Category: Opinion Published on Friday, 18 May 2012 10:28
(NNPA)—Don’t you think that it’s time to reform America’s criminal justice system? It is an unfair, racist and dishonest system in need of abandonment. In the last 40 years an insidious prison industrial complex has developed to the detriment of African-American males. It seems that politicians on both sides of legislative aisle are decidedly more interested in sending African-Americans to prison than to college. It’s time to sound the alarm on the harm the American prison industrial complex is perpetrating across Black America.
How is it that African-Americans seem to be missing the mass incarceration of our male population? It’s time public security be put on African-Americans’ disproportionate prison population numbers. Going to prison represents lifelong exclusion from “proper society,” including job discrimination, elimination from juries and voter rolls, and disqualification from access to food stamps, public housing and student loans. People considered to be Black leaders need to address the devastating effect the war on drugs has on Blacks.
The American justice system is racist, outmoded and deserving of public scrutiny and disbandment. It has made Black males the most socially disenfranchised group in the country. It should be of major concern to Blacks that 10.4 percent of the African-American male population aged 25 to 29 is incarcerated. We all know someone “in trouble.” More than 3 million Black households have a close relative presently or previously on parole or probation. The number of Black men in prison has grown to the point that more African-American college-aged men are in jail than in college. Since the war on drugs was launched, the U.S. has spent more than a trillion dollars to incarcerate millions of young people on drug charges. The war on drugs has created a marginalized underclass that is denied equal access to job and educational opportunities.
Black voters guilty of electing the same politicians to office term-after-term need to take into account the harm the war on drugs has wrought over the past 40 years. Isn’t it time to take these elected officials to task for the laws and legislation to which they have been participants that has helped toward the genocide of Black male? To allow these laws, and lawmakers, to languish is a crime.
Little of the $321.6 billion the global drug trade generates comes to Blacks—but most of the grief does. The U.S. is the single largest marketplace for illegal drugs. Close to 13 million Americans regularly buy, or sell, cocaine, ecstasy or weed to party with on the weekends, but they are not the ones who go to jail for drug crimes. American drug sales and their huge profits exist outside Black communities. It’s estimated that $10 to $30 billion in drug profits goes south each year. The real beneficiaries of the American drug trade are: wealthy bankers who wash money, landowners who grow and export product, and Wall Street investors and business folk who profit from designing, building, supplying and managing prisons.
Black voters are the key to correcting this problem and its inequities and hold sway over this debilitating problem. Though these issues are real for Black Americans at the local, state and national levels, they are never talked about in racial terms. Candidate Ron Paul is the only one willing to say, “The true racial problems in this country involve drug law enforcement. The drug war is out of control…and undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spent, over the last 40 years, $1 trillion on this war… It just hasn’t worked. It has to do with enforcing the drug laws.”
It may not require voting for Ron Paul, but Black Americans must take more aggressive political positions to rid our people of this criminal justice and prison system. Stop the genocide. People of concern must let our elected officials know that we want to decriminalize cocaine, heroin and marijuana in order to close the doors on diabolical prisons and policies.
(William Reed is publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via the Bailey Group.org)
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