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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I'm An 18-Year-Old Female And I Will Never Be A Feminist

Honestly, I'd rather be caught dead than caught calling myself a modern-day feminist.
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"A man told me to have a good day... I'm triggered." How ludicrous does that sound? Tune in because that is the extent of modern day feminism.

Sure, I think boys are stupid and that I'm probably better than 90% of the male population, but that doesn't make me a modern-day feminist. Now I believe that woman should stand up for themselves, and Golding's quote: "I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been," is by far one of my favorite quotes... but modern day feminism is not something I want to be associated with.

I'm all for "anything you can do I can do better," and "We can do it!" but realistically speaking in some situations, that isn't feasible. As an 18-year-old woman who works out regularly, and is stronger than the average female, I couldn't carry a 190-pound man back to a safe zone after he was shot on the front line of a war even if I tried. It is not anatomically possible for a grown woman to be as strong as a fully developed male.

Reality check: Men and women are not equal.

They are not physically equal, they are not mentally equal. Modern-day feminism is equality between the two genders, but corrupt and on steroids. I support what feminism used to be. I support women who work hard and have goals and ambition... not girls who hate men and stomp around with no shirts on to piss off the public. Feminism has developed into a polluted teaching that young men and women are plunging into.

We are built dissimilarly.

The human brain is literally an organ that is sex oriented. There is a cognitive difference, that singlehandedly destroys gender equality.

I will not spend my time running a revolution against anyone who likes Donald Trump. I am not going to binge watch Trump's twitter in an effort to start some leftist gob of drama. I refuse to be part of this head hunt to attack all Republicans on the newest Instagram post made about how feminism is stupid. I do not hate men, and society would crash and burn without the successful men and women who work together to create what we call the United States of America.

Why, you ask? Why are the 15-25 year olds of our society clinging to feminism? They are hopping on the rapidly growing bandwagon where all the hipsters, feminists and Trump haters reside. It's "cool" to hate Donald Trump. Twitter is a world of liberalism, hatred and fake love towards all. Social media is where this generation is living — and modern-day feminism brews there.

We need to keep separation in the household within roles.

We must raise our children to do what they are best at rather than trying to do something they are incapable of just to prove an irrelevant point.

Women must stand up for what they believe in and be strong in their shoes, while not getting so caught up in what your modern day feminist says she thinks is right.

We cannot let this briskly changing society sway us away from what is going to keep the world working precisely.

Cover Image Credit: Macey Joe Mullins

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To Fix Taxes, We Have To Rethink 'Wealthy'

"Wealthy" doesn't mean the same for everyone.

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When discussing taxes today, so many politicians are quick to rush to the adage "tax the rich." Bernie Sanders has called for the rich to be taxed higher to pay for Medicare for All. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for a 70% tax on the wealthy.

However, all of these proposals are missing a key thing: a true definition of rich.

When thinking about what counts as rich, it is important to distinguish between the "working wealthy" and the "investment wealthy."

The working wealthy are the people in society that get paid highly because they have a high skill set and provide an extremely valuable service that they deserve just compensation for. This class is made up of professionals like lawyers, doctors, and CEOs. In addition, the working wealthy are characterized by another crucial aspect: over a long term calculation of their earned income over time, they don't come out as prosperous as their annual incomes would seem to suggest. This is because this set of the wealthy has to plunge into student debt for degrees that take years to acquire. These jobs generally also require a huge amount of time invested in lower-paying positions, apprenticeships, and internships before the big-money starts coming in.

On the other hand, the investment wealthy is completely different. These are the people that merely sit back and manipulate money without truly contributing to anything in society. A vast majority of this class is born into money and they use investments into stocks and bonds as well as tax loopholes to generate their money without actually contributing much to society as a whole.

What makes the investment wealthy so different from the working wealthy is their ability to use manipulative techniques to avoid paying taxes. While the working wealthy are rich, they do not have AS many resources or connections to manipulate tax laws the way that the investment wealthy can. The investment wealthy has access to overseas banking accounts to wash money though. The investment wealthy can afford lawyers to comb over tax laws and find loopholes for ridiculous prices. This is tax evasion that the working wealthy simply does not have access to.

That is why it is so incredibly important to make sure that we distinguish between the two when discussing tax policy. When we use blanket statements like "tax the rich," we forget the real reasons that the investment wealthy are able to pay such low taxes now. Imposing a larger marginal tax rate will only give them more incentive to move around taxes while squeezing the working wealthy even more.

Because of this, in our taxation discourse, we need to focus first on making sure people pay their taxes, to begin with. Things like a tax of Wall Street speculation, capital gains taxes, a closing of loopholes, and a simplification of the tax code. These things will have a marked improvement in making sure that the investment wealthy actually pays the taxes we already expect of them now. If we stick to the same message, the only thing we will be changing is the rate that the uber-wealthy are avoiding.

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