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Local Voices: Jim Crow (R)Evolves Into Mass Incarceration

The systemic racist White establishment was forced to upgrade its (c)overt desires to illegally oppress minorities when the Civil Rights movement and Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s came into being. The War of Drugs was created to replace segregation, enhance Whites’ chances, and lock away Blacks who were permanently branded as second class citizen- felons. These intentional designs (as features below) have effectively greatly reduced and prevented any chance any of advancement by Blacks.

A 2011 book “The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander bears a close reading to understand how the US prison industry has grown from 300,000 to 2 Million incarcerated people mostly of color. This article briefly details the crux of the book and is a simple summarization of the situation then and now.

W. E. B. DuBois is quoted as saying, “(T)he distinct impression left by Mr. (Booker T.) Washington’s propaganda is, first, that the South is justified in its present attitude toward the Negro because of the Negro’s degradation; second, that the prime cause of the Negro’s failure to rise depends primarily on his own efforts. Each of these propositions is a dangerous half-truth …

“(Washington’s) doctrine has tended to make the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the Negro shoulders and stand aside as critical and rather pessimistic spectators; when, in fact, the burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs.”

Consider the following twelve techniques that are used to put in place and maintain the said new Jim Crow restrictions:
1. Federally funded Police decide where and who to police using military style equipment.

2. District Attorneys decide which charges and the number of charges to bring against individuals as (only) they deem fit.

3. District Attorney/ Prosecutors decide all appeal offers and deals.

4. For –profit privatized prisons are built in rural white communities that depend on their remaining at capacity for local economic reasons.

5. Many Parole Officers are more interested in locking back up former inmates than genuinely working to help them stay out of prison.

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6. Judges, juries and sentencing guidelines routinely target and tar Blacks with crack cocaine’s much harsher sentences than alleged White drug users of powder cocaine.

7. The Supreme Court and State Courts have routinely turned a blind eye at every Court precedent setting decision, guaranteeing an unequal legal landscape. Since its inception Black Americans have been targeted because Whites are unwilling to challenge the entire system’s entrenched racism. This is the “Black eye” superimposed by the Courts onto Blacks daily. It is easier to say that the system is not racist than to admit it is, and have fix it. Colorblind in this case really means blind to justice, for people of color.

8. District Public Defenders regularly collude with District Attorneys in plea bargaining.

9. Because the system is afraid to objectively evaluate itself at every turn, the system says to all; we are beyond reproach, beyond question, beyond racism, colorblind, (when in reality, it is beyond reason.)

10. The various media regularly air and disseminate over–exaggerated reinforcements of stereotypical negative images of Blacks.

11. Getting the Black community to buy into the myths that they are locked into a place of externally imposed limitations, until Blacks feel they are limited to an illegal lifestyle.

12. Our nation insists the U.S. system of law is and always has been fair and is not racially motivated. Yet the preceding patterns clearly show White racism is the system of White choice and always has been. A system supposedly designed to have checks and balances fails miserably and leaves all of the previously mentioned opportunities to provide equally fair justice for people of color.

These twelve interwoven increments working in concert become the twelfths of the clock timer. They are independent and interdependent forming a prism prison cell system interlocking Blacks and justice’s light away to always do the hardest darkest time at every intake turn, and they are left unchecked and brokenly unbalanced.

This “house of cards” system was devised by White men for White men who saw Blacks as 3/5’s of a man. Through mass incarceration the nation’s judicial system knowingly, forever targets and blinds Blacks, stripping them of their vote, and effectively penalizing them further by under funding or eliminating after school programs, job training, and housing.

The system they have created is based on a profit motive. There can be no real thought of rehabilitation, redemption or compassion. It is just another form of slavery, turned Jim Crow, now dubbed “mass incarceration.”

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When books from the library are not returned or checked in, eventually that library will collapse. All knowledge has a shelf life. As Americans, we are all complicit in this national breakdown. When we knowingly throw away the library key and Black lives along with them, the prison one-way-in-door continues to (R)Evolve.

Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide the last eighteen years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available at and he does do large scale solutions presentations.

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