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More Blacks Going to Prison in 17 Key Election States
Black America, News Report,
Bonnie Winston, Aug 25, 2004

Prison spending grew five times as fast as spending for higher education in the past 20 years, according to a recent report examining prison growth in 17 states considered key to this year's presidential election.

And with the growing prison and jail population, nearly twice as many black men in their early 30s have been to prison as have obtained a bachelor's degree, according to the report by the non-profit Justice Policy Institute based in Washington, D.C.

"Prisons are growing, education is suffering and the African-American community hit hardest is increasingly shut out of the debate," Vincent Schiraldi, the institute's executive director and a co-author of the report, said in a statement. "As presidential candidates mine these states for votes, voters need to hear about how they intend to create a more balanced approach to crime that doesn't rob education to fund prisons."

The institute examined prison spending in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington (state), West Virginia and Wisconsin. Considered neither solidly Republican nor Democratic, those 17 swing states will be pivotal in whether Republican President George W. Bush is re-elected or whether his Democratic challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, wins in November.

Eric Lotke, research and policy director for the Justice Policy Institute, told that the organization hopes to have an impact on justice policy by making its findings available to citizens around the country.

"By seeing what we're spending on prisons and what we're sacrificing to do that, people can ask questions," Lotke said. "This issue of justice policies has fallen off the road map."

Among the institute's other findings in the 17 states:

"¢ Dollar for dollar, state and local spending on corrections increased more than twice as much as spending on education or health between 1977 and 2001.

"¢ The average cost of keeping a person in prison for a year was $22,650 in 2001, while the average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at a public university in 2000 was $4,800 and $14,000 at a private college.

"¢ Nearly 7 million people in the United States are in prison or jail, or are on probation or parole; that's more people than in the eight least-populated states combined.

"¢ There is a dubious connection between increases in incarceration and decreases in crime.

"¢ Nearly 2 million adults in the 17 states are ineligible to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws in those states. Nationally, about 4.7 million Americans can't vote because they have a felony conviction.

"¢ Black men make up 30 percent of disenfranchised voters, but only 6.1 percent of the U.S. population.

Having undergone "30 years of get-tough philosophy and sentencing laws," the nation's criminal justice system is "not going to change by mere tinkering around the edges," said Marc Mauer, assistant director of The Sentencing Project, a national research and advocacy group involved in criminal justice issues.

He said today's focus should be on strengthening families and communities and on changing harsh mandatory sentencing laws.

"We need to make this a non-partisan discussion ... redirecting the debate to one of fairness and effectiveness," said Mauer.

Change may be in the offing, he said, because many states are in difficult financial straits and are re-evaluating their spending priorities – prisons versus education or health care.
And, he said, because of the positive outcomes from drug courts offering treatment to lower-level drug offenders, "there is the possibility (in some states) of expanding those types of programs" as an alternative to incarceration.

"When a young black man has nearly twice the chance of going to prison as obtaining a college degree, something is terribly wrong," said Jim Lanier of the National Urban League's Institute for Opportunity and Equality. "It is imperative that we shift the investment away from locking people up into educating them.

"It is also critical that those who would hold our nation's highest office tell us how they intend to address America's massive incarceration rate and the impact it is having on the African-American community," he said.


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Originally posted by MBM:
"When a young black man has nearly twice the chance of going to prison as obtaining a college degree, something is terribly wrong," said Jim Lanier of the National Urban League's Institute for Opportunity and Equality. "It is imperative that we shift the investment away from locking people up into educating them.

I completely agree with this statement but it is going to be hard to enact these much needed changes under the current capitalist system. The Prison Industrial complex is one of the largest groing "industries" in the U.S. and has largely been privatized...In other words, the corporate "gods" are the ones determineing the public policy because they are the "Big Buisiness" that runs the politicians. There isn't much the African/Balck community in the U.S. can do within the system to counteract that "financial "incentive"...inside this system that is...
State Total Felons Rate for Total* Black Men Rate for Black Men**
Alabama 241,100 7.5% 105,000 31.5%
Alaska 4,900 1.2% 500 6.3%
Arizona 74,600 2.3% 6,600 12.1%
Arkansas 27,400 1.5% 10,700 9.2%
California 241,400 1.0% 69,500 8.7%
Colorado 15,700 0.6% 3,500 6.1%
Connecticut 42,200 1.7% 13,700 14.8%
Delaware 20,500 3.7% 8,700 20.0%
District of Columbia 8,700 2.0% 8,100 7.2%
Florida 647,100 5.9% 204,600 31.2%
Georgia 134,800 2.5% 66,400 10.5%
Hawaii 3,000 0.3% 100 0.9%
Idaho 3,800 0.5% 100 2.7%
Illinois 38,900 0.4% 24,100 4.5%
Indiana 16,800 0.4% 6,800 4.6%
Iowa 42,300 2.0% 4,800 26.5%
Kansas 7,800 0.4% 2,800 5.6%
Kentucky 24,000 0.8% 7,000 7.7%
Louisiana 26,800 0.9% 19,600 4.8%
Maine 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
Maryland 135,700 3.6% 67,900 15.4%
Massachusetts 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
Michigan 42,300 0.6% 22,700 5.4%
Minnesota 56,000 1.6% 7,200 17.8%
Mississippi 145,600 7.4% 81,700 28.6%
Missouri 58,800 1.5% 20,100 11.3%
Montana 2,100 0.3% 0 2.9%
Nebraska 11,900 1.0% 2,100 10.2%
Nevada 16,800 1.4% 4,000 10.0%
New Hampshire 2,100 0.2% 100 3.8%
New Jersey 138,300 2.3% 65,200 17.7%
New Mexico 48,900 4.0% 3,700 24.1%
New York 126,800 0.9% 62,700 6.2%
North Carolina 96,700 1.8% 46,900 9.2%
North Dakota 700 0.1% 0 1.1%
Ohio 46,200 0.6% 23,800 6.2%
Oklahoma 37,200 1.5% 9,800 12.3%
Oregon 7,300 0.3% 900 4.5%
Pennsylvania 34,500 0.4% 18,900 5.2%
Rhode Island 13,900 1.8% 2,800 18.3%
South Carolina 48,300 1.7% 26,100 7.6%
South Dakota 2,100 0.4% 100 3.5%
Tennessee 97,800 2.4% 38,300 14.5%
Texas 610,000 4.5% 156,600 20.8%
Utah 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
Vermont 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
Virginia 269,800 5.3% 110,000 25.0%
Washington 151,500 3.7% 16,700 24.0%
West Virginia 6,700 0.5% 900 4.4%
Wisconsin 48,500 1.3% 14,900 18.2%
Wyoming 14,100 4.1% 400 27.7%
U.S. Total 3,892,400 2.0% 1,367,100 13.1%

Human Rights Watch Report: LOSING THE VOTE: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States

In the table above, the columns are as follows:

(1) Total number of adults disenfranchised due to felony disenfranchisement laws

(2) Percentage of total adult population disenfranchised due to felony disenfranchisement laws

(3) Total number of adult black males disenfranchised due to felony disenfranchisement laws

(4) Percentage of adult black males disenfranchised due to felony disenfranchisement laws
Mr. ricardo,

I found your chart above very interesting - especially the figures for the state of Hawaii. In fact, it prompted me to look up the current number of black inmates among the Hawaii prison population. That number astonished me, and I'll tell you why...

Twenty years ago, while attending the U. of Hawaii at Manoa, I worked part-time and summers at a small video and electronics firm in Honolulu to help defray my school costs. The company had a service contract to maintain the internal closed-circuit TV systems at two of Hawaii's biggest prisons, the Halawa State Facility and the OCCC in Kalihi. As the lowest tech on the service shop senority totem pole, I was given the thankless task of answering repair requests from the prisons. Over a period of three years, I must have been called to the prison at least 25-30 times (their equipment was pretty crappy stuff; always breaking down or being vandalized by the prisoners). Since many of the cameras were in the cellblocks themselves, I'd have to go there often to do the on-site repair.

Anyway, it was always a bit of a treacherous undertaking. My personal version of "scared straight," if you follow me. Those were some pretty mean-azzed hombres! Native Hawaiians, Samoans and Filipinos mostly, but also a good sprinkling of Asians and haole boys (whites) too. I distinctly remember, however, seeing only a few black inmates in all the times I went on the service calls. Indeed, I once mentioned that fact to one of the guards who would "chaperone" me, himself a black guy recently out of the military. He told me there couldn't be more than 20 or 30 black inmates in the entire Hawaii prison system in those days. That's why I was left speechless to read today that the black inmate population in Hawaii now exceeds 230 unhappy souls!

Without much else to go on, I can venture only one educated guess for the dramatic increase: drug-dealing. I know Hawaii has had a massive problem over the past two decades dealing with the sale and use of meth, cocaine and heroin. Apparently, like many other "malihini" from the mainland, black folks have been migrating to the islands for more than just the sun and surf, and ending up behind bars because of it. Sad, sad, sad...
There isn't much the African/black community in the U.S. can do within the system to counteract that "financial "incentive"...inside this system that is...---Oshun Auset

Unfortunately, you are right. There isn't much we can do. The prison system not only fails to effectively 'rehabilitate', the penal system will stand in the way of anyone coming to help those so inclined to improve their self-image.

Religion is the only currently successful leverage allowed. It is successful only because the system can't bar religion.

Pennsylvania's Department of Correction won't let me, or anyone of my ilk, through the door. Not anymore that is.

I also find the same 'gatekeeper' mentality in public schools and the State-operated human services agencies.

Some may recognize this as a characteristic of the plantation system. Pennsylvania is a hugh subscriber to this philosophy.


Jim Chester
by Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.
The earliest settlers of African ancestry arrived in Hawaii well before the missionaries' 1821 arrival. Until Hawai'i became a territory in 1898, many of these black immigrants were active in the community as advisors, entrepreneurs and musicians. One man, called Black Jack or Mr. Keaka'ele'ele was already living on O'ahu when Kamehameha conquered the island in 1796. It is said he helped to build a store house for Queen Ka'ahumanu in Lahaina, and probably made his living in the maritime industry ("Early Black Businessmen in Hawai'i."; Afro Hawaii News. Marc Scruggs).

Another individual, known as Black Jo was a long time resident, trader, and the Sail Master for King Kamehameha II, working with his trading vessels and acting as an advisor and interpreter for the King. He died in 1828 (ibid. Marc Scruggs).

In 1811, there came to the island of O'ahu an ex-slave, Anthony D. Allen, from New York. In 1813, he took a Hawaiian wife, had three children and was granted six acres of land in Waikiki by a high priest (Honolulu Advertiser. July. 1991. B 1.), where he prospered and was much respected in the community and was known as "an entrepreneur extraordinaire." He established a boarding house, a bowling alley, a "dram shop" (saloon), and the first hospital for American seamen in Pawa'a. He was also a dairyman, farmer and blacksmith, supplying vegetables, livestock and service to residents and ship captains. His popular boarding house was widely known for its excellent cuisine and entertainment. Allen is given credit for building one of the first schools in the islands and the first carriage road to Manoa Valley. He was so highly respected by the Hawaiian royalty that they gave him land to hold and pass on to his descendants. That land is the present site of the Washington Intermediate school near King and Kalakaua. Allen's son was a paniolo (cowboy). Allen died in 1835. ("A Black Friend of Hawaii Missionaries." Marc Scruggs. Honolulu Star Bulletin. Jan. 12, 1987, p. A-10.)

Between 1820-1880, there arrived on whaling ships descendants of Black Portuguese men from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. Some stayed married and became residents and worked as musicians, tailors, cooks, barbers and sailors. ("Census Notes of the Negroes in Hawaii Prior To The War (1945)" by Romanzo Adams. Social Process. p. 214.)

It must be remembered that a number of African American men were entrepreneurs and active in early Hawaii business matters. A paradox of opportunities given the extreme racial climates of oppression and slavery in the states. "William the Baker" was the king's cook and sold his place in 1833. Joseph Bedford, known as Joe Dollar had a boarding house from 1826 for almost twenty years. Spencer Rhodes operated a barber shop in 1838, Frederick E. Binns had his barber shop by 1845 and Charles Nicholson, an African American tailor, was designing and sewing in the 1840's until 1861. William Johnson also had a barber shop in 1863 ("Blacks in Old Hawaii" by R. A. Greer. Honolulu. November. 1966.)

African Americans starred in the musical world of early Honolulu. Four African Americans formed a royal brass band for Kamehameha III in 1834, and he hired America Shattuck as first master and David Curtis as second master. Another African American, George W. Hyatt, organized a larger band in 1845 with Charles Johnson as band leader. Nine other men participated. ("Blacks in Old Hawaii" by R. A. Greer. Honolulu Magazine. November 1966.)

Also noteworthy was Betsy Stockton, an intelligent and dignified ex-slave of the President of Princeton University, who had studied extensively using the comprehensive library of her ex- master and attending evening classes at Princeton Theological Seminary. She accompanied the Charles Stuart family with the second group of missionaries to arrive in Hawaii aboard the ship Thames in 1823 from New Haven, Connecticut. She learned the Hawaiian language and was one of the founders of Lahainaluna School on Maui, probably the first school for commoners or maka'ainana, where she spent two years as a teacher of English, Latin, History and Algebra (1823-25), before her untimely return to the East Coast due to the illness of Mrs. Stuart. She is also remembered for her high moral and religious character and for helping to heal the sick while on Maui. (Pacific Commercial Advertiser. May 12, 1906. and Historical Missionary Album. 1863. p. 922.)

Because of the great slavery debate in the United States and the many of plantations owners were from or familiar with the slave system in the south, Blacks were intentionally excluded from the proposed lists of immigrant groups sought in the 1850s to provide contract labor by the Kingdom of Hawaii by local missionaries and abolitionists opposed to contract labor. (Nordyke. p. 244.) At one point, U.S. Secretary of State Blaine urged the importation of Blacks and not Asians to help replenish the dwindling Hawaiian population, only to meet resistance and aversion to Negro immigrants. Hence there were no significant numbers of Black immigrants until after Hawai'i became a Territory in 1900.

Although individual African Americans were accepted into the community, mass immigration of African Americans was discouraged by legal restraint as early as 1882 when sugar planters wanted to import large numbers of Blacks to relieve their labor shortage. Moreover, again in 1913, there were strenuous efforts to keep the 25th Negro Infantry Regiment from being stationed here; yet they came and remained for several years without creating friction and made quite a favorable impression. Unfortunately, there were some prominent African American immigrants who never wanted to be affiliated with the darker races and silently blended into the local community denying their African American heritage.

In the late nineteenth century, Booker T. Washington, the famous educator from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, came to Hawai'i to investigate the possibilities of African American plantation workers being used here to supplement the growing Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos and Portuguese workers. To his surprise and discovery, he found the working conditions here in many ways worse than in the South at that time.

However, by 1901, the first group of about two hundred African American laborers was brought here by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association from Louisiana and Alabama to join the other Oriental plantation workers on the islands of Maui and Hawaii. Many later returned South or were amalgamated into the local community (Hawaiian Annual. 1902 p. 164)

The Puerto Ricans who came to Hawai'i around 1901 were in the main also of Negro, Indian, and Spanish descent although in the census they were listed as Caucasian until 1940, probably due to the Spanish part of their heritage.

In 1907, another small group of twenty-five to thirty families came to Maui recruited from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, including the lawyer Crockett family and Mr. Maple, a chemist. The Maple School on Maui is named for the family.

Just before and after annexation in 1898, several African Americans from the United States participated in politics and government and made the islands their home. Among them was T. McCants Stewart, an attorney, who was in the cabinet of King Kalakaua and helped in drafting the Organic Act of the territory, and on several occasions aided Hawaiians in regaining their lost kuleanas. His daughter, Carlotta Stewart Lai, arrived in 1898 and graduated in 1902 from what is now the illustrious Punahou School, she later became a principal at Kauai's Hanamaulu School. William F. Crockett, another attorney, came to Hawai'i in 1901, and later to became district magistrate of Wailuku, Maui, judge, and territorial senator. His wife and mother were outstanding teachers and his son became deputy county attorney of Maui. James Oliver Mitchell, was born in Koloa, Kauai in 1893. He was a teacher for 46 years on O'ahu, and Maui, principal, coach and finally Athletic Director at Farrington H. S. in Kalihi on O'ahu; and Nolle R. Smith, another illustrious resident of Honolulu, in the early part of this century, was an engineer here, a fiscal expert in Haiti, Ecuador and Puerto Rico and a member of the territorial house of representatives. The family also acquired a considerable amount of land. Another early African American pioneer was Eva B. Jones Smith known as Eva Cunningham who was the first woman to have a radio show in Hawai'i and whose piano school was "the place to go" before 1920.

In 1915, Alice Ball, an African American chemist at the University of Hawaii did major research towards the cure of leprosy. (Damien, The Leper.)

Once more, in 1941, at the outbreak of World War II, there was another mass movement including the City and County government of Honolulu, the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, the central council of Hawaiian organizations, and several unions, to discourage the War Department from sending a labor battalion of 600 African Americans to unload ships. Yet, with the coming of World War II, several thousand African American men and some women came to help the war effort as soldiers and defense workers. During this period, there was much friction between Caucasian and African American soldiers manifesting in fights, racial slurs and near riots.

The army, navy, and marine corps generally maintained separate (segregated) living quarters. Only at Schofield Barracks could men live, work and play together without friction.

Unfortunately, as the military established itself in the 1940s and more tourists began to arrive, the local populace learned indirectly, often through rumor and hearsay, more about African Americans and their inferior status on the Mainland. The consequence was the subtle adaptation of attitudes and stereotypes from the dominant economic and socially acceptable Whites.

Moreover, the media perpetrated the latent anti-Black sentiment of the mainland press by reprinting stories which presented the African American in negative stereotypes identifying him/her by race whenever a crime was committed by pointed labeling. Likewise, news and reports from the Mainland of lynching and riots were sensational in contrast with the relative harmony here.

Fortunately, the result of these often latent anti-Black feelings brought by the multitude of Mainland Caucasians has not developed into the crystallized prejudice often found on the Mainland, but has nevertheless manifested with some local people in the form of aversion in varying degrees.

During the 1940s and 1950s for example, for some Japanese, "on the spot"; after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was deemed "indiscreet'' to be friendly with African Americans and it was known that the FBI opposed an affinity between them and the suspected recalcitrant Black group.

Other instances of this aversion were patterns of discrimination in hiring, refusal of service at some restaurants, barber shops and taverns to African Americans, reluctance to rent housing units, sell leasehold/fee property to them, and the denial of cordiality generally given by the average local person to a White person. There was also the ostracism of women who dared to date African American men.

After the war, conditions became less strained when most African Americans returned to the mainland. Those who remained and those who arrived subsequently most often blended into the local community since there is no defined black neighborhood or community. Many have become active business persons, government employees and a few have had successful careers in politics and education like Charles Campbell, the former representative from Kalihi, Helene Hale, former "mayor" of the big island of Hawai'i, and Donnis Thompson, educator and former head of the Department of Education. Others have been successful in the fields of entertainment (Trummy Young), the arts (Lilli James), education (Dr. Miles Jackson), and the sciences (Dr. Ernest Harris, Entomologist), to mention a few professions. Sadly, however, the obstacle of racism has not disappeared.

Today, the African American as a group has still not been fully accepted in Hawai'i, although there is much lip-service given to the practice of racial harmony.

For example, according to a 1982 statistic, there were 330 black businesses in Hawaii, but only 23 had paid employees, suggesting that the majority were sole proprietorships, and almost half had gross receipts of less than $5000.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, the approximately 27,700 African Americans residing in Hawaii comprise 2.5% of the total population (Honolulu Advertiser 1991: A1), up from the 17,364 and 1.8% figure quoted in the 1980 census. Of the 27,700 total, there are more than one third in the armed forces and almost fifty percent listed as military dependents leaving about 4000 other civilians.
Friday :: May 30, 2003

New Federal Sentencing Law Takes Effect
The Feeney Amendment went into effect today, along with the Amber Alert Bill (and the revised RAVE Act.) Federal Judges, from those at the District Court level up through Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist are not happy:

Beginning today, federal judges will have less discretion than ever to craft sentences for criminals, because of a little-debated new law that increases the minimum amount of prison time for several crimes and will dramatically change federal sentencing.

....''It turns me into a bureaucrat, and I do not believe for a moment that the public wants that,'' said Nancy Gertner, a US district judge in Massachusetts who has written and lectured on the existing federal guidelines, which already tightly control the range of sentences judges can hand down.

A parade of critics -- US Supreme Court justices, the American Bar Association, the Judicial Conference of the United States, and several current and former federal prosecutors -- has attacked the bill for taking discretion from trial judges.

Under the new law, Congress has "taken the unprecedented step" of dictating to federal judges what sentences must be imposed. Since 1986, when the U.S. Sentencing Commission was established, that role has belonged to the Commission. (the federal sentencing guidelines went into effect in 1987.)

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, a conservative, criticized the legislation publicly this month, as did his liberal colleague on the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, an architect of the original sentencing guidelines. Judges, they believe, should have the freedom to go outside the guideline structure in the kinds of unusual, individual circumstances impossible for Congress to foresee.

We have criticized this legislation repeatedly since the day it was proposed. You can access of all of our criticism here.

The legislation is also unnecessary:

Nationwide, judges depart from sentencing guidelines in 18 percent of cases, according to US Sentencing Commission data. But the American Bar Association says that prosecutors request about three-quarters of those departures, usually for criminal defendants who cooperate in other investigations.

Here are some of the negative aspects of the law:

One provision of the new law orders the US Sentencing Commission to explain every instance in which a federal judge or district frequently sentences criminals to less than the guideline minimum. Another requires data on every judge's sentencing behavior to be handed over to Congress, where it can be released to the public, a move that critics such as Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, say will result in a ''judicial blacklist.'' The number of judges on the US Sentencing Commission will also be reduced, so that judges are a minority on the panel.

Sen. Kennedy has already introduced legislation to repeal the sentencing law, which was passed as an add-on to the Amber alert bill.

It has ''everything to do with handcuffing judges and eliminating fairness in our federal sentencing system,'' said a statement Kennedy released. ''Enacted without hearings or meaningful debate, the Feeney Amendment was a giant step in the wrong direction.''

Posted Friday :: May 30, 2003
Racial Disparity

As the national inmate population has increased in recent decades, the impact of these changes on minority communities has been particularly dramatic. Two-thirds of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities, and for black males in their twenties, one in every eight is in prison or jail on any given day. Moreover, black males born today have a one in three chance of going to prison during their lifetime, compared to a one in seventeen chance for white males. These trends have been exacerbated by the impact of the "war on drugs," with three-fourths of all drug offenders being persons of color, far out of proportion to their share of drug users in society. Racial disparity in the criminal justice system is a product of a number of factors - higher rates of involvement in some offenses, social and economic disparities, legislative policies, and the use of discretion by criminal justice decision makers.

Our staff and consultants produce policy and practitioner materials on racial disparity, as well as providing technical assistance to jurisdictions addressing these issues.
Sentencing Law and Policy

Changes in sentencing law and policy, not increases in crime rates, explain most of the six-fold increase in the national prison population since the early 1970s. These changes have also shifted the power of sentencing from judges to the prosecutor, imposed determinate sentencing schemes which prevent judges from evaluating the circumstances of the offense and offender, and increased the use of legislatively-imposed "one size fits all" mandatory and determinate sentences that allow for little consideration of individual characteristics. Recent court decisions continue the tradition of giving legislatures vast authority to authorize or require even the most severe sentences without permitting the presiding judge to use discretion in order to reach a sentence fitting to the particulars of the case.

The Sentencing Project analyzes law, policy and practice with the goal of promoting reforms in sentencing procedure, more moderate lengths of sentence, increased use of alternatives to punishment, meaningful redress to victims and the community, and restoration of judicial discretion.
Collateral Consequences

Since the early 1990s, an increasing number of laws and policies have been enacted that restrict persons with a felony conviction (particularly convictions for drug offenses) from accessing many social benefits and economic opportunities. These include restrictions on employment, receipt of welfare benefits, access to public housing, and eligibility for student loans for higher education. These prohibitions are imposed by legislative bodies and are applied without any judicial discretion regarding type of offense or individual circumstances. Many collateral penalties have no relation to the traditional goals of punishment, but severely affect offenders' life prospects through employment and other restrictions.

The Sentencing Project publishes analyses of the impact of these policies and is engaged with other advocates in calling policymaker attention to the need for reform.
Facts on women in prison

The number of women in state and federal prisons increased over 500 percent -- to 84,400 -- between 1980 and the end of 1998. (Women in Prison, Issues and Challenges Confronting U.S. Correctional Systems, GAO/GGD-00-22, December 1999, p. 2)

The annual prison population growth for women from 1990 through 1998 averaged 8.5 percent, versus an average annual increase of 6.6 percent for male inmates. (Women in Prison, Issues and Challenges Confronting U.S. Correctional Systems, GAO/GGD-00-22, December 1999, p. 3)

Black women were more than eight times as likely as white women to be in prison in 1997. (Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, Human Rights Watch, May 2000, p. 3)

In 1997, 58.8 percent of the federal female inmates and 65.3 percent of all state female inmates had children under the age 18. (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, August 2000, p. 2)

An estimated 126,100 children had a mother in prison in 1999, up from 63,700 in 1991. (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, August 2000, p. 2)

Women and drug offenses

Nationwide, 42.2 percent of all black women and 36.1 percent of all white women admitted to prison in 1996 were convicted of drug offenses. (Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, Human Rights Watch, May 2000, p. 24)

Some 71.7 percent of the female inmates in federal prison were serving time for drug offenses in 1997, up from 65.5 percent in 1991. (Women in Prison, Issues and Challenges Confronting U.S. Correctional Systems, GAO/GGD-00-22, December 1999, p. 24)

The 3,133 women serving federal sentences for drug offenses account for 13.9 percent of all federal drug offenders. (1999 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, U.S. Sentencing Commission, p. 70)

The offense breakdown of female federal drug offenders shows 17.8 percent incarcerated on heroin charges, 16.2 percent on methamphetamine, 14.67 percent on powder cocaine, 13.9 percent on marijuana, 10.2 percent on crack cocaine, and 18.3 percent on charges for other drug types. (1999 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, U.S. Sentencing Commission, p. 70)

The number of women incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses rose by 888 percent from 1986 to 1996, in contrast to a rise of 129 percent for non-drug offenses. (Gender and Justice: Women, Drugs and Sentencing Policy, by Marc Mauer, Cathy Potler and Richard Wolfe, November 1999)

Some 34.4 percent of female inmates in state prisons were serving time for drug offenses, up from 32.8 percent in 1991. (Women in Prison, Issues and Challenges Confronting U.S. Correctional Systems, GAO/GGD-00-22)

FAMM "¢ 1612 K St., N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20006
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Here Comes The Judge
State: Bounce Oklahoma jurist for "pumping it up" on bench
JUNE 24--While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist. According to the below complaint filed by the Oklahoma Attorney General, Donald D. Thompson, 57, was caught in the act by a clerk, trial witnesses, and his longtime court reporter (these unsettling first-hand accounts will make you wonder what's going on under other black robes). Visitors to Thompson's Creek County courtroom reported hearing a "swooshing" sound coming from the bench, a noise the court reporter said "sounded like a blood pressure cuff being pumped up." Thompson, the complaint charges, even pumped himself up during an August 2003 murder trial. The AG's petition quotes Thompson (pictured above) as admitting that the pump was "under the bench" during the murder case (and at other times), but he denied using the item, which was supposedly a "gag gift from a friend." (9 pages)
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
There isn't much the African/black community in the U.S. can do within the system to counteract that "financial "incentive"...inside this system that is...---Oshun Auset

_Unfortunately, you are right. There isn't much we can do. The prison system not only fails to effectively 'rehabilitate', the penal system will stand in the way of anyone coming to help those so inclined to improve their self-image.

Religion is the only currently successful leverage allowed. It is successful only because the system can't bar religion.

Pennsylvania's Department of Correction won't let me, or anyone of my ilk, through the door. Not anymore that is.

I also find the same 'gatekeeper' mentality in public schools and the State-operated human services agencies.

Some may recognize this as a characteristic of the plantation system. Pennsylvania is a hugh subscriber to this philosophy._


Jim Chester

I used to go into SCI Huntingdon (maximum security - Mumia Abul Jamal was there for a number of years) and SCI Smithfield (medium security) when I lived in Huntingdon, PA as an official visitor with the Pennsylvania Prison Society. I do not know if you are familiar with them, but I they might be one means of gaining access into the prisons. Founded by the Quakers, the society came about with the creation of the penal system in PA to insure the well being of prisoners. Official visitors have the same rights to meet with inmates as do their attornies. We got letters all the time dealing various issues. I have met some of the most gifted and giving individuals that I know in those institutions, especially among the lifers.

You might also want to check out CURE. I am not sure if they are still operating in the state, but they are also pretty good about getting people into the prisons and jails who wish to help out. Finally, with the student volunteer coordinator at the college where I worked at the time, we got some students in to do some tutoring in the prisons education program.

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