Monday, March 3, 2008

Do Not Pass Go. Go Straight To Jail.

Do Not Pass GO. Go Straight To Jail.
Another Black man goes to jail. And we thought that only drug dealers were being sent to jail decimating the next generation of Black males. Some statistics show that up to 75 percent of Black males between 16 and 35 are either in jail or have been in jail because of drug related offenses. Cadet Webster Smith thought that he had beat the odds. He thought that he was home free. After all, he is one of the "best and the brightest" that the Black community has produced, and he was about to graduate from one of the finest small colleges in America. His parents, Cleon and Belinda Smith, had done all that they knew how to do to protect their son from a Black mother's worst nightmare in post- Civil War America. Now, he has been to jail and is a registered sex offender.

After his kangaroo court-martial, Cadet Webster Smith was taken to the U.S. Navy brig at the Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut on 28 June 2006.

He should have been granted an 8 day deferment of the sentence. This is normally a routine thing. However, this was not a routine case. Even the vilest military convicted offender is given some time alone with his family to say good-bye. Webster Smith was not. Webster waited in a secure room under double security guards while his written Request for Deferment was presented to Admiral James Van Sice. The Admiral sat in his ivory tower with Commander Steven Gill, his military advisor, and drank coffee. Then he summarily denied the routine request without any justification whatsoever. This has never been done before. Admiral Van Sice received bad advice from his legal advisor.

As soon as Van Sice's signature was on the denial order, two flat-footed agents from the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) ordered Cadet Smith's parents to vacate the premises. Mild mannered Webster Smith was handcuffed and paraded up and down the corridor all the rabble to gawk and marvel. Poor Webster Smith was made a spectacle. Thoroughly humbled and suitably constrained, he was offered for inspection to Kristen Nicholson and Shelly Raudenbush, the two principal witnesses against him. Then, still in handcuffs, he was paraded in front of the news media for a photo opportunity. This was cruel and inhuman punishment.

America’s “War on Drugs” has cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars over the past two decades, yet failed to deliver virtually any measurable or lasting results. A significant reason for this failure is that over the course of the 1990s the federal government began to target its efforts on small time urban drug dealers and marijuana users, rather than on potentially lethal drugs like methamphetamine and the hard-core criminals who deal and traffic in them. This strategy of targeting young Black drug pushers and marijuana users is clogging our courts and swelling the populations of our state prisons and local jails. That is where the young Black men are. They are not on college campuses. They are in jail.

Web Smith was on a college campus. He was about to graduate. Then Kristen Nicholsen discovered six months after the fact that she really did not want to have sex that night. So, because she thought she had changed her mind, or couldn't remember who did what to whom on that fateful night long ago, another Black man's dream was deferred.

Oh, to have been in the crowded court room in New London, Connecticut and to hear this young virile Black cadet football player tell the jury, "I wanted to be an officer. I apologize that you have not seen that this week".


What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun,
or fester like a sore; and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over; Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode???

For the first time in America’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new 2008 report.

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.
Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006.

One in 15 Black adults is, too, as is one in nine Black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 is behind bars, but that one in 100 Black women is.

The report's methodology differed from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department's methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

Either way, said Susan Urahn, the center's managing director, "we aren't really getting the return in public safety from this level of incarceration."
"We tend to be a country in which incarceration is an easy response to crime," Urahn continued. "Being tough on crime is an easy position to take, particularly if you have the money. And we did have the money in the '80s and '90s."

Now, with fewer resources available to the states, the report said, "prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets." On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only health care, education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bond issues and from the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

It cost an average of $23,876 to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year for each inmate in Rhode Island to just $13,000 in Louisiana.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, a rate that will accelerate as the prison population ages.

About one in nine state government employees works in corrections, and some states are finding it hard to fill those jobs. California spent more than $500 million on overtime alone in 2006.

The number of prisoners in California dropped by 4,000 last year, making Texas' prison system the nation's largest, at about 172,000 inmates. But the Texas legislature approved broad changes to the state's corrections system, including expansions of drug treatment programs and drug courts and revisions to parole practices.

4 comments:

ichbinalj said...

Anonymous said; "We have more people in jail than China because they kill people rather than send them to jail.
Funny how I remember the same comment in an article in the past used in the CA. Everyone is always comparing us to China.
Are they in favor of more executions here?
The statistics did not make the criminals, the criminals made the statistics.
I agree that we should decriminalize drugs. But people who mug, rape, and murder?? They should be given Long prison terms.

We could make it more fair by requiring that everyone can only use public defenders? That would give us incentive to make sure they are the best at what they do. Rich people might spend more time in jail that way."

ichbinalj said...

kbarton wrote; "People who are behind bars need to be behind them or they wouldn't have gone there in the first place. As a society, we have passed laws and demanded that people who break laws (and get caught and convicted) go to jail. If you want less people locked up, then change the laws. Think you really want that? I don't care if they are locked up. As I said, more people+better law enforcement+the public's demand for safety= more people locked up. So far as having to pay taxes because of our criminal justice system, my suggestion is to move somewhere else, away from where so much crime occurs."

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