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Friday, April 24, 2015

Feds given solutions to checkmate mass incarceration

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Of the states that have the highest incarceration rates, four are in the South,
said Daryl Atkinson from Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Durham, N.C.

If any geographic location can change the direction of racism and poverty which leads to crime and incarceration, the South - home of the Confederacy and the Civil Rights Movement - can.  

So say attendees at "The Southern Regional Meeting to End Mass Incarceration" being held at the IBEW Auditorium in Atlanta, April 23-24.  Workshops are being co-hosted by The Racial Justice Action Center and Women on the Rise, and attendance is financed by grassroots community organizations. 

Maybe it was coincidence, but this event transpired on the day Attorney General Loretta Lynch became the first African American female to be confirmed by a 56 to 43 Senate vote, making her the soon to be top Justice official in America! 

What's the problem?
Problem is, 2.3 million people are behind bars in the U.S. (2011) which represents the same number of  slaves held in the Lower South in 1860.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics also reported that 4.8 million people are on probation.

Yes, the need for justice reform is urgent, made even more pressing before the guard changes and the Obama Administration leaves office in 2016.
This work is not for the faint at heart.
You have to have a strong constitution, years of experience working with the disadvantaged, and skin in the game to hammer out solutions to help jailed and formerly incarcerated persons and their families.
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Cynthia Brown explained how systemic racism and oppression need to be analyzed.
Cynthia Brown of Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) in Durham, N. C. said we need sustained infrastructures so we will neither retreat into violence perpetrated on us nor internalize perceived unworthiness. "Black on black crime is the fruit, not the root," she said. 

"Racism, redlining, disproportionate poverty, discrimination, economic exploitation, inadequate housing - these things become internalized, and then we turn on ourselves."

Stacked deck needs reshuffling!

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Black men are incarcerated at an alarming rate, but when they are released,
many organize to reform the criminal justice system.
The deck seems stacked against those who make poor choices. They are caught and thrown into cells and cages, but many positive people are working to reshuffle the cards, making sacrifices to help prodigal sons and daughters survive outside when released. 
"Everyone is a sinner, but only some get caught and pay the price," said one attendee who claims that anyone can end up behind bars in the United States. And if and when you are released, you will run into poor employment opportunities, housing restrictions, and a host of self esteem and respect issues.  Every ill is met with incarceration, and non-whites are feeling the brunt of an unjust system.

Stats on Black incarceration are staggering.
The NAACP's latest statistics state African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population. One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime. One in 100 African American women are in prison.

Facilitators taught that the language of incarceration has to change, and so must definitions which dehumanized the formerly incarcerated. Attendees were urged not to use the words "convict, inmate, felon, or criminal" when referring to the formerly incarcerated.  

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Some believe a scientific method of investigation must be used to find solutions to
repair a broken justice system fraught with racism.
Government representatives who will be presented an action plan today will include: Karol Mason, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice; Amy Solomon, Director of Policy, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice; Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice; James Cadogan, Senior Counselor, Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, US Department of Justice; Nicole Ndumele, Legislative and Policy Counsel, Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice; Loranzo Fleming, Assistant US Attorney / Community Outreach Coordinator, US Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Georgia; James Cole, General Counsel, US Department of Education; Jacqui Freeman, Unit Chief, RExO, US Department of Labor; Terrie Dandy, Program Analyst, EEOC – Atlanta District Office; and Carlis Williams, SE Regional Administrator, Administration for Children and Families, HHS.

1 comment:

  1. PR says: Thanks, Tomi. Was good to see you again. Excellent meeting and VERY informative! Cobb Coalition


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