More Black Men in Prison Today Than Enslaved in 1850

ImageaColorLines’ Thoai Lu is reporting that the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that as of 2008, there were more than  846,000 black men in prison, making up 40.2 percent of all inmates in  the system. The article highlights a recent talk given by author Michelle Alexander, who puts those numbers in context. Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, told an audience at the Pasadena Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, “More African-American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole  than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.”

Alexander argues that prisons have become the latest form of economic and  social disenfranchisement for young people of color, particularly black  men. In it, she grapples with a central question: If crime rates have  fluctuated over the years and are now at historical lows, then why have  rates of incarcerated men of color skyrocketed over the past 30 years? The “war on drugs,” which focuses primarily on communities of color, is the answer, although multiple studies have proved that whites use and sell illegal drugs  at rates equal to or higher than blacks. Despite this data, four of five black youths in some  inner-city communities can expect to be incarcerated in their  lifetimes.

Alexander discusses how convicted felons are subject to forms of discrimination reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. This includes being denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from  juries and legally discriminated against in employment,  housing, access to education and public benefits, much like their parents or grandparents.

Alexander raises a pressing issue as states like Florida move to privatize prison systems and strip convicted felons of the right to vote even after completing their sentences. The only thing sadder than having more men in prison now than in slavery during 1850 is that many don’t understand that slavery is still legal within the prison system. Indeed, it is the only place where slavery is still legal in the United States. It is clear that our community is in trouble. What are we going to do about it?

Read more at ColorLines.

In other news: Florida Governor Wants Poor to Pay $35 for Drug Test Before Receiving Welfare.

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Jsais: I believe  the  increase of  black males being incarcerated  is directly related to the increase of the down low brother lifestyle, and the increase of  African American heterosexual women being infected with HIV/AIDs.  Time to look at the big picture……..What are we going to do about it?! 

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One thought on “More Black Men in Prison Today Than Enslaved in 1850

  1. I believe the increase of black males being incarcerated is directly related to the increase of the down low brother lifestyle, and the increase of African American heterosexual women being infected with HIV/AIDs. Time to look at the big picture……..What are we going to do about it?!

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