Everything You Need To Know About Mass Incarceration In The U.S.

Everything You Need To Know About Mass Incarceration In The U.S.

"Stop and Frisk does not end crime. Stop and Frisk is a crime"
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If you are young and naive such as myself, the concept of mass incarceration may have no relevance to you, (or so you may think) or it seems like a non-U.S. problem. When I first heard the term, I thought my professor was talking about a foreign country in which incarceration and war were prevalent. But I was wrong. Mass incarceration is an alarming issue in the United States.

Let’s first take a look at the statistics. We currently hold more people in prison than any other industrialized nation. In the United States alone, there are approximately 6.5 million men and women imprisoned, on parole, or on probation (x). According to a recent study, there are 459 White, 1,258 Latino, and 3,074 Black men incarcerated per 100,000 residents of that group (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013). In 2013, a survey was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in which it was revealed that drug use between Black and White people is almost the same and Black people only account for 13% of drug use in the United States. Nonetheless, Black men and women make up for over 60% of narcotic convictions. The Rockefeller Drug Laws state that those who are found in possession of or are found dealing even small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, or heroine must serve 15 years to life in prison.

So the question is, why are these numbers so uneven? Why is it that Blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at higher rates than Whites are?

In a radio interview with Andrew Wilkow, Republican senator Rand Paul refers to the U.S. Criminal Justice system as the new Jim Crow. Jim Crow refers to a set of codes that were enforced in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction period. It made racial segregation legal and claimed its purpose was to be separate but equal. These laws were in effect until 1965 and were anything but equal. I believe senator Paul refers to the idea of Black people being controlled and watched by the authorities. While imprisoned, the system makes sure to deprive Black men from living equal lives and are condemned to live under 24/7 surveillance and poor conditions. He says, “You can kill someone in Kentucky and be eligible for parole in 12 years, but we have people in jail for marijuana sales for 55 years, life, 20 years, 25 years. We’ve gone too far in all of this and then when you add up the numbers, even the white kids and black kids use marijuana at about the same rate and in national surveys the arrests and incarceration rate is four times greater for black males than it is for white males.”

The disparity in racial incarceration rates is due to many factors. The main ones being various criminal justice practices that are considered illegal but still carried out. One being racial profiling. Often times, authorities are told to stop cars with Hispanics or Blacks inside of them because they are more likely to have drugs on them. Although Black people only make up 15% of New Jersey drivers, 35% of “random” stops are Black people and 73% of the arrests are of Black people. New York’s Stop-and-Frisk policy disproportionately targets young Black and Latino men. The amount of random searches done on Black men has currently surpassed the entire Black male population. In Los Angeles, although drug use rates are widespread across all racial groups, 90% of prosecutions for drug crimes are of Black and Latino men. Although this was recently changed, many people were incarcerated due to the difference in sentencing guidelines for possession of cocaine and crack-cocaine. For five grams of crack cocaine (most commonly used by poor Blacks) which amounts to $125 you are supposed to be imprisoned for five years. For cocaine (most commonly used by middle-class Whites) you have to be found with at least 500 grams ($500,000) of powdered cocaine to get the same sentence.

There seem to be more and more shocking facts being revealed about incarceration by the day. Now, it is permitted to sentence youth offenders as adults. Again this disproportionately affects males of color as they are sent to adult prisons although they are underage. See: This Is What Incarcerated Youth In America Looks Like. Women in prisons have reported that they were at least shackled once during child birth even after it was made illegal to so. About 75% of Mexican immigrants going through deportation proceedings for non-criminal reasons, are still incarcerated out of suspicions.

Next time someone makes a comment on how Black and Latino populations are more prone to committing crime, make sure you mention how the criminal justice system is built to work against them. It is built to antagonize people of color and keep them under full surveillance. Once these people of color finally make it out of prison, they are faced with the realities of underemployment and cannot afford to make a living due to their records. This then results in more lower class Black and Latino communities. Higher crime rates in Black and Latino communities are not because people of color are bad people, it is because the United States Criminal Justice system is consistently unjust to these communities.

Cover Image Credit: Gabriel Sanchez

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Why Your Grandma Is Your Biggest Blessing In Life

Because nobody loves you more than she does.
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There are many people in your life you are thankful for: Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, you name it. You are grateful to have people who constantly support you, who pick you up when you're down and love you unconditionally. But the one person who stands out among the rest of them is your grandma.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is The Best Person In Your Life

Ever since you were little, you and your grandma have always had a special connection. Going over to Grandma's house for the night was something you looked forward to. She knew how to entertain you at your best and worst moments. No matter what you did together, you loved it. Being with your grandma wasn't like being at home or with your parents – it was better. You went to the park, made cookies, went out to dinner, got a “sweet treat" at the mall, played Go Fish, took a bubble bath for as long as you wanted and got way too much dessert than you should have. You did things you weren't supposed to do, but Grandma didn't stop you. Because at Grandma's house there were no rules, and you didn't have to worry about a single thing. Being with Grandma was the true epitome of childhood. She let you be you. She always made sure you had the best time when you were with her, and she loved watching you grow up with a smile on your face.

The older you got, your weekend excursions with your grandma weren't as frequent, and you didn't get to see her as much. You became more and more busy with school, homework, clubs, sports, and friends. You made the most out of your time to see her, and you wished you could be with her more. Although you were in the prime of your life, she mattered even more to you the older you both became. You were with your friends 24/7, but you missed being with your grandma. When the time rolled around, and you got the chance to spend time with her, she told you never to apologize. She wanted you to go out, have fun and enjoy life the way it makes you happy.

Reflecting back on these moments with your grandma, you realize how truly special she is to you. There is no one who could ever compare to her nor will there ever be. All your life, there is no one who will be as sweet, as caring, as sincere or as genuine as her. Even though you're all grown up now, there are things about your grandma that never changed from when you were a kid. She still takes you out for your favorite meal because she knows how important eating out means to you. She writes you letters and sends you a $5 bill every now and then because she knows you're a hard-working college student with no money. She still helps you with all of your Christmas shopping because she knows it's your tradition. She still asks what's new with your young life because hearing about it makes her day and she still loves you to no end. Your grandma is your biggest blessing (whether you knew it or not), and she always will be no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Erin Kron

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President Trump Signed His First Veto Of His Presidency Over The Border Wall

Inside the border wall debate.

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The border wall has been a troubling topic over the last couple of months. This wall has caused the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States. On the afternoon of March 14th, Democrats and Republicans shut down Trump's national emergency declaration, for a wall. A 59-41 defeat was a big blow for the President, but he isn't giving up.

On Friday, March 15th there was a ceremony to be held at the Oval office. This ceremony honored mothers whose children were killed by illegal immigrants. When in the Rose Garden, President Trump announced that this national emergency occurs at the southern border. The guests were ushered to the Oval Office to see him officially reject what Congress tried to revoke. After signing it, according to the Daily Mail, he said, "Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it. And I'm very proud to veto it."

President Trump strongly believes that if the wall is built, drugs and criminals would be at an all-time low. He is convinced that all evils come from Mexico. According to Daily Mail, Attorney General William Barr said, building a wall "from the standpoint of protecting the American people, it is imperative." President Trump says that he is starting to build a more solid wall where there were already borders. He claims to be arresting many gang members, including MS-13 members.

Though members of his own party went on the opposition side, there were 12 who voted for this national emergency. Some members who voted against it are Senator Rubio (Florida), Senator Mitt Romney (Utah), Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and nine other Senators. In order to overturn the veto, there will have to be a two-thirds majority vote, meaning six more Republicans will have to be in favor of it. Congress is in a week-long rest until March 26th where they will all return.

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