Saturday, February 26, 2011

Michelle Alexander on the New Jim Crow | National Radio Project

If you missed Michelle Alexander live, here is a great opportunity to hear her speak.

Michelle Alexander has struck a chord in so-called ‘post racial’ America. The Ohio State University law professor makes the case that the United States’ current criminal justice system policies can be traced directly back to slavery. Those targeted now, as they were then, are African Americans.

On this edition, Michelle Alexander talks about her book, ‘The New Jim Crow. Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness’.
Michelle Alexander on the New Jim Crow | National Radio Project

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Not a genuine black man"

This is an interesting story done on  Brian Copelands solo act titled "Not a genuine black man"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Incarceration Nation

Check out this inforgraphic from the Icelandic online magazine, Good, showing the rate of incarceration in the United States compared to other countries.

As the infographic states, we look like anything BUT the "Land of the Free."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

By Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow: How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste

*There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery.  The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.
*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life.  (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste -- not class, caste -- permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status.  They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.
See complete article at: 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sentencing study finds racial disparity

March 13, 2010 in Nation/World
Marisa Taylor McClatchy

WASHINGTON – Black and Latino men are more likely to receive longer prison sentences than their white counterparts since the Supreme Court loosened federal sentencing rules, a government study has concluded.

The study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission reignited a long-running debate about whether federal judges need to be held to mandatory guidelines in order to stamp out what might appear to be inherent biases and dramatically disparate sentences.

The report analyzed sentences meted out since the January 2005 U.S. v. Booker decision gave federal judges much more sentencing discretion.

For years, legal experts have argued over the disparity in sentencing between black and white men. The commission found that the difference peaked in 1999 with blacks receiving 14 percent longer sentences. By 2002, however, the commission found no statistical difference.

After the Booker decision, “those differences appear to have been increasing steadily,” with black men receiving sentences that were up to 10 percent longer than those imposed on whites, the commission said.

Using another method of analyzing the data, the study found black men received sentences that were 23 percent longer than white men’s.

Latino men, meanwhile, received sentences that were almost 7 percent longer than white men’s. Immigrants also got longer sentences than U.S. citizens did.

The report also found that defendants with some college education consistently have received shorter sentences than those with no college education, but the differences in sentence length remained about the same after the decision.

The commission warned that its report should be read with caution and may not mean that race or class is influencing judges when they hand down longer sentences.

“Judges make decisions when sentencing offenders based on many legal and other legitimate considerations that are not or cannot be measured,” said the commission, an independent body of the federal judiciary. “The analysis presented in this report cannot explain why the observed differences in sentence length exist but only that they do exist.”

For example, a judge who’s sentencing two offenders who were convicted of similar crimes might impose a longer sentence on the offender with a more violent criminal past, information that wasn’t available to the study’s authors.

Nonetheless, opponents of looser sentencing guidelines pounced on the commission’s study, saying it demonstrates that the rules are needed.

“People who commit similar crimes should receive similar sentences,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “Unfortunately, without sentencing guidelines for courts to follow, some individuals have received harsher penalties than others despite committing similar crimes.”

The report’s release late Thursday came as the House of Representatives and the Senate consider legislation that would reduce disparities in sentencing guidelines between powder cocaine and crack cocaine.

Defense advocates have argued for more than 20 years that the more severe sentences given for crack cocaine offenses, compared with those handed down for crimes that involve powder cocaine, were unfair to black defendants. A majority of crack cocaine defendants are black, while most powder cocaine defendants are white.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission recognized the disparity and recommended lighter penalties in crack cocaine cases, prompting judges to review the sentences of prisoners across the country.

View original text here:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Image of the Black Athlete: ESPN townhall meeting

This is an interesting series ESPN put together during Black History Month 2011. It was a unique perspective for myself to watch these videos, as I am a white male addicted to sports, and I did not think hard previously about media perceptions portrayed within the sports market. Take a look, what are your comments?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System - next meeting February 17th at Seattle University

Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System

The first meeting of the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System took place on November 4, 2010, at Seattle University School of Law.  The meeting was convened by the Honorable Steven C. Gonzalez, Chair of the Washington State Access to Justice Board and King County Superior Court judge, and by Robert S. Chang, Professor of Law and Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law.
Prompted by the remarks of two sitting justices on the Washington Supreme Court, the meeting was called to discuss racial bias in the criminal justice system in Washington state.  The meeting was attended by representatives from the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors, Washington State Access to Justice Board, the Washington State Commission on Gender and Justice, the Washington State Commission on Minority and Justice, the Loren Miller Bar Association, the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, Washington Women Lawyers, QLaw, the Asian Bar Association of Washington, the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Washington, the Korean American Bar Association, Filipino Lawyers of Washington, the Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington, the King County Prosecutor's Office, The Defender Association, faculty members from the three Washington law schools (Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington), and various community and advocacy organizations.
At the meeting, we articulated a set of goals and developed working groups to move the project forward.  The first phase involves developing informational resources on racial bias in the criminal justice system.  The second phase involves bringing into conversation all levels of the criminal justice system and to develop a set of recommendations to address racial bias at the systemic level.  The third phase involves working to implement the recommendations.  Throughout, we will develop educational projects to reach judges, the bar, law enforcement, students, and the public.
We have met two more times.  The Working Groups have convened and have begun their work.  Further information about the meetings can be found in Meeting Notes.  The next meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 17, 2011, from 7:30am-9:00am at Seattle University School of Law.  Please return to the below link for updates.

Harry's Law

We are starting to see glimmers of hope in mainstream media.  If you have not seen the pilot episode of Harry's Law, you can view a full episode here.  (There may be a better link out there, but we had trouble finding it.)

In this episode Harriet Korn, played by Kathy Bates, argues to keep Malcolm Davies (Aml Ameen) out of prison.  To keep Malcolm out of prison, get him treatment for his addiction to cocaine, and allow him to continue going to college, Harry uses many of the arguments we have presented here on our blog.

Although the series depends a little too heavily on stereotypes in its character development, it is refreshing to see arguments agains mass incarceration making their way into mainstream media.

Check it out and let us know your thoughts.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life In Prison: A Project Envision Documentary

This 30-minute documentary explores the cost of California’s "tough on crime" legislation. It gives you an inside look into three state prisons, including the California Medical Facility. CMF houses the oldest and sickest inmates in the state.

Upcoming Event Seattle - Thanks We4SocialJustUS


A dialogue on the intersection of race and the criminal justice system

February 15, 2011 | Noon to 1:30 pm
Bertha Landes Room, Seattle City Hall
Race and the Criminal Justice System
2011 Equity & Social Justice Lecture Series

Judge Patricia Clark, King County Superior Court
Gerald Hankerson, Community Activist, Board Member of NAACP
Robert Chang, Director, Fred T. Korematsu Center, Seattle University School of Law

The over-representation of people of color in the criminal justice system continues to persist despite years of attention. Fortunately, there are many people who work in the system who continue to look for new information and strategies to address this problem.

This forum is designed to bring people together to share what is known about race and its intersection with the criminal justice system. Our goal is to start the conversation and help participants understand the connection between race and a person’s involvement in the criminal justice system and identify ways they can make an impact with the work that they do.

Our panelists represent three unique voices that will stimulate the conversation:

Judge Patricia Clark has been a frontrunner in addressing issues concerning racial disparities in the justice system for many years. She challenges current practices and has led many efforts to transform the juvenile justice and child welfare system. Judge Clark will share examples of work that is currently being done to address today’s challenges as well as what we still need to do.

Gerald Hankerson will share his personal story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time which resulted in being accused of a crime he didn’t commit and spending 20 years of his life in prison. Noticing that most of his cellmates were African American like himself, most holding little hope for the future, Mr. Hankerson began organizing and becoming involved to disrupt what he saw as the cradle to prison pipeline.

Robert Chang is the Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center at the Seattle University Law School and oversees the Race & Criminal Justice Taskforce. Mr. Chang will describe what the taskforce is currently doing and what they hope to accomplish. He will also describe our current environment and open a discussion about race neutral policies and how policies and practices can impact racial disparities.

The state of reducing budgets, a dwindling public trust in government, and a lack of cohesiveness across departments erodes our ability to eliminate racial disparities and meet the public’s demand for safer communities. By working together, we are more likely to make a positive difference for everyone in our community. Please join us!

Educate. Inspire. Challenge.
This workshop was coordinated by the King County Dept. of Community & Human Services, Equity & Social Justice Committee and Public Health, Diversity & Social Justice Group
For more information, contact (206) 205-6703
All are welcome but space is limited.
Please RSVP by 02/14/11
(206) 205-6703

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nalini Nadkarni: Life science in prison

Interesting video from Nalini Nadkarni of TED about Life science in prison. Is there change available within you?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gang Injunctions: Target Violent Criminals, Not Vulnerable Youth

The following information is reprinted from a flyer distributed by the ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.  Get involved by going to the ACLU website and taking action.  This is the kind of legislation that disproportionately targets poor teens of color.

"Anti-gang" legislation being promoted by Attorney General Rob McKenna would make crime problems worse, targeting vulnerable youth for prison instead of giving them resources they need to stay out of gangs.  Instead of going after those committing violent crimes, the bill pushes expensive civil and criminal sanctions that could result in innocent people being arrested.  Even worse, youth sent to prison would meet and learn from real criminals. We can't afford this expensive distraction--we need a smarter approach to gangs.

We Know What Works to Tackle Gang Crime

Study after study across the nation shows what works to tackle gangs.  We need to arrest and charge kingpins--a relatively small number of individuals who are committing violent criminal acts.  But we can't arrest our way out of the problem--we also need to provide susceptible youth with alternatives to keep them out of gangs.

Injunctions Target and Jail the Wrong People

McKenna's legislation ignores these proven methods and targets vulnerable individuals who need help, not prison.  In addition to ratcheting up criminal penalties, it allows civil orders--known as injunctions--to be issued against people law enforcement thinks may be gang members.

McKenna is promoting these injunctions as a "kinder" alternative to criminal sanctions.  But they are just as bad, or worse--no attorney is provided to help teens defend themselves, the state need not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and factors such as who a teen hangs out with or how he dresses could land him on the list.  So innocent individuals will be swept into a broad net. And youth of color are impacted most heavily because the way they dress may fit gang stereotypes.

Jailing Vulnerable Youth Makes Crime Worse

Once an injunction is issued, a young person may be banned from being in an area and could be charged with a crime just for returning there--even if he had never committed any other crime.  But this approach only strengthens gangs by cutting off youth from the resources--like family members, jobs, sports, and school--they need to stay out of gang life.  And if they are arrested and charged with violating the injunction, they can be sent to adult prison, where they meet real criminals.  In fact, we will be using our precious public safety resources to send them to "gang school."

Injunctions Have Failed Elsewhere

California has tried the injunction approach for years, and it has failed.  There are no studies that show that injunctions reduce crime.  In fact, experts believe injunctions simply move crime to other areas.  Paying to shuffle crime around neighborhoods is a short-sighted approach that wastes money Washington doesn't have.

We Can't Afford this Bill

McKenna's "anti-gang" legislation uses methods that have failed repeatedly elsewhere. The bill makes crime worse--let's do what works instead.

Violent criminals should be arrested and jailed, and vulnerable youth should get resources to keep them out of gangs.  McKenna's bill does neither.  We can't afford this distraction--please vote against Rob McKenna's gang legislation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Murder Sentences Becoming “Too Flat and Too Severe,” Barrock Lecturer Says

"Punishment for murder in the United States increasingly resembles a reactor more than a radiator, Prof. Jonathan Simon at Boalt Hall, University of California-Berkeley School of Law, said in a lecture at Marquette University Law School Monday. And like a reactor, the trends in murder sentences are building up heat that presents increasing challenges...

But in more recent times, Simon said, the severity of sentences has increased, differentiation in sentences has been reduced, and more murderers are being given sentences such as life without parole. The difference in actual sentences between second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in California in recent years has been relatively slight, Simon said. And public sentiment that parole boards are letting out people who should still be in prison has made parole less frequent. Simon used the title of a best-seller by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to describe the state of murder punishment: “Hot, flat, and crowded.”
In his home state of California, he said, 10 percent of the state budget is spent on prisons. He said the number of inmates who will die of health problems as they age is rising and care for them is already becoming a major financial drain. He said many of them are in prison long after the point at which they are a threat to others. If they were out of prison, Medicare or Medicaid would pay for their care at a much lower cost than in prison, where the Medicare and Medicaid do not provide coverage, Simon said. While some states continue to debate whether sentences have become excessive, California is past that debate, he said.
Simon called sentences of life without parole “degrading.” He said wide use of such sentences creates nightmares for prison managers who must create “super-max” conditions to deal with inmates with little incentive to comply with rules."
Excerpts from:
January 25, 2011 | Posted by: Alan J. Borsuk
See more below:
Murder Sentences Becoming “Too Flat and Too Severe,” Barrock Lecturer Says

Friday, February 4, 2011

Prison Vs. College

This article was originally posted one March 11, 2009 at  These statistics are startling and still relavent 2 years later.
Prison Vs. College
Ilinios stats reflect a disaster for black men
 There were 41 black men enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007, according to the Black Star Project; 1.4 percent of the student body.
That same year, there were 1,183 black men imprisoned at the Illinois River Correctional Center; 60 percent of that prison's population.
And so it goes: 115 black men enrolled at Bradley University (1.9 percent); 1,093 imprisoned at the Danville Correctional Center (60 percent). 321 black men enrolled at Northwestern University (1.7 percent); 1,207 imprisoned at Western Illinois Correctional Center (60 percent).
"After 30 years of rising enrollments, the low number of black students applying to and enrolling in American colleges and universities is shocking," the Chicago-based Black Star Project says. "While this does not bode well for black students attending college today, it predicts an absolutely disastrous future in the next 10- to 20-years for the black community. Instead of more black doctors, lawyers, educators, accountants, business managers, technologists, social workers, and engineers, the black community will have more government dependent, unskilled and unemployed workers. This current educational meltdown will have a catastrophic effect on the black community."
The statistics were distributed on Tuesday via Raynard Hall's Bronzecomm e-mail newsletter, under the headline "In Illinois, More Black Men Are in Prison Than in College." 
Hall's introduction to the data: "With these statistics, who are young black women going to marry? Who is going to father children in the black community? Who is going to help the black community compete against the world? And who really cares?"
We all better care, especially in an economic environment that is likely to only make things worse.
"What a cruel hoax to believe that if a black man can become president, then black men do not have problems that America is obligated to address," Black Star executive director Phillip Jackson writes. "Yet Black America cannot trade one black man in the White House for the million-plus black men languishing in American jail houses and millions of black boys failing in American school houses."
[Note: Data from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Black Star: "Sixty percent of the Illinois prison population is comprised of black males. Because individual prisons do not disaggregate racial data, we have attributed 60 percent of each prison's population to black men."]

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Put prisons on the table - The Boston Globe

"Parole and probation are finally on the table; our massively misbegotten prison system has to be, too. No one really wants to talk about it — prison reform is political poison — but soon enough they will simply have to."

See more at the below link:

Put prisons on the table - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


January 8, 2009 
ByKevin EMcCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked for a discussion of recent developments regarding Washington's “three strikes” law.
Washington passed the first three strikes law in the United States in 1993The law initially mandated life imprisonment without parole for those convicted three separate times of a wide range of feloniesWashington has substantially amended its law twiceIn 1996, it mandated life imprisonment for people who commit certain crimes, such as first degree rape or sexually-motivated felonies, twiceThis session the legislature expanded the crimes that invoke the life imprisonment penalty to include any felony crime conviction in another state where there had been a finding of sexual motivation, if the minimum sentence imposed was 10 years or more.
Washington's Sentencing Guidelines Commission, the agency charged with evaluating sentencing policies and recommending modifications to the governor and legislature, has found that the most common “third strike” is Robbery 2 (second degree robbery)It recommended in 2001 that the legislature remove Robbery 2 and consider removing some forms of Assault 2 from the list of offenses triggering life imprisonmentThe legislature has not enacted the recommendation.
The law does not affect the governor's power to grant clemency, but until recently no offenders sentenced to life imprisonment under its provisions have had clemency hearings.In December 2008, the state's clemency board held its first hearing on a prisoner held under the three strikes lawThe prisoner, Stevan Dozier, had been convicted three times of second degree robberyKing County (Seattle) prosecutor Dan Satterburg argued for clemency at the hearingThe board recommended that Dozier's sentence be commuted and Governor Gregoire is currently reviewing the case.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have adopted three strikes legislation, including ConnecticutIn 2003, the USSupreme Court upheld California's three strikes law in Ewing vCalifornia538 US11 (2003), and Lockyer vAndrade538 US63 (2003)The Court held that the life sentences imposed under the law are not so grossly disproportionate to the criminal history of a career offender as to violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
In 1993, the voters of Washington approved Initiative 593, which found that nearly 50% of the criminals convicted in the state had prior criminal histories and which states:
Punishments for criminal offenses should be proportionate to both the seriousness of the crime and the prior criminal historyBy sentencing three-time most serious offenders to prison for life without the possibility of parole, the people intend to(a) Improve public safety by placing the most dangerous criminals in prison(b) Reduce the number of serious, repeat offenders by tougher sentencing(c) Set proper and simplified sentencing practices that both the victims and persistent offenders can understand(d) Restore public trust in our criminal justice system by directly involving the people in the process.
The initiative amended RevCodeWashSec994A030 to define a “persistent offender” as one who has been convicted in Washington of any felony considered a “most serious offense” and who had previously been convicted as an offender on at least two separate occasions, in Washington or elsewhere, of felonies that under Washington law would be considered a “most services offense” and would be included in the offender score under the statutory sentencing system (RevCode WashSec994A525)At least one of these convictions must have occurred
before the commission of any of the other most serious offenses for which the offender was previously convicted (in other words, the two prior convictions must occur on separate “trips” through the system).
The initiative defined “most serious offenses” to include all class A felonies (crimes such as murder, rape, first-degree assault, and first-degree child molesting), 17 other specific offenses, any other class B felony that the court found was sexually motivated, and any felony involving a deadly weapon.
The initiative created WashRevCode Sec994A570, which requires that a persistent offender be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release(Offenders convicted of aggravated murder in the first degree may be sentenced to death) In addition, persistent offenders are ineligible for community custody, earned release time, furlough, home detention, partial confinement, work crew, work release, any other form of release, or any other form of authorized leave from a correctional facility while not in the direct custody of a corrections officer or officersThe only exceptions are for emergency medical treatment or for commitment to an inpatient treatment facility in the case of an offender convicted of first degree rape.
The initiative specified that it did not reduce or eliminate the governor's power to grant a pardon or clemency to offenders on an individual case-by-case basisBut, it recommended that (1) any offender sentenced to life imprisonment not be considered for release until he or she has reached at least 60 years old and has been judged to be no longer a threat to society and (2) sex offenders be held to the utmost scrutiny regardless of ageThe initiative required the governor to provide twice yearly reports on the activities and progress of offenders who are released through executive action during his or her tenureThese reports must continue for at least 10 years after the offender's release, or until the released offender dies, whichever is earlier.
Amendments to the Law
In 1996, the legislature broadened the definition of persistent offender to include “two strike” sex offendersTo qualify as a persistent sex offender, an offender must have two separate convictions of specified sex offensesThe offenses qualifying as sexual strikes are listed in RevCode WashSec994A030 and include first and second degree rape as well as several additional crimes, such as assault or burglary, when there has been a finding that the crime was sexually motivated.
In the 2008 session, the legislature passed SB 6184, which expanded the crimes that invoked the life imprisonment penalty to include any felony crime conviction in another state where there had been a finding of sexual motivation, if the minimum sentence imposed was 10 years or moreThe bill, which had failed in the two previous sessions, passed the Senate unanimously and on a vote of 92-2 in the House.
Other Developments
In 2001, Washington's Sentencing Guidelines Commission recommended that the legislature remove Robbery 2 and consider removing some forms of Assault 2 from the list of offenses triggering life imprisonmentRobbery 2 (taking of something by threat or use of force) is the lowest-level crime to be labeled a strike, according to the commissionThe commission noted that the range of behaviors associated with Robbery 2 and some instances of Assault 2 do not rise to the level of “most serious” offensesIn the case of Robbery 2, the commission argued that these behaviors pose “little risk of physical injury
In 2004, the commission found that the number of sentences imposed under “two-strikes” provision was very small and appeared to be decliningThe commission found that during FY 03 three offenders were sentenced under “two-strikes” Ten sex offenders were sentenced to life in prison under the “two-strike” provision in FY 02 and nine sentences were entered in FY 01.
The commission's most recent report found that, as of March 2007, 292 individuals had been sentenced to life imprisonment under the three strikes provisionsOf these 401% were black and 573% were whiteThe most common third offense was Robbery 2 (233% of cases), followed by Robbery 1 (158%), and Assault 2 (82%).
Legislation was proposed in 2005, but not enacted, that would have allowed prisoners whose three “strike” convictions do not include any Class A felonies to ask for release after serving 15 years.
In a study of cases from 2003 through 2007, the King County Office of Public Defense found that 92% of defendants initially charged with a third strike offense ultimately received a sentence less severe than life without the possibility of parole.
In December 2008, the state's clemency board held its first hearing on a prisoner held under the three strikes lawThe prisoner, Stevan Dozier, had been convicted of second degree robbery (purse snatching) in 1994, following two similar convictions in 1986 and 1988King County (Seattle) prosecutor Dan Satterberg urged Dozier to submit a clemency petition after conducting a review of 20 early three strikes cases prosecuted by his officeAt the hearing, Satterberg stated that if Dozier's third-strike case came to his office today, he likely would not seek a life sentence because his crime is the lowest crime eligible for a three-strikes conviction in the stateSatterberg also argued that Dozier had reformed himself while in prisonThe board voted unanimously to recommend Dozier's sentence be commutedDozier's case is being reviewed by Governor Chris Gregoire.
Satterberg has also asked defense attorneys for more information about two other cases he has chosen as possible clemency candidatesPaul Rivers, whose third strike was stealing 340 from an espresso stand, and David Conyers, who was sentenced under the law at age 21 after being convicted for sticking up a series of convenience stores while pretending to have a gun in his pocket.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A need to address the continuing crisis for black families - by Walter Backstrom

Every day, my father, his brothers and sisters talk on the phone about family and other related issues. I once asked my uncle, "Why do you guys talk so much?" He uttered three words — family comes first. The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom of those words.

The latest report from the Council of the Great City Schools, titled "Call for Change" on the status of the black family, has just been released. Those figures, as usual, brought a lump in my throat and pain in my soul. I will not bore you with the same mind-numbing numbers that we already know.
Here are some other ones:

• "Today the number of children born into a black marriage averages less than 1 child per marriage. 'The birthrates of black married women have fallen so sharply that absent out-of-wedlock childbearing, the African American population would not only fail to reproduce itself, but would rapidly die off.' " "The Abolition of Marriage," by Maggie Gallagher, p. 120.

• "During the days of slavery a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents than he or she is today." Andrew J. Cherlin, "Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage," revised, p. 110.

• "As recently as 1960, three-quarters of African Americans were born into a family of a married couple." Christopher Jencks, "Is the American Underclass Growing," p. 86, Table 14.

• "Today only one-third of black children have two parents in the home." Family Structure, Child Trends Databank, based on 2010 census Ddata.

These numbers should grab the attention of anyone who cares about black children, especially those parents who selfishly have taken the easy way out and abandoned their children.

I was lucky. I was raised in a two-parent family. My father was very strict. My mother was very loving. I cannot imagine my life without both of them. They sheltered me from a world that was often hostile toward black children. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

The condition of the black family — and in particular, the black male — continues to be in a state of crisis. I know people will blame the usual suspects — white people, Republicans, the tea party, etc.
My questions are — where are the black churches, where are the wealthy blacks, where is our first black president? I will tell you where they are: MIA (missing in action).

They are unfocused and, to a large degree, uncaring. There is an old saying that goes like this: "No one will do for you what you need to do for yourself."

I will admit there are many people hard at work on helping the black family. However, we need much, much more. I am a small-government conservative. I am also a believer and because of that and the tragedy I see every day, government can and must help.

The "war on poverty" in the 1960s unfortunately also became a war on the black family. U.S. Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, a liberal icon from New York, warned against policies that splintered the black family. He was called a "racist" by the politically correct crowd, a word they still enjoy using.
The awful reality is that he was right and we have reaped what we have sown. We have been too busy watching TV, doing drugs, or whatever.

Heavens! These are our children! They look to us for love and guidance and we have told them "no."
According to syndicated columnist Bob Herbert, "This is not a fight only for blacks. All allies are welcome. But the cultural imperative lies overwhelmingly with the black community itself."

Walter Backstrom is a longtime South King County resident and active participant in the area's schools

Unshackle prison reform

Burgeoning incarceration costs unsustainable

“With Pennsylvania facing its greatest budget crisis since the Great Depression, we must look for sustainable savings in every nook and cranny of state government, and that includes the criminal-justice system, which is one of the three biggest drivers of increased spending over the past decade,” Wagner said.

More than 19,000 – or 39 percent – of the inmates in Pennsylvania’s prison population are considered nonviolent offenders. Keeping them behind bars makes no sense.

Here are some eye-opening facts that came out of Wagner’s press conference:

* The Department of Corrections’ general fund budget over the past 10 years has increased by $430 million.

* Pennsylvania’s prison population is five times higher now than it was 30 years ago, rising from 8,243 in 1980 to 51,487 in 2010.

* In 2009, Pennsylvania had the fastest-growing prison population in the nation, adding 2,122.

* The annual cost per inmate went from $11,447 in 1980 to $32,059 in 2009.

Wagner is urging state leaders to stop building new prisons (after completion of the four new facilities that have been authorized at a cost of $862 million), step up the use of electronic monitoring, prerelease centers and other alternatives for nonviolent criminals.

See full article at:

Unshackle prison reform