them as an opportunity because they know society in general does not care?

    “A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.”

    FACT: This has NOTHING to do with prison. If this were about inequality black child abandonment would have been at it’s peak BEFORE equal rights amendments, and not steadily increasing. In the 50′s (when racism was in it’s prime) there were more black men in families. There are men standing on the corner who ALSO do not feel that it’s their concern to raise black children, nor are they looking for work. 82% of black children are born to single mothers, and FAR less than that are incarcerated. Bringing me to my next point:

    “These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. ”

    FACT: And this is due to the fact that black men seek and CHOOSE criminality for masculinity reasons. As I always say, they have no financial power in Wall Street and therefore exercise violent aggressive forms of that power over city streets with black women and children being an innocent and unfortunate consequence. This includes violence against women and girls, violent sexual aggression, and wishing for total anarchy (lack of white cops) who are interfering with street ownership. The same men who are against NYPD harassment harass black women and girls based on the same understanding of power.

    “a convenient cover for a program essentially targeted at the black community.”

    FACT: There is NO black community. The media scapegoats segregation on a “strong black community” of people that share a similar culture and “understanding” with each other. It’s the Jim Crow legacy of racism, if anything, that states black men should have some control over “their own communities” instead of focusing on the greater issue of segregation because “blacks like being around each other”. The liberal mantra seems to be “We understand you wanting total control over your own communities without interference from whites..We certainly don’t want you in ours”.

  19. Aion
    Aion March 11, 2010 at 11:58 am |

    “Well, the author of the piece that I linked and quoted heavily from is a black woman, so… yes.”

    Can I bring several sources from a single white woman (including Sarah Palin) that are ANTI-White women’s humanity into this conversation to justify my political apathy towards them in general?

  20. Aion
    Aion March 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm |

    If an individual white women such as Sarah Palin is not in any way representative of all white women, if one white woman can write a story or appear in the media and justify dehumanization of white women, then how is it different? Your own view of blacks as monolithic should not be confused with reality.

  21. AnonIMiss
    AnonIMiss March 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm |

    “Well, the author of the piece that I linked and quoted heavily from is a black woman, so… yes.”

    Can I mention a single white women, like Sarah Palin for example to justify my apathy towards the rights of white women in general? Why is it only that when it comes to people of color they are deemed monolithic and not capable of individual thought?

  22. Iggles
    Iggles March 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm |

    The same men who are against NYPD harassment harass black women and girls based on the same understanding of power.

    Whoa, Aion nice point.
    I never saw that parallel before, but I see it clearly now. It’s not right that the same guys who balk at police harassment routinely harass the women in their community.

    “A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.”

    FACT: This has NOTHING to do with prison.

    I got to agree. First, there are way more black people living today in America then there was in 1870, so that statistic becomes all kind of misleading. And second, there are plenty of men who are NOT in prison who are not involved in their children’s life.

    Anyway, this is a complex posts so I’m not going to get into all the issues. These comments do make me think.

  23. ThankGoddess
    ThankGoddess March 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm |

    I’d also like to point out that the post about persons being jailed perhaps needfully for violent offences. Rather it’s talking about things like the drug war, which jail persons for non-violence. Those persons that are jailed are disproportionate populations (large numbers of men compared to women, large numbers of men of color compared to men who are white, large numbers of men in poverty compared to men in wealth).

    Prison makes persons who might not have lived violent lives grow into persons living violently. This is a well known fact. Recidivism rates can reach over 80%. A crime which might cost an advantaged person a fine (pot possession for instance) will often create either a jail sentence or probation for a disadvantaged person. Try getting a job with a record. It is VERY difficult since laws are now requiring background checks even in jobs that would not matter.

    None of this denies the violence against women and children (and I’ll note violence against men) that was spoken about a few posts up. Rather, the questions is, what is the CAUSE of the violence. Since we know that prison time increases the likelihood EXPONENTIALLY that a person will practice violence (both in prison and once they get out), it has to be understood that much of the violence mentioned is a direct result of this prison training. (Really government training and brainwashing). Even persons that have not been in prison, when around a large proportion of persons that have been to prison, are thus acting more violent, will grow to be more violent due to the influence of their peers.

  24. ThankGoddess
    ThankGoddess March 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm |

    I’d also like to point out that the post about persons being jailed perhaps needfully for violent offences. Rather it’s talking about things like the drug war, which jail persons for non-violence.

    Correction:

    I’d also like to point out that the post IS NOT about persons being jailed (perhaps needfully) for violent offences. Rather it’s talking about things like the drug war, which jail persons for non-violence.

  25. Aion
    Aion March 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm |

    Yikes! I’m sorry Jill, that comment posted several times, I didn’t see “awaiting moderation” so I posted it as anon in case it was having difficulty with my email.

    You said: “All Black People Ever, but that it’s unfair to suggest that the post in question is only concerned with the rights of black men.”

    1. It mentions black men EXCLUSIVELY.
    2. It paints the view of black criminals (who are in prison generally because of drug wars where black women and children are either undoubtedly affected or targets) as victims.
    3. It fails to mention the impact of ex-con and criminals in black neighborhoods, and it’s clear that predatory men target black neighborhoods where the protection of women and children is considered irrelevant.
    4. It doesn’t address the issue that men who abandon their children, no matter what excuse we can imagine, do not do so because they’re victims. If fewer men were abandoning their children during slavery, then that should send an alarm.

    Sarah Palin has a bunch of credentials too. It doesn’t mean that her views are in any way indicative of her ability or concern with white women as a collective. Bringing up the “black person that said this” IS racist when you’re looking at the skin color of the person who’s been quoted as an excuse to escape fundamental problems with arguments (such as the four I’v laid out above). Not you necessarily, I find this sort of racism amongst liberal circles in general. How many times will we have to hear the liberal banter about black men being victims of the criminal justice system without considering that vulnerable women and children live around these men too? I don’t know many white women who’d reason that the 45 or so ludely sexual comments and threats of rape that they hear for having the audacity to walk one street block in a black neighborhood is because of the criminal justice system. Nor do I hear the excuse in the OJ simpson situation that he “dealt with racism”. Black women deserve the same right to safety that white feminists do. But I guess someone needs to be the punching bag for the men who’ve been abused, in general, that is their partners. In society, that punching bag is black women.

    I’m sorry if I came off a little nutty, I’m just frustrated constantly hearing this AT the expense of black women.

  26. Aion
    Aion March 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    “Rather it’s talking about things like the drug war, which jail persons for non-violence. ”

    Seriously? The drug war IS engrossed in violence. Whether or not a junkie steals and kills for money, whether or not there are shootings targeted towards dealers or using drugs, etc., Not to mention that children being brought up around drug users ARE likely to use and sell drugs themselves. MOST violence is over drug money.

    “one of this denies the violence against women and children (and I’ll note violence against men) that was spoken about a few posts up. Rather, the questions is, what is the CAUSE of the violence.”

    Which is mentioned above. The issue here is masculinity and power, if the issue were poverty then surely single mothers would push dope and commit drive-by shootings against other single mothers, since they make up the nations poor. Single mothers aren’t the ones mainly pushing dope, neither are they standing on street corners sexually harassing. So what’s the true motivation behind the violence? Money, sex, cars, and so forth–how men showcase power. Pick up your nearest hip hop record for proof.

    “Prison makes persons who might not have lived violent lives grow into persons living violently. This is a well known fact.”

    No, growing up around violence, drugs, men who psychologically/sexually/verbally abuse women (whenever they leave their homes and walk the corners where men stand from the time they are about 9yrs throughout adulthood) IS the problem here.

    Also, there’s a strong connection between black men being viewed as victims and the rise of irresponsibility when it comes to those who have less power than themselves (black women and children)… A VERY strong connection. THAT is the only constant we see here.

  27. Aion
    Aion March 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm |

    “I understand what you mean when you say that whether or not an individual criminal is violent, the drug trade is mired in violence, but is imprisoning people for drug possession really the answer to that problem?”

    I believe one of the answers is to NOT victimize the people selling drugs, as we wouldn’t have a constant illegal drug problem if there weren’t violent criminals selling them and killing over them. Technically, pedophiles and rapists are victims. Generally, they have come from abusive environments themselves and should be in therapy, not incarcerated. But what’s the alternative in the meantime for rapists and pedophiles to get them off of the streets and away from children?

    I would be in favor of isolated prison communities for rehabilitation. The current system we have is isolating criminals WITHIN black constructs, which conveniently ignores those who are also innocent and relies on stereotypes of black women being “strong” and black children being “street smart” to deflect from this reality. If people were pushing to label rapists “victims” it would not be legitimate because this is also an issue that affects white women (and white feminists). But without a blink of rationale, we find it acceptable to victimize black male criminals out of the lie that black women are equipped to handle a lack of safety.

  28. S.L
    S.L March 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm |

    The same men who are against NYPD harassment harass black women and girls based on the same understanding of power.

    I agree with this statement. I feel like this argument is being framed as black men in prison as the victims with little thought to the people they may have victimized. Who did their actions affect? Their families, for one. What about their community? Were they making their community a better place by selling drugs to the residents? No. They were on the same power trip as the white police who are targeting them. Neither is excusable.

    I also can’t understand how racism is linked to the rate of men abandoning their children when there were far more men involved with their children when racism was much worse.

    If these men chose a life of drugs and crime over their families and leading respectable lives, I’m not sure that the “black community” or women lose out too much of these men end up in prison.

  29. S.L
    S.L March 11, 2010 at 9:17 pm |

    The majority of people being jailed for drug offenses are non-violent; and even though people of all races use drugs at similar rates, African Americans are jailed in much, much higher numbers. I understand what you mean when you say that whether or not an individual criminal is violent, the drug trade is mired in violence, but is imprisoning people for drug possession really the answer to that problem?

    Jill I do get what you are saying here. Even though people of all classes and races use drugs at similar ways, I think some ways draw more attention. The white guy selling aderol (spelling?) on campus around finals is far more inconspicuous than the black guy who is standing on the street. I also think class has just as much weight as race in this case. The white guys selling meth in poor neighborhoods are probably more noticeable than the black lawyer sharing cocaine with his office partner. These are just examples I’m tossing out; not sure if I’m being clear. What I’m trying to say is HOW you are using/selling drugs matters in terms of how likely you are to be caught.

    I don’t know that imprisoning people is the best answer, I just think it might be the best we have now. Because the alternative is to do nothing, and as Aion pointed out: the drug trade and violence do go hand in hand. And it’s the violence that concerns me more than the drugs. Because while posession of crack with the intent to sell might not inherently violent, involving yourself in the drug trade is. And it hurts not just the people involved, but the entire neighborhood.

  30. ThankGoddess
    ThankGoddess March 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm |

    “Seriously? The drug war IS engrossed in violence. Whether or not a junkie steals and kills for money, whether or not there are shootings targeted towards dealers or using drugs, etc., Not to mention that children being brought up around drug users ARE likely to use and sell drugs themselves. MOST violence is over drug money.”

    Yes most violence is drug war related. Is the solution to continue jailing non-violent persons?

    Your other points, and those of other persons are valid. Nevertheless, increasing the likelihood that someone who is not violent will become violent by jailing them, will not solve and in fact will only increase the problems.

    “No, growing up around violence, drugs, men who psychologically/sexually/verbally abuse women…”

    Actually BOTH are the problems. Eliminating the incarceration of non-violent “criminals” of victimless crimes will not end violence. But it most certainly will reduce it over time, and prevent it from growing. None of these questions are singular in nature. We’ve got to consider all of the causes and address solutions from multiple avenues.

    “Because the alternative is to do nothing, and as Aion pointed out: the drug trade and violence do go hand in hand.”

    They go hand in hand mostly because of prohibition. Many drugs simply simply do not lead to violence on their own (a few do). Jailing someone for growing, distributing, selling or using marijuana and other such drugs is what leads to violence, not the drug or the drug user themselves.

    And the alternative should EXACTLY be “do nothing” when no victim is involved. Just because someone is morally opposed to something (drugs, pre/extra-marital sex etc) or because it will acquire money for the state by making it illegal (drugs, cutting hair without a license, etc) does not mean we should be jailing people for it.

  31. lolwut
    lolwut March 12, 2010 at 11:36 pm |

    There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
    As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

    Of course that isn’t exactly shocking, since there’s a lot more African Americans (and American States) today than in 1870. Hell, there’s more people living in poverty today than there were people in 1910. A comparison in relative as opposed to absolute terms would’ve been less misleading.

    That said, our “war on drugs”, much like our war on terror or our border security is more of a theater for the American public than projects actually being run to produce meaningful results.
    All drugs should be legal, and this Neo-Prohibition needs to come to an end. Trying to protect people from themselves never works – although even if it did, what people do with their own bodies is NONE of the government’s business.

  32. Miss Incognegro
    Miss Incognegro March 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |

    I just cannot get exorcised re: the prison industrial complex. The majority of people incarcerated belong where they are. There are cases of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”, but, not too many such cases. People make choices, and for certain choices, they go to jail. To me, it matters not whether one possesses drugs or sells drugs. Perhaps my view is difficult for some on this forum to swallow, but, so be it.

  33. Aion
    Aion March 15, 2010 at 11:42 am |

    “Yes most violence is drug war related. Is the solution to continue jailing non-violent persons?”

    No, my solution is dropping black drug users, and non-violent black felons in addition to black male ex-cons into suburban neighborhoods as stated above to see if many would still reason that they are “victims” who need sympathy and not to be removed from neighborhoods that are predominately composed of single mothers and children. It is only because black single mothers and children make up these neighborhoods that so much time is invested in turning pathological people into victims. That is all. So when they are released and allowed to hang out on corners around white children, sexually harass suburban housewives and so forth that I will advocate the immediate release of black male felons. Considering that liberals want to “help”, I believe that this solution is more than fair.

    -Aion

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