Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prison and after: the New Jim Crow

The U. S. prison system contributes to the deterioration of our urban communities. The manner in which our criminal justice system treats minority citizens sets them, their families and their neighborhoods on a downward spiral into deep personal and social decline. The prison systems appears to be designed to make sure the majority of those involved return to prison again and again.

Listen to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, describe the awful reality that we confront every day. Things need to change.

5 comments:

rcorum said...

I watched the clip and it is hard to argue with her main points. My question for you is what would you change? I for one think the way we handle drug laws in the country is totally broken. I don't think I am ready to decriminalize illegal drug use, but our current system doesn't seem to be having much impact on our "war" on drugs. It also makes no sense to me that crack cocaine is handled differently from regular cocaine. Drug addicts need help not prison. There also needs to a way in place where by a non-violent drug offender has a way to have their record expunged after the successful completion of rehab program. Building more jails is not even a bandaid for the problem. Again, what would you change? It is one thing to identify a problem and another to offer practical solutions.

Larry James said...

Actually, rc, you lay out some of the main issues that need to be reformed: treatment over prison, new starts after redemption, a serious evaluation of ROI in the current system. You've gone to the heart of the matter. We have a few innovative "divert" courts here in Dallas, but they are organized by concerned judges. We need a system change. I've often thought that hospital systems could develop new treatment "products" and be paid for their effective work via funds currently used for prisons, but we have strong prison lobby to contend with. It is here and in other issues areas like this one that I feel the church could be a powerful force for change--no so much in providing the direct services, though some of that is done; but mainly in the area of public policy advocacy.

Lorlee said...

Also, for all those worried about government spending at all levels, they should look at how much is consumed on this system. The financial cost is substantial and ever increasing -- let alone the cost to society in broken lives, families and communities.

seanpalmer said...

Larry,

This reminds me of Douglas Blackmon's "Slavery by Another Name." Hove you read it.

Larry James said...

Sean, I have not, but I'll look for it. Title says it all, I expect. Keep the faith.