Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

OP ED - Jena, OJ and the Jailing of Black America

New York Times OP- ED

Cambridge, Mass.

THE miscarriage of justice at Jena, La. — where five black high school students arrested for beating a white student were charged with attempted murder — and the resulting protest march tempts us to the view, expressed by several of the marchers, that not much has changed in traditional American racial relations. However, a remarkable series of high-profile incidents occurring elsewhere in the nation at about the same time, as well as the underlying reason for the demonstrations themselves, make it clear that the Jena case is hardly a throwback to the 1960s, but instead speaks to issues that are very much of our times.

What exactly attracted thousands of demonstrators to the small Louisiana town? While for some it was a simple case of righting a grievous local injustice, and for others an opportunity to relive the civil rights era, for most the real motive was a long overdue cry of outrage at the use of the prison system as a means of controlling young black men.

America has more than two million citizens behind bars, the highest absolute and per capita rate of incarceration in the world. Black Americans, a mere 13 percent of the population, constitute half of this country’s prisoners. A tenth of all black men between ages 20 and 35 are in jail or prison; blacks are incarcerated at over eight times the white rate.

The effect on black communities is catastrophic: one in three male African-Americans in their 30s now has a prison record, as do nearly two-thirds of all black male high school dropouts. These numbers and rates are incomparably greater than anything achieved at the height of the Jim Crow era. What’s odd is how long it has taken the African-American community to address in a forceful and thoughtful way this racially biased and utterly counterproductive situation.

How, after decades of undeniable racial progress, did we end up with this virtual gulag of racial incarceration?

Part of the answer is a law enforcement system that unfairly focuses on drug offenses and other crimes more likely to be committed by blacks, combined with draconian mandatory sentencing and an absurdly counterproductive retreat from rehabilitation as an integral method of dealing with offenders. An unrealistic fear of crime that is fed in part by politicians and the press, a tendency to emphasize punitive measures and old-fashioned racism are all at play here.



Anonymous said...

We have to ask ourselves if all of this is really a racial issue. Or, is it just the fact that more whites are determined to make something of their lives, and more blacks do nothing with theirs besides sell drugs or try to live off of people? Just because it is an unfortunate statistic, take a look around. There are many black people that will get hired at most companies just because they're black, but alot of young black people choose not to do anything with themselves. So let's not make everything a race issue. Let's just look at the facts. If the african american population doesn't like the statistics, then it's up to them to change that. I am so tired of hearing how everything is "poor blacks", when in fact it should be "poor anyone who CHOOSES not to do shit with their life". I'm just so tired of hearing it. Where I work, there are more black employees than whites. So I don't want to hear this bullshit anymore. Give it up already.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting that you would come on a blog full of "facts" and present your racial bias view of the world. People like you are a major part of the problem why there is no effective criminal justice reform in America.

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