mass incarceration

• about 14 million white people and 2.6 million black people report using an illicit drug.

• 5 times as many white people are using drugs as black people, yet black people are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of white people.

• black people represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.

• black people serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as white people do for a violent offense (61.7 months).

source: sentencing project


This judge had exactly the right reaction to the shameful way nonviolent prisoners are treated in US jails

A woman was denied pants or tampons after being arrested for not completing a diversion course that was part of her sentencing from a shoplifting charge. But see how the judge reacts when she finds out that the prisoner’s humiliating treatment is apparently routine.

Gifs: Raw Leak


anonymous asked:

What is something the average American, with no legal or social clout, can do to help with campaigning against mass incarceration rates, and campaigning for prisoner rights?

Although it’s easy to feel like individually we might not have much clout or that one person’s opinion won’t make much difference, when ordinary people unite around a particular issue, it becomes the most powerful force in the world.  The key is to organize – when you organize people and organize resources, you get power.  It’s what has propelled major policy changes like banning the criminal history question on job and college applications, limiting the use of solitary confinement, and recent commitments to close Rikers Island.  If you are someone with no direct experience with the criminal justice system, the best thing you can do is identify groups and campaigns near you that are led by or centering people who have been locked up themselves (and their families).  Those closest to the problem are usually closest to the solution, but furthest from resources and power.  Follow their lead and join them in marching, advocating, and meeting with public officials.  Invest in them financially if you are able – while social movements often appear organic and spontaneous, it costs money to organize them.  Finally, don’t underestimate the power of social media.  While action in the streets and the offices of public officials is still the most effective way to generate change, there are plenty of ways to support those activities from a distance by participating in social media campaigns.

People say all the time, ‘Well, I don’t understand how people could have tolerated slavery?’ 'How could they have made peace with that?’ 'How could people have gone to a lynching and participated in that?’ 'That’s so crazy, if I was living in that time I would never have tolerated anything like that.’ And the truth is we are living in this time, and we are tolerating it.
—  Bryan Stevenson, 13th on Netflix

There is a lot of conversation about ending mass incarceration, but almost all of it is focused on changing how we respond to non-violent and low-level crimes. The problem is that more than half of people in state prison are incarcerated for violent crimes, so we will only end mass incarceration if we deal with the question of violence.  

This Issue Time conversation will deal with the question of violence, and will discuss whether mass incarceration actually makes us safer and what else could make us safe instead.


Danielle Sered envisioned, launched, and directs Common Justice. She leads the project’s efforts, locally rooted in Brooklyn but national in scope, to develop and advance practical and groundbreaking solutions to violence that advance racial equity, meet the needs of those harmed, and do not rely on incarceration.

Fatimah Loren Muhammad is the Director of Equal Justice USA’s Trauma Advocacy Initiative, which, in its pilot stage hosts weekly, half-day collaborative workshops bringing over 250 members of the Newark Police Department together with African American community leaders and public health practitioners to discuss issues of race, trauma, violence, policing, and mass incarceration. She is a Senior Fellow at Humanity in Action and a recipient the Leeway Foundation 2010 Social Transformation Award. 

Ryan King is a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where he works on sentencing and corrections issues with a focus on mass incarceration. His objective is to produce high-quality empirical research on the impact of sentencing and corrections policies at the state and federal level; and to work with policymakers, practitioners, and community advocates to identify strategies that assist in the pursuit of a fair, effective, and rational criminal justice system.

Glenn E. Martin, is the President and Founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030.

Our panelists will begin answering your questions on Monday April 17th.

Black Lives Matter, civil rights groups give DOJ’s drug memo a resounding ‘no’

  • Black Lives Matter movement activists and national civil rights organizations have major criticisms of Jeff Sessionsnew memo reinstating federal drug sentencing policies that have played a heavy role in mass incarceration. 
  • On Tuesday, representatives of several criminal justice reform groups plan to rally outside of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C., to call for Sessions to abandon what they call a “return to the War on Drugs.”
  • In searing statements, the NAACP, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights and voices from within the Movement for Black Lives, among others, cried foul after Sessions announced Friday his instruction to U.S. attorneys that they throw the book at drug offenders. 
  • The directive ignores state-level sentencing reform trends, and will mean harsher punishments for nonviolent defendants, as well as mandatory minimum sentences that have been disproportionately leveled at African-American and Latino communities, civil rights leaders said. Read more (5/16/17)

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zim-has-a-squeedlyspooch  asked:

Do you think maybe instead of ther prison system we have now, we could focus on rehabilitation programs? It's been proven they reduce recidivism, why is it that they aren't being funded?

Our criminal justice system is broken; it fails to keep communities safe, perpetuates a racial caste system, and costs taxpayers billions of dollars. Fear-mongering and the false, but persistent belief that punishment will somehow right the wrong for survivors and prevent future suffering keeps this broken system funded.

But people are fed up and fighting for change.

Crime survivors, the formerly incarcerated, faith leaders, local community residents, and criminal justice reform advocates, including EJUSA, are fighting for a new system that invests in true community safety and health, grounded in proven strategies that work to prevent harm, promote racial equity, address the trauma of survivors, provide true healing and accountability, as well as reduce recidivism.

We will be successful when we all collectively get involved in calling for this new system to be funded at the level required for every community to be safe. It will take all of us working together to call for a system that works.

sage--green  asked:

Which sources can I use to confirm racial bias in the criminal justice system without being immediately shot down?

For me, it all begins with this staggering statistic: 1 in 3 black men born in 2001 will spend some time in prison in their lives. 1 in 3. Let that sink in. I’ve worked in this space for closing in on 20 years, much of it addressing race and outcomes in the criminal justice system. And, to my mind, no statistic breaks down racial bias to its essence more effectively.

And, you don’t need to search far and wide for that number. It is from a federal source – the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Sometimes the simplest statistics tell the story best. To me, that 1 in 3 number talks powerfully of institutional failure coupled with racial bias.

People of color are disadvantaged at every step of the criminal justice system – from decisions in how and where to police, through prosecutorial charging, into sentencing, and finally in prisons. Racial disparity in imprisonment is likely the most common statistic you will encounter that makes this point. Those numbers result from a system that pursues justice unequally in a manner biased against people of color.

As for a great source, I’d point you to my friends at The Sentencing Project, who have been working on this issue for decades. I happen to think this is a terrific source. And, one note: Latinos are a growing part of our population, but states are woeful in what data they collect on the impact of CJ policies in Latino communities. This must be addressed.

Don’t you just love how there’s a massive problem with incarceration, but people keep breaking it down into simple solutions.

For example: If you steal, you should go to prison.

Stealing in of itself is wrong. Like the concept is pretty simple.

But would you want a person who stole food because they were hungry get 20 years in prison while a person who stole millions in liquid assets get 2 months… probation… outside of prison? 

After 6 Prison Terms, A Former Inmate Helps Other Women Rebuild Their Lives

Susan Burton knows just how hard it is to get back on track after being released from prison. It’s an experience she lived through six times, once for each of the prison terms she served.

“One of the things about incarceration is that you’re deprived. You lose all of your identity and then its given back one day and you’re ill-equipped to actually embrace it and work it,” Burton says. “Each time I left prison I left with the resolve to get my life together, to get a job, to get back on track. And each time the task became more and more and more daunting.”

Burton’s prison sentences were all drug related. After her sixth release, she finally received the addiction treatment and counseling she so desperately needed. Slowly, she began to rebuild her own life — then she turned her attention to others in Watts, the Los Angeles neighborhood she had grown up in.

Knowing what it was like to get out of prison with no money and no safe place to live, Burton started a home for women in same position. Gradually Burton’s organization, A New Way of Life, expanded from one home to five. In addition to housing, it offers 12-step programs, counseling and other help to women coming out of prison.

Burton acknowledges that her work — which brings her back to prison regularly — can be draining. “So many nights after I’ve gone into a prison and lay my head on the pillow, it’s a heavy head that I lay on the pillow,” she says. But, she adds, “It’s not hard for me to go back, because I’m going in with the purpose of freeing people up.”

Burton traces her journey from prison to recovery — and her efforts to help others — in the memoir Becoming Ms. Burton.

staystills  asked:

How would you find an equilibrium between ending this mass incarceration system and still bringing justice to those who have committed crimes ?

One of the key elements of this balance is understanding the difference between punishment and accountability.  We act as though they are the same, but they’re not.  Punishment is passive. All a person has to do to be punished is not escape. It doesn’t require work. Punishment also doesn’t produce positive change in people.  Being accountable is something else. Accountability requires five key elements:

  • acknowledging one’s responsibility for one’s actions;
  • acknowledging the impact of one’s actions on others;
  • expressing genuine remorse;
  • taking actions to repair the harm to the degree possible; and
  • no longer committing similar harm.

Accountability is often the hardest work a person can do.   The trouble is that prisons are not designed for accountability. No one in prison is required to face the human impact of what they have done; to come face-to-face with the people whose lives are changed as a result of their decision; to take responsibility for that decision; and to do the extraordinarily hard work of answering for that pain and becoming someone who will not ever commit that harm again. Prisons render that human reckoning nearly impossible. This means the criminal justice system at once inflicts harms in ways that are inconsistent with human dignity and safety and, at the same time, is structured in a way that excuses people from the obligations that do arise from hurting people.