Some of you know that this is a pet project of mine, so you know I had to jump right into it.
I really appreciated the concept of the cradle to prison super-highway (CPS), but there was one aspect of it that I wish had been addressed.
Black folks have to get out there and serve on juries. For time out of mind, Black folks were not allowed to sit on juries, and Black folks accused of crimes were tried by all white juries. Many steps by the Supreme Court in the last 100 years have sought to remedy this, but there are many ways to circumvent the Supreme Court's wishes.
One example is that convicted fellons are barred from sitting on juries. Now, who gets all the convictions? Also, most jury selections in the U.S. are begun by compiling voter registration lists. So, if your not registered, you won't even be considered for jury service. When they compile these lists, they mail out tests to confirm sutability for service. There is all manner of corruption that can happen in this, from targeting certain neighborhoods and not others, to simply sending the tests too late for them to be returned on time.
From the African Americans who have already been through the justice system with convictions, to those that are not registered to vote (or straight up disenfrachised) and not even given an invitation to serve, the end result is that when we arrive in court, we are being denied the right to a jury of our peers!
I don't know the answer to this problem, but I will say this... If you have an opportunity to serve on a jury, just do it! Don't duck and dodge, don't ask for exemption, don't give them a reason not to seat you. There is a very good chance that some Black man or woman needs you on that jury.
The other part of this chapter I would like to address is drug policy reform.
This is so messed up I scarcely know where to begin...
The example given in this chapter is in regards to the federal sentencing disparities between cocaine and crack.
"...conviction for the sale of 500 grams of [cocaine] carries a five-year mandatory sentence, selling only five grams of crack cocaine garners the same five-year sentence. The punishment for the two substances has a 100:1 ratio." - pg. 61
My impression is this...
Throughout the history of drug enforcement, it has been slanted heavily toward controlling certain groups of people. Marijuana was originally added to the federal controlled substances list in order to control Mexican immigrants. As the next chapter indicates (I'll get to that one next), the vast majority of drug users (including crack users) are White. Yet, Black people are far more likely to be stopped, searched, ect. The vast majority of Black folks in prison right now are there on drug offenses.
The idea of equalizing mandatory sentencing sounds like an important step. But, it doesn't really address the unequal enforcement of the law, which I believe is the real problem.
In my opinion, no one (white or black) should be doing prison time for drug offenses. The entire "War on Drugs" needs to be brought to a grinding halt. The billions of dollars we're putting into this war does nothing but fill up prisons. Controlled substance abuse has increased every single year since the controlled substance list was created in 1914.
We need to start seeing drug abuse as a health issue, and not a criminal one. Criminalizing unhealthy practices does not solve the problem. We also need to stop buying this nonsense that drug enforcement is actually helping our communities. It is not. I have yet to see any evidence to support that position.