First thing that needs to be noted is that we just had another police shooting of an unarmed man in Austin, Texas on Thursday night.. This happened after the report was compiled, so add another name to this grisly toll..
Second, folks have got to understand this is not coincident, it’s quite deliberate. Police have moved from a point of trying to de-escalate or prevention to a shoot first ask questions later policy..
Michael Brown shooting: ‘They killed another young black man in America’
African American teenager’s killing by police puts Missouri city on edge after another night of protests
Michael Brown was on the right path, according to his family and friends. Studying did not come easily, but the 18-year-old worked hard at Normandy high school and graduated in May. Mike had been due to start classes atVatterott College last Monday. He was excited to enter the world of business.”This is a boy who did everything right,” said Cornell Brooks, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “who never got into a fight, who stayed in school.”
While some boys would get into edgy scrapes, Mike, a “gentle giant”, wasn’t interested, said Chris McMillan, a 20-year-old childhood friend who grew up playing PlayStation with Brown.
“He was a cool person,” said McMillan. “He was laidback and respectful. None of that nonsense. None of the crews and gangs. We’d just play games, chill, and ride around.”
The list below are just noting the deaths at hands of the police, its not highlighting the enormous amounts of brutality and outright disrespect many in the Black community have to endure on a daily basis.. The report below is to say the least disturbing and underscores a low wage war going on in our communities…
Twenty-eight Black People (27 Men and 1 Female) Killed by Police Officials, Security
Guards, and Self-Appointed “Keepers of the Peace” between January 1, 2012 and March
– 28 cases of state sanctioned or justified murder of Black people in the first 3
months of 2012 alone have been found (due to under reporting and discriminatory
methods of documentation, it is likely that there are more that our research has yet
– Of the 28 killed people, 18 were definitely unarmed. 2 probably had firearms, 8
were alleged to have non-lethal weapons.
– Of the 28 killed people,
. 11 were innocent of any illegal behavior or behavior that involved a
threat to anyone (although the shooters claimed they looked “suspicious”);
. 7 were emotionally disturbed and/or displaying strange behavior.
. The remaining 10 were either engaged in illegal or potentially illegal
activity, or there was too little info to determine circumstances of their
killing. It appears that in all but two of these cases, illegal and/or harmful
behavior could have been stopped without the use of lethal force.
This list of28 names was collected between 3/28/2012 and 3/30/2012 by reviewing google
search results to the question, “who have police killed in 2012”. Only the first 65 pages out of
712,000,000 were reviewed.
 News One.com reported Rodriguez was African America however other reports and family
photos indicate he was Latino.
 Many written reports do not explicitly identify the race of the victim. Most, however, do show
photographs. In the case of Warren, no photo was displayed.
Police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes extrajudicially killed at least 313 African-Americans in 2012, according to a recent study. This means a black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours. The report notes that it’s possible that the real number could be much higher.
The report, entitled “Operation Ghetto Storm,” was conducted by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an antiracist grassroots activist organization. The organization has chapters in Atlanta, Detroit, Fort Worth-Dallas, Jackson, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. It has a history of organizing campaigns against police brutality and state repression in black and brown communities. Their study’s sources included police and media reports along with other publicly available information. Last year, the organization published a similar study showing that a black person is killed by security forces every 36 hours. However, this study did not tell the whole story, as it only looked at shootings from January to June 2012. Their latest study is an update of this.
These killings come on top of other forms of oppression black people face. Mass incarceration of nonwhites is one of them. While African-Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation’s population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Even though African-Americans use or sell drugs about the same rate as whites, they are 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than whites. Black offenders also receive longer sentences compared to whites. Most offenders are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.
“Operation Ghetto Storm” explains why such killings occur so often. Current practices of institutional racism have roots in the enslavement of black Africans, whose labor was exploited to build the American capitalist economy, and the genocide of Native Americans. The report points out that in order to maintain the systems of racism, colonialism, and capitalist exploitation, the United States maintains a network of “repressive enforcement structures.” These structures include the police, FBI, Homeland Security, CIA, Secret Service, prisons, and private security companies, along with mass surveillance and mass incarceration.
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is not the only group challenging police violence against African-Americans. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has been challenging the policy of stop-and-frisk in New York City, in which police officers randomly stop and search individuals for weapons or contraband. African-American and Latino men are disproportionately stopped and harassed by police officers. Most of those stopped (close to 90%) are innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Stop Mass Incarceration alsoorganizes against the War on Drugs and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
Along with the rate of extrajudicial killings, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report contains other important findings. Of the 313 killed, 124 (40%) were between 22 and 31 years old, 57 (18%) were between 18 and 21 years old, 54 (17%) were between 32 and 41 years old, 32 (10%) were 42 to 51 years old, 25 (8%) were children younger than 18 years old, 18 (6%) were older than 52, and 3 (1%) were of unknown ages.
A significant portion of those killed, 68 people or 22%, suffered from mental health issues and/or were self-medicated. The study says that “[m]any of them might be alive today if community members trained and committed to humane crisis intervention and mental health treatment had been called, rather than the police.”
43% of the shootings occurred after an incident of racial profiling. This means police saw a person who looked or behaved “suspiciously” largely because of their skin color and attempted to detain the suspect before killing them. Other times, the shootings occurred during a criminal investigation (24%), after 9-1-1 calls from “emotionally disturbed loved ones” (19%) or because of domestic violence (7%), or innocent people were killed for no reason (7%).
Most of the people killed were not armed. According to the report, 136 people or 44%, had no weapon at all the time they were killed by police officers. Another 27% were deaths in which police claimed the suspect had a gun but there was no corroboration to prove this. In addition, 6 people (2%) were alleged to have possessed knives or similar tools. Those who did, in fact, possess guns or knives were 20% (62 people) and 7% (23 people) of the study, respectively.
The report digs into how police justify their shootings. Most police officers, security guards, or vigilantes who extrajudicially killed black people, about 47% (146 of 313), claimed they “felt threatened”, “feared for their life”, or “were forced to shoot to protect themselves or others”. George Zimmerman, the armed self-appointed neighborhood watchman who killed Trayvon Martin last year, claimed exactly this to justify shooting Martin. Other justifications include suspects fleeing (14%), allegedly driving cars toward officers, allegedly reaching for waistbands or lunging, or allegedly pointing a gun at an officer. Only 13% or 42 people fired a weapon “before or during the officer’s arrival”.
Police recruitment, training, policies, and overall racism within society conditions police (and many other people) to assume black people are violent to begin with. This leads to police overacting in situations involving African-American suspects. It also explains why so many police claimed the black suspect “looked suspicious” or “thought they had a gun.” Johannes Mehserle, the white BART police officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in January 2009, claimed Grant had a gun, even though Grant was subdued to the ground by other officers.
Of the 313 killings, the report found that 275 of them or 88% were cases of excessive force. Only 8% were not considered excessive as they involved cases were suspects shot at, wounded, or killed a police and/or others. Additionally, 4% were situations were the facts surrounding the killing were “unclear or sparsely reported”. The vast majority of the time, police officers, security guards, or armed vigilantes who extrajudicially kill black people escape accountability.
Over the past 70 years, the “repressive enforcement structures” described in the report have been used to “wage a grand strategy of ‘domestic’ pacification” to maintain the system through endless “containment campaigns” amounting to “perpetual war”. According to the report, this perpetual war has been called multiple names — the “Cold War”, COINTELPRO, the “War on Drugs, the “War on Gangs”, the “War on Crime”, and now the “War on Terrorism”. This pacification strategy is designed to subjugate oppressed populations and stifle political resistance. In other words, they are wars against domestic marginalized groups. “Extrajudicial killings”, says the report, “are clearly an indispensable tool in the United States government’s pacification pursuits.” It attributes the preponderance of these killings to institutionalized racism and policies within police departments.
Paramilitary police units, known as SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, developed in order to quell black riots in major cities, such as Los Angeles and Detroit, during the 1960s and ’70s. SWAT teams had major shootouts with militant black and left-wing groups, such as the Black Panther Party and Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1969 and 1974, respectively. SWAT teams were only used for high-risk situations, until the War on Drugs began in the 1980s. Now they’re used in raids — a common military tactic — of suspected drugor non-drug offenders’ homes.
The War on Drugs, first declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, was largely a product of U.S. covert operations. Anti-communist counter-revolutionaries, known as the “Contras”, were trained, funded, and largely created by the CIA to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua during the 1980s. However, the CIA’s funding was not enough. Desperate for money, the Contras needed other funding sources to fight their war against the Sandinistas. The additional dollars came from the drug trade. The late investigative journalist Gary Webb, in 1996, wrote a lengthy series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News, entitled “Dark Alliance,” detailing how the Contras smuggled cocaine from South America to California’s inner cities and used the profits to fund their fight against the Sandinista government. The CIA knew about this but turned a blind eye. The report received a lot of controversy, criticism, and tarnishing of Webb’s journalistic career, which would lead him to commit suicide in 2004. However, subsequent reports from Congressional hearings and other journalistscorroborated Webb’s findings.
“Martin Luther King did not live and die that we might steal and lie in the name of justice in the middle of the night,” “He lived and died that we might seek justice in the middle of the day.”
18-year-old Michael Brown lost his life after an alleged altercation with police in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday.
On Saturday a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager on his way to college this week. Brown was shot multiple times, though his hands were in the air. His uncovered body was left in the street for hours, as a crowd from his neighborhood gathered to stand vigil. Then they marched down to the police station. On Sunday evening, some folks in the crowd looted a couple of stores and threw bottles at the police. Monday morning was marked by peaceful protests.
The people of Ferguson are angry. Outraged. The officer’s story is dubious. Any black kid with sense knows it is futile to reach into an officer’s vehicle and take his gun. That story is only plausible to people who believe that black people are animals, that black men go looking for cops to pick fights with.
It seems far easier to focus on the few looters who have reacted unproductively to this tragedy than to focus on the killing of Michael Brown. Perhaps looting seems like a thing we can control. I refuse. I refuse to condemn the folks engaged in these acts, because I respect black rage. I respect black people’s right to cry out, shout and be mad as hell that another one of our kids is dead at the hands of the police. Moreover I refuse the lie that the opportunism of a few in any way justifies or excuses the murderous opportunism undertaken by this as yet anonymous officer.
The police mantra is “to serve and to protect.” But with black folks, we know that’s not the mantra. The mantra for many, many officers when dealing with black people is apparently “kill or be killed.”
It is that deep irrational fear of young black men that continues to sit with me. Here’s the thing: I do not believe that most white people see black people and say, “I hate black people.” Racism is not that tangible, that explicit. I do not believe most white people hate most black people. I do not believe that most police officers seek to do harm or consciously hate black people. At least I hope they don’t.
I believe that racism exists in the inexplicable sense of fear, unsafety and gnawing anxiety that white people, be they officers with guns or just general folks moving about their lives, have when they encounter black people. I believe racism exists in that sense of mistrust, the extra precautions white people take when they encounter black people. I believe all these emotions have emerged from a lifetime of media consumption subtly communicating that black people are criminal, a lifetime of seeing most people in power look just like you, a lifetime of being the majority population. And I believe this subconscious sense of having lost control (of the universe) exists for white people, at a heightened level since the election of Barack Obama and the continued explosion of the non-white population.
The irony is that black people understand this heightened anxiety. We feel it, too. We study white people. We are taught this as a tool of survival. We know when there is unrest in the souls of white folks. We know that unrest, if not assuaged quickly, will lead to black death. Our suspicions, unlike those of white people, are proven right time and time again.
I speak to this deep psychology of race, not because I am trying to engage in pop psychology but because we live in a country that is so deeply emotionally dishonest about both race and racism. When will we be honest enough to acknowledge that the police have more power than the ordinary citizen? They are supposed to. And with more power comes more responsibility.
We are talking about justifiable outrage. Outrage over the unjust taking of the lives of people who look like us. How dare people preach and condescend to these people and tell them not to loot, not to riot? Yes, those are destructive forms of anger, but frankly I would rather these people take their anger out on property and products rather than on other people.
No, I don’t support looting. But I question a society that always sees the product of the provocation and never the provocation itself. I question a society that values property over black life. But I know that our particular system of law was conceived on the founding premise that black lives are white property. “Possession,” the old adage goes, “is nine-tenths of the law.”
But we are the dispossessed. We cannot count on the law to protect us. We cannot count on police not to shoot us down in cold blood. We cannot count on politics to be a productive outlet for our rage. We cannot count on prayer to soothe our raging, ragged souls.
This is what I mean when I say that we live in a society that is deeply emotionally dishonest about racism. We hear a story each and every week now about how some overzealous officer has killed another black man, or punched or beaten or chocked a black woman. This week we heard two stories – Mike Brown in Missouri and John Crawford of Ohio. These are not isolated incidents. How many cops in how many cities have to murder how many black men — assault how many black women — before we recognize that this behavior is not isolated? It is systemic from the top to the bottom.
The answer isn’t looting, no. The answer isn’t rioting, no. But the answer also isn’t preaching to black people about “black-on-black” crime without full acknowledgment that most crime is interracial. The answer is not having a higher standard for the people than for the police. The answer is not demanding that black people get mad about and solve the problem of crime in Chicago before we get mad about the slaughter of a teen boy just outside St. Louis.
We can be, and have been, and are mad about both. Violence is the effect, not the cause of the concentrated poverty that locks that many poor people up together with no conceivable way out and no productive way to channel their rage at having an existence that is adjacent to the American dream. This kind of social mendacity about the way that racism traumatizes black people individually and collectively is a festering sore, an undiagnosed cancer, a raging infection threatening to overtake every organ in our body politic.
We are tired of these people preaching a one-sided gospel of peace. “Turn the other cheek” now means “here are our collective asses to kiss.” We are tired of forgiving people because they most assuredly do know what they do.
Mike Brown is dead. He is dead for no reason. He is dead because a police officer saw a 6-foot-4, 300-plus-pound black kid, and miscalculated the level of threat. To be black in this country is to be subject to routine forms of miscalculated risk each and every day. Black people have every right to be angry as hell about being mistaken for predators when really we are prey. The idea that we would show no rage as we accrete body upon body – Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown (and those are just our summer season casualties) — is the height of delusion. It betrays a stunning lack of empathy, a stunning refusal of people to grant the fact of black humanity, and in granting our humanity, granting us the right to the full range of emotions that come with being human. Rage must be expressed. If not it will tear you up from the inside out or make you tear other people up. Usually the targets are those in closest proximity. The disproportionate amount of heart disease, cancers, hypertension, obesity, violence and other maladies that plague black people is as much a product of internalized, unrecognized, unaddressed rage as it is anything else.
Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in over-policing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us. They are a compass pointing us to a raging fire just beneath the surface of our national consciousness. We feel it. We hear it. Our nostrils flare with the smell of it.
James Baldwin called it “the fire next time.” A fire shut up in our bones. A sentient knowledge, a kind of black epistemology, honed for just such a time as this. And with this knowledge, a clarity that says if “we live by the sword, we will die by it.”
Then, black rage emerges prophetic from across the decades in the words of Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay who penned these words 95 years ago in response to the Red Summer 1919.
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
I offer no answers. I offer only grief and rage and hope.
Knowledge is a subject with many interesting characteristics. For instance, it is handed down from one generation to the next and in this way can survive for thousands of years. This handing on can happen in many different ways, be it a father telling his son, folk songs narrating stories, written on scrolls or a certain sequence of zeros and ones on a computer drive.
But knowledge not only duplicates but it multiplies. Marie Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach, a German author who lived around the turn of the twentieth century, inspired an meaningful quote which goes as follows: “Knowledge is the only good that multiplies when you share it.”
And one of mankind’s greatest characteristics is its pursuit of sharing knowledge. One very recent account of this will of human beings to share and spread it with as many as possible is the emergence of Internet. So knowledge of things, ideas and workings has always been of importance and was sought after very much. This made it important to also think about the concept of knowledge itself. Over millennia people have tried to figure out the nature of knowledge and find an appropriate definition for it, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates being one of them. Before him and after his time many others thought about the topic as well, following on his ideas or coming up with completely different understandings of the concept of knowledge. But much as this was discussed in earlier times, it is of just as much importance today.
The knowledge I have acquired from being ignorant of the consequences the devices I used to get into prison offered me is the very knowledge I desire to use to empower a targeted group of people called ( Ex-Offenders). Society is suffering as a whole from this disingenuous correctional business. I say business because it offers no corrections, just incarceration. In my stays within the correctional systems I never was offered rehabilitation. May 25th 2010 I found happiness through receiving my vision of “Second Chance Alliance”. I am asking my fellow citizens to think hard about donating to my wife and I cause because we really believe it will make a difference in our communities we are apart of. Socrates cajoling his fellow citizens to think hard about questions of truth and justice, convinced as he was that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” While claiming that his wisdom consisted merely in “knowing that he knew nothing,” Socrates did have certain beliefs, chief among them that happiness is obtainable by human effort. Specifically, he recommended gaining rational control over your desires and harmonizing the different parts of your soul. Doing so would produce a divine-like state of inner tranquility that the external would could not effect. True to his word, he cheerfully faced his own death, discussing philosophy right up to the moments before he took the lethal hemlock. Through his influence on Plato and Aristotle, a new era of philosophy was inaugurated and the course of western civilization was decisively shaped.
Socrates has a unique place in the history of happiness, as he is the first known figure in the West to argue that happiness is actually obtainable through human effort. He was born in Athens, Greece in 460 BC; like most ancient peoples, the Greeks had a rather pessimistic view of human existence. Happiness was deemed a rare occurrence and reserved only for those whom the gods favored. The idea that one could obtain happiness for oneself was considered hubris, a kind of overreaching pride, and was to be met with harsh punishment.
Against this bleak backdrop the optimistic Socrates enters the picture. The key to happiness, he argues, is to turn attention away from the body and towards the soul. By harmonizing our desires we can learn to pacify the mind and achieve a divine-like state of tranquility. A moral life is to be preferred to an immoral one, primarily because it leads to a happier life. We see right here at the beginning of western philosophy that happiness is at the forefront, linked to other concepts such as virtue, justice, and the ultimate meaning of human existence.
The price Socrates paid for his honest search for truth was death: he was convicted of “corrupting the youth” and sentenced to die by way of Hemlock poisoning. But here we see the life of Socrates testifies to the truth of his teachings. Instead of bemoaning his fate or blaming the gods, Socrates faces his death with equanimity, even cheerfully discussing philosophy with his friends in the moments before he takes the lethal cup. As someone who trusted in the eternal value of the soul, he was unafraid to meet death, for he believed it was the ultimate release of the soul from the limitations of the body. In contrast to the prevailing Greek belief that death is being condemned to Hades, a place of punishment or wandering aimless ghost-like existence, Socrates looks forward to a place where he can continue his questionings and gain more knowledge. As long as there is a mind that earnestly seeks to explore and understand the world, there will be opportunities to expand one’s consciousness and achieve an increasingly happier mental state.
The costs of incarceration stretch far beyond prison walls, meals, and guards:
The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.
It costs over $26,000 to incarcerate one federal prisoner for one year — more than the average cost of one year of college education.
American taxpayers spend over $60 billion each year on prisons.
Half of all federal prisoners and one in five state prisoners are there for a drug offense — and it’s usually a nonviolent one.
Men who have served time in prison earn 40% less each year than men who have not been in prison.
One in every 28 children under age 18 has a parent in prison.
Long mandatory sentences have led to overcrowded, unsafe prisons
that are less cost-effective than alternatives like treatment and drug courts.
When Raynard Reaves left the North Carolina prison system last year after 32 years behind bars, he left with a bus ticket and the clothes on his back. But he also had something less tangible, something unavailable to most of North Carolina’s prison population: A support system provided by Winston-Salem’s Project Re-entry.
Now he’s a success story, a family man and productive employee with 15 unblemished months of freedom.
The man he is today is a far cry from the 19-year-old heroin addict who committed armed robbery and landed in Raleigh’s Central Prison, a maximum-security institution notorious for its tough inmate population.
Reaves said he credits Project Re entry for much of his success on the outside. The program starts inside prison with a 12-week curriculum of life skills classes. Once they’ve been released, ex-prisoners who’ve successfully completed the 12-week pre-release program are eligible to receive services and employment on the outside. It’s the only pre- to post release re-entry program in North Carolina and serves nine facilities including the Forsyth and Guilford correctional centers.
“I think they should make it mandatory for everyone who is in prison to go through the re-entry program,” Reaves said. Rebecca Sauter, director of Project Re-entry, measures the program’s accomplishments by employment statistics. Every program graduate who goes on to take and keep a full time job and doesn’t re-offend is considered a success. Now the city of Winston-Salem is considering contributing to that success by actively committing to employ graduates of the program, which started in the Forsyth Correctional Center in 1999. City Councilwoman Vivian Burke, who represents the city’s Northeast Ward, said Winston-Salem should be an example for area businesses by implementing an employment program for ex-offenders. Right now, the city doesn’t have a policy either barring or encouraging the employment of ex-offenders. A proposal working its way through committee would encourage departments to hire ex-felons who have successfully completed programs like Project Re-entry.
Click the link below to view our proposed model for Riverside County and donate one dollar or as your heart leads. Thanks for your time in viewing our content and dreams.
The aim of 100 Black Men of USC is to build strong, focused, positive role models who are held in high esteem on USC’s campus and the surrounding community.
Liquor stores on every corner, communities infested with drugs and saturated with weapons. Oppression due to broken homes and the marginalization of the black man. Space exploration is more important than reformation and reparation of Black America. Every race that has ever been wronged in America has been compensated even the Jews in Germany are getting compensated for the acts of a few. After going into the military to escape Washington D.C. and it’s disparity I begin to see clearer how this problem for black men was to unfold. These guns and drugs were to help us start the process of killing ourselves. I watched black men die in Beirut, Libya and Desert Shield, we have served in every war for this nation only to return home to a war on ourselves. I really am determined to make a difference in the second half of my life to empower and exude positive biblical living to help whoever I see needs the help to get free from the society I now know means to kill steal and destroy human being with the influx of mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of a endangered species ( Black America).
Your Kingship was God’s original intent – and He hasn’t changed His mind. From the moment Adam lost his kingship and was expelled from the Garden of Eden God has been working all things after the counsel of His will – to restore YOU and this world and everything in it back to Himself.
Luke records God’s plan in Acts 3:19-21: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Who the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.
— Deuteronomy 15: 12–15
Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there iscommonly injury done to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation.
— John Locke, “Second Treatise”
By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over and over, and now we are determined to have it.
— Anonymous, 1861
Restoration is the act of restoring to the rightful owner something that has been taken away, lost or stolen. The word “restitution” in this Scripture comes from the Greek word apokatastasis, meaning “to return this Earth back to its perfect state before the fall.” God has been working to restore the Earth to its perfect state and to restore man’s kingship for thousands of years.
Kingship was God’s original intent
In the beginning, we know that God created Adam in His own image, in His likeness and with His nature (Genesis 1:26). The Word says that “God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed life (not air) into his nostrils and man became a living soul with purpose – to fellowship with God and have dominion over this Earth (Genesis 2:7; 1:26).
In the original creation Adam was perfect. He lived out of his spirit. He communed with God out of his spirit. He was connected to God through his spirit. He named the animals from his spirit. He tended the garden from his spirit. He exercised his kingship, or dominion, over the Earth from his spirit.
Scripture tells us that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. He also gave Adam a command: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2). Of course, Adam did not immediately die when he ate of the fruit. He lived to be 930 years old. God was talking about a spiritual death.
Some time after this we read the testimony of Eve’s deception by the serpent. That old serpent told Eve that the reason God didn’t want her to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was because her eyes would be opened and she would be like God (Genesis 3:5). The reality was that Adam and Eve were already like God. They were created with the very nature of God, in the image of God, blessed by God, and given dominion over the Earth by God.
We all know the sad conclusion, Eve partook and Adam did, too. Sin entered the Earth and Adam’s spirit died because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Adam’s disobedience caused a communal disconnect between his spirit and the Spirit of God. Adam and Eve began to live out of their souls instead of their spirits. (Your soul is your mind, will, intellect, reasoning, imaginations and emotions.) They were led by their five senses – touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste – instead of their spirits. Before the fall they simply knew what they needed to know. They could draw any knowledge they needed directly from God’s Spirit. Their fall was the genesis of soulish education.
Which brings me back to this:
“A heavy account lies against us as a civil society for oppressions committed against people who did not injure us,” wrote the Quaker John Woolman in 1769, “and that if the particular case of many individuals were fairly stated, it would appear that there was considerable due to them.”
As the historian Roy E. Finkenbine has documented, at the dawn of this country, black reparations were actively considered and often effected. Quakers in New York, New England, and Baltimore went so far as to make “membership contingent upon compensating one’s former slaves.” In 1782, the Quaker Robert Pleasants emancipated his 78 slaves, granted them 350 acres, and later built a school on their property and provided for their education. “The doing of this justice to the injured Africans,” wrote Pleasants, “would be an acceptable offering to him who ‘Rules in the kingdom of men.’ ”
Edward Coles, a protégé of Thomas Jefferson who became a slaveholder through inheritance, took many of his slaves north and granted them a plot of land in Illinois. John Randolph, a cousin of Jefferson’s, willed that all his slaves be emancipated upon his death, and that all those older than 40 be given 10 acres of land. “I give and bequeath to all my slaves their freedom,” Randolph wrote, “heartily regretting that I have been the owner of one.”
In his book Forever Free, Eric Foner recounts the story of a disgruntled planter reprimanding a freedman loafing on the job:
Planter: “You lazy nigger, I am losing a whole day’s labor by you.”
Freedman: “Massa, how many days’ labor have I lost by you?”
In the 20th century, the cause of reparations was taken up by a diverse cast that included the Confederate veteran Walter R. Vaughan, who believed that reparations would be a stimulus for the South; the black activist Callie House; black-nationalist leaders like “Queen Mother” Audley Moore; and the civil-rights activist James Forman. The movement coalesced in 1987 under an umbrella organization called the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA). The NAACP endorsed reparations in 1993. Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a professor at Harvard Law School, has pursued reparations claims in court.
But while the people advocating reparations have changed over time, the response from the country has remained virtually the same. “They have been taught to labor,” the Chicago Tribune editorialized in 1891. “They have been taught Christian civilization, and to speak the noble English language instead of some African gibberish. The account is square with the ex‑slaves.”
Not exactly. Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and under educated.Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. Now we have half-stepped away from our long centuries of despoilment, promising, “Never again.” But still we are haunted. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.
As I sit before my computer to write this post I am thankful to God for His sense of humor. I was very down-trodden today from the 3 o clock twilight hours up until the time I forced myself to delve into His presence and find some type of solace and joy. My downward spiral was due to the burden of the vision of getting Second Chance Alliance off the ground. I keep on asking my God why would “You” place such a task on a man of my substance and mental challenges? I received my release today by way of searching His scriptures.
“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”—Proverbs 14:10
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”—Proverbs 17:22
I remember one day resolving to do arduous work in 2 Chronicles. Studiously plowing through the reigns of Solomon through Jehoshaphat, I came to 2 Chronicles 21:20 and laughed outright. The text reads, “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings” (italics added). Being a wordsmith myself, I smiled at this bygone scribe relieved at this monarch’s death. Evidently Jehoram was not well liked. The editorial statement provides a light touch—comic relief, if you will—to the Chronicler’s usually routine kingship formula.
As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.
Let’s start with an umbrella verse, Ecclesiastes 3:4: “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” The Biblical text, always practical, acknowledges human emotions and makes boundaries for their proper use.
God’s Laughter in the Hebrew Bible
Let’s look at God’s laughter. After all, he’s the creator.
Consider Psalm 37:12-13: “The wicked plot against the righteous, and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that their day is coming.” Laughter here shows the impotence of the wicked and the futility of their plots and gnashings against the righteous. Why? Because, as the psalm answers, those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land and the Lord knows the wicked face a reckoning.
God directs the same kind of laughter toward earthly hotshots who think their power exceeds his. Psalm 2:2, 4 declares that when “the kings of the earth take their stand,” marshalling themselves “against the Lord … and against his Anointed One,” then “the One enthroned in heaven laughs.”
But Zephaniah 3:17 illustrates joy, a different aspect of God’s laughter and character, one more consistently expressed throughout the Biblical text: “He will take great delight in you … he will rejoice over you with singing.” My colleagues often are amazed that the idea of rejoicing carries with it the idea of physical activity. The verse presents this possibility: God’s delight can entail joyful songs and public dancing.
Who Is Responsible?
One story that makes me laugh is the conversation taking place somewhere on Mt. Sinai between God and Moses. The recently-released Hebrew slaves are sinning by worshipping a calf made of gold and declaring that it, not the Lord, led them out of Egypt (Exodus 32:4-6). Neither God nor Moses wants these rowdies at this moment. Like a hot potato, responsibility for the former slaves passes back and forth between them.
The Lord swaps first, telling Moses the reveling Israelites are “your people” (v. 7) (italics added). But Moses quickly catches on. He declines association with them. As far as Moses is concerned, these people are not his! Morphing into intercession mode and speaking in what no doubt is a respectful tone, Moses rejoins, “O, Lord, why should your anger burn against your people, whomyou brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?” (v. 11) (italics added). He reminds the Lord of his promise to his servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel to make their descendants “as numerous as the stars in the sky” (v. 13). This scene’s humor softens the chapter, which ends sorrowfully. The Israelites’ sin leads quickly to the deaths of many by plague, and thus the chapter ends (Exodus 32:35). The chapter’s structure incorporates dialogue, rebellion, crisis, and punishment.
Biblical Humor Through Innuendo
Consider Genesis 18:10-15, wherein God informs Abraham and Sarah they will have a son by “this time next year” (v. 10). Sarah openly laughs, thinking she is worn out and now will have sexual pleasure again (v. 11). After all, she is about 89! We learn later that Abraham, probably about 99, also thought along sexual lines. He believed God could give him and Sarah descendants and make them parents even though he—as a man—was “as good as dead” (Hebrews 11:11-12). The idea of fathering a child at his age struck him as funny.
Humorous Books in the Hebrew Bible
Whole books in the Hebrew Bible have strong elements of humor. An ongoing humorous element in the Book of Esther is the number of banquets it mentions. There number at least 10, thereby forming the book’s structure and carrying much of its action. One wonders: Do these rulers do anything except dine and wine and plot and whine?
We are meant to laugh and learn throughout the Book of Jonah. Yes, we can laugh at Jonah’s open disobedience of going west to Tarshish when God commands him to go northeast to Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-3); at Jonah’s “time out” to think about things in the belly of the great fish (1:17a); at his pouting, obstinate silence for three days while being digested (1:17b); at his being vomited by the great fish on dry land—somewhere probably in the Mediterranean world (2:10); at his terse, seven-word sermon to Nineveh (3:4); at his anger over the success of this sermon, the repentance of the entire city (4:1). But the laughter is sometimes tinged with sadness, for Jonah’s anger prevails and he never understands God’s compassion for those who do not know him and for their cattle (4:11). Indeed everything in the Book of Jonah—the sailors, sea, big fish, gourd vine, hot wind and the Ninevites—obeys God. Everything and everybody except one: Jonah. God shows his colors of compassion and mercy—and Jonah disdains them.
Humor in the New Testament
The New Testament, similarly, abounds with laughter. Jesus must have been a compelling personality to keep the attention of crowds for days and the steadfast loyalty of at least twelve disciples for three years. In addition to being a riveting teacher whose words brought life, he was likely the kind of personality that was just fun to be around.
For example, a crowd numbering about 5,000 men followed him to a solitary place (Mark 6:30-44). Jesus’ teaching evidently made people forget to eat, bring food or worry about work.
In his classic work The Humor of Christ, Elton Trueblood lists thirty humorous passages in the Synopic Gospels. In one way or another, they’re all one liners, parables or stories Jesus told. Trueblood thinks Jesus’ audience would have laughed at the image of those who loudly proclaim their righteous actions to others (Matt. 6:2) because it was all too prevalent. An audience would have found the idea of rulers calling themselves benefactors ludicrous (Luke 22:25)—because the working folks knew all too well it wasn’t so. No doubt the audience chuckled when Jesus commended the vociferous, obstreperous widow for her persistent pestering of the unjust judge and cited her as a successful model of prayer (Luke 18:1-8).
Paul employs humor in his letter to the new church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). He addresses several problems reported to him. The problems—pride, exclusivity and attitudes of “I don’t need or want you”—could destroy the new church, for they counter the love Jesus taughtInstead of singling out by name troublemakers in Corinth, he allegorizes the situation in a humorous, non-threatening, open way: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you’” (v. 12:21). Paul affirms the need of all parts, and their need to function in unity, in the Body of Christ.
In the home of Jairus, a synagogue ruler, Jesus uses practical knowledge to break a tense situation. Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter just died. Jesus, three of his disciples and the child’s parents fill the room (Mark 5:40). Jesus goes to the body, picks up the girl’s hand, says to her, “Talitha koum!” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (v. 41). The girl immediately gets up and walks around the room (v. 42a). Mark records the reaction of those in the room as “completely astonished” (v. 42b); in other words, they’re probably stunned and silent. Jesus responds with something practical: He tells them to give her something to eat (v. 43). A natural human reaction—when grief is turned to unexpected joy as when a dead girl is brought back to life—is something loud like laughter or shouting. Here, Jesus cracks a joke by reminding everybody that a girl who has been sick, experienced death, and is now alive is hungry! Of course she needs to eat! All twelve year-olds have ravenous appetites! This practical, timely and kind statement from Jesus breaks all the tension, pent-up grief and amazement present in the room among the girl’s parents and Jesus’ three disciples. I read this scene as Jesus’ cracking a joke. And the proper appreciation of a joke is laughter.
Thanks for letting me feel good by way of sharing this study with you. In your contemplation after reading this post please pray for our cause and our strength to see it become a reality. Click the insignia to view.
Larry Smith jail in Banning from Highway 243 in Banning on April 23, 2013. Over the next five years, virtually every cent of new revenue flowing into Riverside County coffers will go to building and staffing jails and boosting deputy patrols in unincorporated areas.
Adding jail beds and boosting deputy patrols in Riverside County could eat up projected gains in revenue over the next few years, leaving little or nothing to restore code enforcement, animal control and other departments hit hard by the economic downturn.
Jail expansions could potentially max out the county’s self-imposed limit on debt payments by 2020, according to a recent analysis. Even then, the county likely can’t erase its jail bed shortage without going well beyond the limit.
The Board of Supervisors last month held a workshop on budget-related matters, including a five-year spending plan for jails and a plan to hire more deputies for unincorporated areas. The board voted to hire a consultant to further assess the jail crunch, and supervisors want a closer look at non-jail options, such as road crews and fire camps for low-level offenders.
After losing $215 million in tax revenue since 2007, county finances are starting to modestly perk up, and property tax revenue is expected to grow as the real estate market rebounds. But as more money comes in, the county faces massive new spending obligations, jails being the largest.
Jail crowding has been a problem for years. Since 2000, the county’s population grew 45 percent while the number of jail beds grew just 31 percent, according to a county staff report. A long-standing federal court order requires the county to release inmates early when there aren’t enough beds.
Under court pressure to shrink California’s prison population and relieve crowding, state lawmakers in 2011 passed public safety realignment, which shifted to counties the responsibility for inmates convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and non-high risk sexual offenses. Those offenders are now sent to jails instead of state prison.
The county’s five jails, which have 3,906 beds, filled up in January 2012. Almost 7,000 inmates got early releases in 2012, and the number is expected to exceed 9,000 by the end of this year. Roughly 18 percent of jail inmates – 693 – were there due to realignment as of Aug. 31, county staff said.
“Because of what the state has done, we will need to distort what would otherwise be our county priorities in order to do what must be done, which is to build jails to house people that used to be in prison,” county Chief Financial Officer Ed Corser told supervisors during the Sept. 23 workshop.
To curtail early releases, the county plans to add more than 1,200 beds to the 353-bed Indio jail by 2017. The $267 million project – a state grant covers $100 million – doesn’t include the cost of moving county offices to accommodate the expansion.
The county is applying for another $80 million in state funding to add as many as 582 beds to the 1,520-bed Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. Officials see potential there for a total of 1,600 additional beds.
Grants don’t cover the cost of running bigger jails. The new Indio jail, called the East County Detention Center, will require 406 sheriff’s personnel to be hired at a cost of $37.9 million annually by 2017, according to Corser’s figures.
In all, supervisors have committed to $97.5 million in new, annual public safety expenses by 2017, Corser’s numbers show. He expects revenue growth to cover the new costs.
But the $97.5 million doesn’t include higher labor costs that could come when the sheriffs’ union contract expires in 2016.
And it doesn’t address potential new funding requests from the district attorney’s office, the public defender, the Fire Department and probation. The county also is trying to boost its rainy day fund from $140 million, an amount described by one bond rating agency as “barely satisfactory,” Corser said.
Altogether, those additional requests could add up to $118 million by 2017, Corser said. Of that, $91.3 million would have to be found somewhere.
Prop. 172 passed in 1993 created a special public safety sales tax. But Corser said any growth in Prop. 172 revenue should go to the Indio expansion.
The Sheriff’s Department estimates the county needs 4,000 new jail beds now and 10,000 by 2028. Adding to Indio and Larry Smith would still leave the county short of that long-term goal.
Plans for a “hub jail” outside Palm Springs – 2,000 beds in phase one, 7,200 at buildout – have been discussed for years, and the county spent more than $22 million preparing for the project. But supervisors shelved the hub jail in 2011 amid cost concerns and opposition from Coachella Valley residents, who worried a jail seen from Interstate 10 would hurt the area’s image.
Even if supervisors revived the hub jail, a county staff analysis casts doubt on the ability to pay for it in the short term.
County policy dictates that no more than 7 percent of general fund spending go to paying off construction debt, a ratio meant to appease rating agencies that grade the county’s credit-worthiness. Adding 1,600 beds to Larry Smith brings the county to that threshold by 2020, the analysis shows.
The threshold would be shattered by 2025 if the county tries to add 10,000 beds now, according to the analysis. The Indio jail and other approved projects will double the county’s annual debt payments to $40 million by 2016, according to the analysis.
Deputy County Executive Officer Christopher Hans, who presented the analysis to supervisors, noted the projections are less accurate the farther they go out.
NOTHING BUT JAILS?
But assuming the numbers are true, there’s practically no room in the general fund – the county’s main piggy bank – for non-jail construction projects.
In the past, the county could use redevelopment money to pay for new infrastructure. But that option vanished in 2011 when the courts upheld the abolishment of California redevelopment agencies.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission, a multi-jurisdictional agency, does have its own funding for transportation infrastructure. It’s also possible to pay for construction through developer impact fees, state and federal money and other sources.
Right now, 20 percent of the county’s $590 million in discretionary general fund revenue goes to corrections. Jail spending would make up more than 40 percent if 1,600 beds are added to Larry Smith and more than 80 percent if a 6,000-bed jail is also built.
The five supervisors committed in April to improving the ratio of deputies to residents in the county’s unincorporated areas, which aren’t part of cities. The ratio stood at 1.2 deputies per 1,000 residents before the recession and fell to 0.75 per 1,000 in 2012. It should rise to 1 per 1,000 by the end of 2013.
To reach 1.2 per 1,000, Corser said the sheriff would have to add 148 deputies by 2018 at an annual cost of $21.4 million. Actual costs could vary depending on how long it takes to screen and train new hires.
During the workshop, Supervisor John Tavaglione questioned whether the 1.2 ratio is feasible. During tough times in prior years, budgets for the animal control and code enforcement departments were slashed, and supervisors had to restore them, he said.
“Now we’ve obliterated those departments,” Tavaglione said. “And we’re going to have to rebuild them again.”
Public safety departments have seen their budgets cut 3 percent in recent years, but other departments took hits of at least 15 to 19 percent, Corser said. Factoring in non-county funding, code enforcement and animal control budgets since 2007 have dropped 33 and 18 percent, respectively.
In September 2007, supervisors beefed up code enforcement staffing in the unincorporated areas to 90 officers and supervising staff, up from 40 the year before. The number is 44 now.
Tavaglione stressed he supports the Sheriff’s Department and said he would love to see a 1.2 ratio.
However, “To think that we can just, for the next five years, focus every single dollar that we have on only the Sheriff’s Department and nothing else … that we’re not going to be able to provide the other services necessary in our communities to support, that go along with sheriff … it’s ridiculous,” he said.
Supervisor Marion Ashley said without a safe environment, the county won’t realize the economic growth it is expecting.
PRICE FOR SAFETY
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Van Wagenen said the district attorney’s office agrees jail beds are the top priority.
However, he said more prosecutors will be needed as more deputies arrest lawbreakers. Van Wagenen estimates the office is down 15 to 20 lawyers compared to four years ago. In recent years, the office has sought grants and outside funding to offset expenses, he added.
The county also is bracing for possible holes in this year’s budget. The Sheriff’s Department could have a $20 million shortfall and Riverside County Regional Medical Center is looking at a $50 million gap when the fiscal year ends next June, Corser said.
Assistant Sheriff Steve Thetford said his department appreciates the costs associated with expanding jails and hiring more deputies.
“There’s a price for public safety,” he said.
Alternative sentencing Re-Entry programs like Second Chance Alliance for Riverside County will increase public safety and generate revenues for the various community it will serve. Click the insignia to view our vision.
For a long time the simple idea that a person who is in prison can’t commit crimes has dominated our thinking about crime prevention through incarceration. It’s a straightforward idea, and it makes a lot of sense and is in fact mostly true. That person who is incarcerated, while locked up, will not be committing crimes. But that does not mean crimes won’t be committed.
So there are several problems with the central thesis. One is that most crimes that are committed are committed by young men in groups, and if you take one person out of that group and lock that person up, it doesn’t mean the groups seize up or stop being criminally active.
In an area of drug-related crimes, drug markets for example, there’s incentive to recruit someone into the group who maybe would not necessarily have been involved in it. And when the issue is gun-related drug crime, the idea is you bring a person in who might not have been involved in this way, and you’ll give that person a gun. So the crime rates that the community experiences continue largely unaffected with these one-on-one individuals going through the prison system.
The second thing that’s wrong with this idea is that we sort of have this vision that you locked this person up, that that person’s just locked up. But they’re not actually locked up. They are in prison for a couple of years or three, and then they’re back out again. In these neighborhoods where we have very large numbers of people cycling in and out of the prison system, you have this homeostasis of a bunch of missing men, but some are being removed every month and some are returning every month. …
That community is stable. The men who are missing are missing. The groups who are criminally active stay criminally active. And the incarceration experience has surprisingly little impact on crime.
“We have been growing the prison population whether crime rates went up or went down, whether we were in good economic times or bad, during war, during peace, when the number of young men in the crime-prone age groups was increasing at the same time that it was decreasing.”
Just to say it in another way, in 1972 we had about 200,000 people in prison. We now have about 1.2 million people in prison. We have six times the number of people locked up, and we have basically the same crime rate we had. …
Also, locking people up had a boomerang effect. So, for example, one of the things we know is that going to prison reduces your lifetime earnings by 30 to 40 percent. So if you have a neighborhood where every male has been in prison, you have a neighborhood where the men as a group are earning 40 percent less income.
A number of the men are gone at any given time; they’re locked up. And then the men that are there are not able to produce income to support families, to support children, to buy goods, to make the neighborhood have economic activity to support businesses. So for that neighborhood, the net effect of rates of incarceration is that the neighborhood has trouble adjusting. Neighborhoods where there’s limited economic activity around the legitimate market are neighborhoods where you have a rightness to grow illegitimate markets.
Then there are just dozens of other examples. For example, having a parent going to prison increases the chances of a child ending up in the criminal justice system by about 25 percent. So if you have a neighborhood where all the adult males are going to prison, you have a neighborhood where the children’s risk of going to prison … is about a quarter higher.
So we’re, in a way, in these neighborhoods with high incarceration rates, producing the mechanisms that lead to high crime rates.
I am all for humanitarianism, but I served my country and before I became an ex-offender with two college degrees I was still faced conditions of employment. After my first felony I was really not considered worthy of living in a decent place nor employment. These people are getting flights and ankle bracelets for free, I had to pay $300.00 dollars every two weeks to stay amongest my family. I am fighting various mixed emotions about this subject. We have a failed system no matter which party is in office.
President Obama calls it a “humanitarian crisis.” He has already requested $2 billion in emergency funding from Congress and in an exclusive interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he had this message for parents south of the border.
“Do not send your children to the border,” he said. “If they do make it, they’ll get sent back.”
Is immigration a drain on the welfare state?
Another popular argument for maintaining tough restrictions on immigration is that without strict laws limiting immigration, unskilled workers would flock to America to take advantage of its relatively robust welfare state. The economic literature in this area yields conflicting conclusions and varies greatly depending on the country being studied. Some studies show that immigrants take out more in benefits than they pay in taxes, while other studies show the opposite. But George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan argues that the welfare state in America specifically dissuades folks from coming here purely for welfare benefits. First, writes Caplan:
“Contrary to popular stereotypes, welfare states focus on the old, not the poor. Social Security and Medicare dwarf means-tested programs. Since immigrants tend to be young, they often end up supporting elderly natives rather than ‘milking the system.’ Illegal immigrants who pay taxes on fake Social Security numbers are pure profit for the Treasury. In 2005, Social Security’s chief actuary estimated that without all the taxes paid on invalid Social Security numbers, ‘the system’s long-term funding hole over 75 years would be 10 percent deeper.’”
Second, Caplan points out that most government spending is what economists call “nonrival,” meaning that the government “can serve a larger population with little or no extra cost.” For instance, he argues, the United States military could adequately defend a population of twice the size of America for the same, or just slightly higher, cost. “An even clearer case,” Caplan writes, is “if the population of the U.S. doubled overnight, the national debt (not deficit) would remain the same, and the per capita debt would halve. The lesson: Immigrants can pull their own fiscal weight even if their tax bills are well below average.”
Approximately 16 million United States citizens have been convicted of felony offenses. At least 14 million of these ex-felons are unconfined, and at least 9 million have completed the sanctions ordered by the criminal justice system and are under no official supervision.
Upon conviction for a felony offense and continuing past release from prison and parole, sometimes for life, ex-felons are subject to a wide array of limitations on work, education, family, and civic activities. These bans are sometimes used as explicit forms of additional punishment (i.e., voting bans) and sometimes invoked to protect vulnerable populations. Serious ethical concerns exist about these types of officially-sanctioned collateral consequences because they go beyond punishment within the criminal justice system. These ethical concerns are balanced against the fact that ex-offenders are undeniably at a higher risk for crime than non-offenders.
The exact calculus of this balance is outside the realm of social science. But social science research can calibrate the risk associated with a criminal history record, and we feel safe in concluding that explicit lifetime bans cannot be justified on the basis of safety or concerns about crime risk. Age and time since last offense can help predict current offending risk. Older offenders and individuals who stay arrest-free for 7 years or more simply have very little risk for future crime, and this risk is similar to that of non-offenders.
The issue of so many people being unemployed due to past records is causing a strain on the economic development of our community and nation at large. Because the number of re-entering citizens is so great, “10,000 to 12,000 adults and 500 juveniles are projected to be released from incarceration and returned to communities each year, an even greater number reenter communities from local jails and federal correctional centers,”(Services). We, the tax payers of America, are each carrying one to two additional people to our own families each year in the payment of our taxes, the cost of our goods, and the rise in the cost of housing. Studies show that due to the ex-offenders inability to find employment, recidivism is high, “Of the 7 million Americans (1 in 33) who were incarcerated, on probation or parole in 2010, more than 4 in 10 can be expected to return to prison within three years, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States.” (Lee), thus adding to our cost of living as we must continue to build institutions, hire more officers, and offset insurance rates by raising cost in preparation of the growing numbers of convicts. If employers were more forgiving, and ex-offenders were allowed this second chance many are fighting for, the ex-offender would be responsible for their own cost of living, and the expenses would not trickle down or spread wide, the families and small business of our immediate communities will no longer have to suffer so greatly by footing the bill.
Citizens returning to society from jails and/or institutions, known as the ex-offender, ex-felon, or ex- convict, are being denied quality employment, housing and social services due to their past mistakes although they have paid their debt to society. This is all a part of the “tough on crime” movement. Quantitative research shows “lifetime bans for ex-felons affect an estimated 1 in 19 adults.” It is estimated that our government spends about “$52 billion dollars a year on those incarcerated”, stated in The PEW Center on the States, (Trust). Not only are we spending money on incarceration, but we also are losing money not employing these individuals when they return home, “the United States had between 12 and 14 million ex-offenders of working age. Because a prison record or felony conviction greatly lowers ex-offenders’ prospects in the labor market, we estimate that this large population lowered the total male employment rate that year by 1.5 to 1.7 percentage points. In GDP terms, these reductions in employment cost the U.S. economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.” Out of the thousands of jobs available, 90% of the job vacancies are vacant due to the rejection of ex-offenders and out of the 10% that is left, only 50% of those will accept someone who has been convicted of a violent or serious felony. This makes five percent of the available jobs in our nation open to anyone, contrasting the large numbers of those re-entering society after incarceration.
Who owns the responsibility of redeveloping the economic status of our communities, of society, of the world? Now that the government has put in place re-entry programs designed to assist those individuals wishing to turn their lives around, permitting study programs, certification, and grant options, sending prepared citizens out into society equipped and qualified, would it not be the responsibility of the corporations, organizations, and privately owned companies to take a chance and take advantage of the people who are desperate to show they can work hard and well, and also take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) offered for hiring such candidates as the ex-offender?
There is plenty of work to go around that ex-offenders can and are qualified to do but are not being hired for. “As many as 600,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs remained vacant across the U.S. due to shortages of skilled workers, according to the Manufacturing Institute’s most recent “skills gap” report.” (Sirkin) Such certificates as welding, water treatment, carpentry, mechanics, machine technician, and computer operations are offered within institutions today, followed up with experience utilizing the education received while incarcerated in areas of shipping and receiving, manufacturing and telephone operators. If our society continues on the path of refusing employment in most industries, the cost of taking care of the ex-offender will continue to be absorbed by us tax paying citizens, as these individuals continue to go in and out of jail, remaining unemployed, and re-offending to survive. Where there is crime, there is cost to the tax payers, and “The government and the nation suffer. In many countries the government has to pay the unemployed some benefits. The greater the number of the unemployed or the longer they are without work the more money the government has to shell out.” (Effects of Unemployment on Society and the Economy) Why are private industries choosing to fit the bill to keep these people unemployed rather than putting them to work? Hiring the ex-offender can put the money back into the governmental budget through our employment output rates and “can” stop the cuts to other programs like the Department of Defense, that are in desperate need of funding. In many states across this nation, the government is focusing on the effects ex-offenders are having on society and individual communities due to the numbers for the year 2010 being as large as “725,000 are released from correctional facilities each year across the country,” therefore, vocational skills and career geared certifications, which are cheaper in the prisons than offered at private institutions, are being offered inside the institutions. Skill sets such as plumbing, HVAC, IT, and basic administration, along with various needed resources and programs designed to set these citizens on the right path are being offered in these institutions, for example, the DMV is setting up satellite stations inside institutions for the issuance of state identification to be issued upon release. Proper identification for employment is just one of the barriers ex-offenders face, but it is an obstacle that has proven to be of major importance. These training programs alongside these essential pieces needed for success place the responsibility in the hands of the public and private industries to hire these individuals who will then pay taxes, in turn, lowering our deficit.
I don’t know how to get this across to anyone, I don’t know if I am networking with the right people to get this done, but I could use some help to fore-fill this vision. It is really needed in our community in Hemet and Riverside County. There are programs, but not like this Second Chance Alliance May & I have in our heart to birth. I need your help, not just money, but anything that you possess in line with knowledge or skills to offer please feel free to contact us @ email@example.com and I will respond because we are serious about getting this done and making a difference. It is noted and recognized by our government and others around the world that if, “they, the ex-offender, have a proper job, are encouraged to take personal responsibility and work hard, they will feel proud to be able to support their family and would even be happy to pay tax” .This idea is supported by Blue Sky, a social enterprise in the UK who only hires ex-offenders and the success rate has had a positive influence on their economy. In reading the supported research and text associated with the successful program offered in the UK, it is stated that, “The employee re-offending rate is only 15%: 48% obtain sustained employment on leaving.” (Jarvis). With the success rate of this particular program, which has had a total of 500 clients participate thus far, spreading the idealism and innovative ideas throughout the UK should speak volumes to the US. If the returning citizen honestly wishes to work hard and take care of their families, their productivity will aid in the redevelopment of our economy.
It is obvious a change needs to take place; otherwise we will continue to be victims of the convicted felons’ cycle. It is the belief of many that we can “…reduce the recidivism rate of offenders by reintegrating them into society instead of ostracizing them as criminals. If the community is not supportive, and/or receptive to giving out second chances, are not the government’s attempts to equip the ex-offender futile, the motivation of the ex-offender to turn their lives around and make good on giving back to a society that took care of them done in vain, and also are “we” not responsible for allowing the growth of the expenses that take care of the rising number of ex-offenders to affect our own lives?
Crime is a social concept based upon social structure (organization of society) and social norms (ideas, customs, habits, attitudes of people). As such, crime is considered to be an offense against society. This concept of crime as an offense against society evolved from English tradition.
Common law was an offense against the country that, as such, was to be prosecuted by the King. It was based on custom and tradition as interpreted by the judges. It was not written down in a code that one could easily consult; rather it took its form from the collected opinions of English judges who actually created law when they ruled on specific cases. As new situations arose and more opinions were formed, the common law grew.
Criminal law defines forbidden offenses against society – by formalizing the common law – and specifies conditions for enforcing and punishing offenders.
New ‘too rich to jail’ case sparks outrage:
A rich father – a Du Pont family heir – served no jail time after raping his three year old daughter. How could a convicted child rapist end up with only probation and treatment? A legal panel discusses the case.
To summarize, beginning in the 1400s, the English, and later the Americans, defined crime by:
the dominant morality expressed in society – the common law;
the rules articulated by the most powerful members in society; and
the sense of threat perceived by the most dominant, powerful members of society.
And they dealt with such crime through a criminal justice system which
defines crime by identifying the boundaries between right and wrong, moral and immoral, legal and illegal;
patrols and enforces such boundaries;
judges those who fail to honor the boundaries; and
punishes those who have been judged guilty of a crime.
Categories of Colonial Law1. Crimes involving sexual acts. Any sexual act other than traditional intercourse between man and wife was a crime in all colonies. Sex-related crimes were the most frequent of all criminal offenses during the first 100 years of colonization – between 10 – 22% of all court business. Most common were �fornication before marriage;� bearing illegitimate children; and beastiality. Sex crimes remained on the books in the 18th Century but were prosecuted less often – except for fornication which was prosecuted not because extramarital sex was immoral, but mainly because of the �practical considerations� of colonial society – adultery threatened family integrity and created the possibility of private violence/disorder; fornication among servants that resulted in childbirth left the new mother less valuable as a servant and society was left to support a bastard.
2. Crimes perceived as socially harmful misconduct. Almost any act that contributed to public and personal disorder was considered a crime – drunkenness, blasphemy, lying, idleness, Sabbath violations. Suchvictimless crimes appear more often in 17th Century court records than any other except sex-related crimes. Sabbath violations among the most prevalent crimes during both 17th and 18th centuries.
3. Crimes against the person – both criminal (dealing with public wrongs which involves social harm and violates the norms of the community) and civil (dealing with private conflicts with violate relationships between individuals). According to recent historical examinations of surviving court records in most of the colonies, the most common crimes against the person were slander -approximately 17% of all court business in all colonies; assault – approximately 6% of all court business; homocide – almost always directed at servants and slaves, or related to domestic and inter-familial disputes; and witchcraft.
In the South, crimes against the person were punished the least of any other category. Citizens of substance often felt it was their duty to defend themselves, their property, their family, or their honor against any real or imagined threat. Often, when given a clear choice between observing the law or defending their honor – they choose to defend their honor. These lawbreakers were treated with dignity and respect. Juries were reluctant to convict a man of murder or assault if he had committed the crime to defend his honor – and action that was, at best, loosely defined. Often, those convicted of assault were fined less than a dollar.
4. Crimes against property. Crimes against property were rare – petty theft was uncommon and grand theft almost never occurred. Why? Stealing property violated both the sanctity of private property and the code of honor that included a strong sense of economic morality. People convicted of crimes against property received the most serious punishment which was designed to deter other would-be offenders and shame the culprit in the eyes of the community.
In the 18th Century, crimes against property increased as towns became bigger with more diversity and wealth. Designating crimes became a way to protect property during the 18th Century. For instance, in Virginia, hogs were a vital part of a family�s economy – more valuable than sheep. Its laws made stealing hogs a more serious crime than stealing sheep. In the late 18th Century, this changed even more. Crimes against property increased, and in so doing, the concept of crime as a product of sin was challenged by a new social concept – crime was the product of idleness.
The Bible contains so many verses that address greed and oppression of the poor that I will not analyze them all, but I will relate as many of them as possible to modern-day scenarios. I have divided these verses by subject and will begin with a brief analysis of immigration. I will then follow with an examination of every verse that addresses greed, greed of the poor, interest, oppression, God’s judgment of the oppressors, and taxes.
Exodus 22:21, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Context: Included in a listing of various laws.
Exodus 23:9, “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 19:33-34, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Deuteronomy 17:17, “And he [the king of Israel] must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself.”
Context: God provides guidelines for future kings of Israel.
Analysis: Even the king of Israel was to avoid materialism.
Proverbs 23:4, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist.”
Exodus 22:25, “If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.”
Leviticus 25:36-37, “Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you. You shall not lend them money at interest taken in advance, or provide them food at a profit.”
Exodus 22: 22-24, “You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.”
Context: Various laws are listed in this section on Exodus.
Analysis: Why are widows and orphans so special? Because, along with aliens, they had no inheritance in the land. In Israel, men inherited land from their fathers as they became adults (they did not have to wait for their fathers to die like we do today). As women reached adulthood, they left their fathers’ lands to live on their husbands’ lands. On these lands, people grew their food and built their homes with the resources of the land. So this inheritance of land gave young Israelite families what they needed to survive. It’s quite different from our society in which young people venture out on their own lacking both food and shelter and having to earn enough money to obtain it.
Widows, orphans, and aliens, however, could not share in Israel’s inheritance, and therefore, lacked proper food and shelter. That’s why God so frequently calls the Israelites to look out for their interests.
Exodus 23:8, “You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.”
God’s Judgment of the Oppressors
Isaiah 3:14-15, “The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people: ‘It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?’ says the Lord God of hosts.”
Similarly, in Jesus’ day the Pharisees and Sadducees were feuding religious parties. The Sadducees held only the first five books of the Bible to be the word of God and denied belief in the afterlife, while the Pharisees believed in the entire Old Testament and in the afterlife, too. Jesus also believed in the entire Old Testament and the afterlife. So did He support the Pharisees? No, He didn’t! In Matthew 16:6, “Jesus said to them [His disciples], ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’” He went on to explain that He opposed not their “yeast,” but their teachings.
Despite the fact that Jesus had more beliefs in common with the Pharisees than He did the Sadducees, He opposed both sides, because both sides opposed God’s will. To support either party would have been the equivalent of supporting that party’s oppression of others and its promotion of man-made religious teachings over those of the Bible. Jesus protected His disciples from making the mistake of believing that one of two opposing parties must align with righteousness.
The way I see it, Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican (but Satan is a Libertarian). The Democrats sin by promoting individual freedom to the point where we do what we want with our bodies at the expense of and to the neglect of others, while the Republicans sin by promoting individual freedom to the point where we do what we want with our money at the expense of and to the neglect of others.
I don’t mean to say that we sin by belonging to either the Democrats or the Republicans, or by supporting capitalism or socialism. But I do mean to stress that we must not let these establishments teach us right and wrong. For us Christians, right and wrong must come from the Bible alone. God’s teachings must take precedence over those of our political parties, social groups, and even our nation. Those who claimed Jesus’ name during His ministry and the days of the early church did so because they believed Jesus’ teachings, and they obeyed His teachings above all else. Today many Christians call upon His name, but promote and obey teachings contrary to His, such as the promotion of the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor. If we don’t believe and obey Jesus’ teachings (and the Old Testament teachings He supported), then we really don’t believe in Him.
7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him;9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
The values of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish were radically different than those of His day. The Pharisees and teachers of the law clamored for the spotlight and sought the adulation of the crowds. Many of us still do this today. We want instant gratification from peers and outsiders. We want our praise now, WOW!!! Lord please send your glory upon us to replace our selfishness, purify our hearts and breath new life upon us.
In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable taught His followers not to be like that. The parable talks about people who chose the most honored seat for themselves at a wedding feast (vv.7-8). He said they would be embarrassed when the host asked them publicly to take their rightful place (v.9). Jesus went on in His story to talk about whom to invite to such dinners. he said they shouldn’t invite friends and family, but “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame , the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay” (vv. 13-14).
Are you disappointed because you have not broken into the more elite group in your church or neighborhood? Or because you are stuck down on rung two when you’d rather be on rung eight or at least climbing the social ladder? Listen to what Jesus said: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v.11). That’s the radical and upside-down way of God’s kingdom!
Blessed Savior, make me humble,
Take away my sinful pride;
In myself I’m sure to stumble,
Help me stay close by your side.
In Christ’s Kingdom, humility trumps pride every time………….
My wife and I started off in a small beginning. We almost destroyed one another just like we were used to devour those we sold drugs to and used drugs with. It wasn’t until five years had passed since our seeing one another that she took a small step of faith and reached out to me while I was serving my last year of a 5-year sentence in Corcoran State Prison and asked me to forgive her. That act of reconciliation has led to 23 years of friendship and 5 years of marriage. We have accomplished several small things that have turned into very significant events in our life and the lives of family and countless others.
Consider for a moment dreams or goals you’ve had which have been realized. Think back on those accomplishments or successful experiences which are most meaningful for you to remember. I’m willing to guess that more than one of them had a rather tentative, inglorious start.
When we look carefully at the path which led to a personal success, we often realize that it began with a modest step forward, that in time reaped a much greater harvest than we anticipated.
Such small first steps might include–
An awkward first visit to a church singles group, that led to meeting the person you married.
A hesitant phone call to ask someone out, or to inquire about a job opportunity, which received a much more positive response than you expected.
An application for a grant, written with a sense of futility, thinking you’d probably be better off spending your time doing something else. Yet to your astonishment, the grant was given, and significant doors have now opened through that one effort.
A business venture began with a paltry investment that succeeded far beyond your expectations.
A book picked up in a time of discouragement, that inspired you and gave you the perspective to pursue your dream.
A reconciled relationship, now going strong, which began with a simple request for forgiveness.
With the eyes of hindsight, we look back to such starting efforts with awe and gratitude. We realize there was greatness in that moment of small beginning that we didn’t begin to appreciate at the time. We may shudder, too, to think of how close we came to not taking that one initial step which opened such important doors.
A Reason for Optimism
Unfortunately, the benefit of the small beginning is often lost on us when we face the possibility of embarking on a new dream. The effort it would take to pursue it seems massive; we’re overwhelmed with the impossibility of it all. There seems to be little or nothing we can do to move forward.
To the eyes of faith, though, there is a world of difference between “little” and “nothing.” Often there is something we can do–some obvious first step we could take. This may be exactly what is needed to put the wheels of faith in motion.
For one thing, we shouldn’t underestimate the value that taking any initial step toward a goal has upon us psychologically. Suddenly our psyche is committed, and we become more alert to opportunities that will move us toward our dream. Others become more aware of our intentions as well and are more likely to try to help us.
Yet the spiritual aspect of taking the first step is even more important. The seemingly insignificant small beginning often gets much closer to the heart of the biblical idea of going forward in faith than we realize.
From Little Acorns . . .
We don’t usually think of it this way. The very notion of moving out in faith seems to imply taking a bold, extravagant step of some sort. We quickly think of the biblical prototypes: Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua leading the Israelites to demolish the wall of Jericho with a shout, David marshaling his troops for battle, Gideon confronting the indomitable Midianite army with only three hundred soldiers, Esther going before King Ahasuerus knowing that her life hung in the balance, Peter preaching salvation to the large throng of Jews gathered on the day of Pentecost. It’s easy to conclude that if we’re not throwing caution to the wind, we’re not really taking a step of faith.
Yet Scripture also shows great respect for the small, subtle, unspectacular first step. Consider these examples–
In the parable of the talents, Jesus commended the two servants who invested their money and upbraided the one who failed to give his one coin to the bankers (Mt 25:14-30). Few first steps are less inspiring than putting money in the bank. No one notices, there are no neon lights, and there is no immediate reward for this act of discipline. In fact, the period you must wait for any significant benefit can seem interminable. Yet with time, the incremental gains grow larger and larger, and the eventual profit is considerable.
It’s striking that Jesus paid such respect to prudent financial investment. Clearly, too, he intended the parable of the talents to be an analogy to other areas of life where we take risks for his sake. It conveys an unmistakable lesson–that we shouldn’t neglect the benefit of a small beginning in any venture of faith.
Ruth’s marriage to Boaz–one of the most celebrated in Scripture–resulted from a small, ignoble step forward. The marriage became possible because of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, moved from Moab to Bethlehem. The move, detailed in the book of Ruth, was anything but a triumphant one for these two women. Both went to Bethlehem as widows–Naomi returning grief-stricken to her homeland, and Ruth following along out of devotion to Naomi. The move was borne more of necessity than of vibrant vision for the future.
Yet at least they did something to break the inertia of their grief and make a fresh start. In time the move brought benefits that exceeded their wildest expectations. Ruth met Boaz and married him, then gave birth to a son who became an ancestor of David. Naomi also found new life in this family connection, and in the many friendships that opened for her in Bethlehem. An unglamorous step forward brought about a wellspring of life for Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, and countless others who enjoyed the family relationships that resulted in the generations which followed.
We tend to glamorize the healing incidents in the Gospels and assume that those who came to Jesus for help did so boldly, with a sublime confidence that they would be instantly cured. I’m certain, though, that many came in the same ambivalent, tentative spirit in which we often seek medical help today. The woman with the hemorrhage is a case in point (Mark 5:24-34). Terribly concerned that no one would notice her, and uncertain whether approaching Jesus was even appropriate, she decided merely to touch the hem of his garment. That one small gesture not only brought her healing but an effusive compliment from Jesus about her faith (v. 34).
As we see here, Scripture not only describes small first steps which brought results over time but those which reaped a surprising harvest immediately. Virtually all of the healing miracles mentioned in Scripture fit this pattern. The “miracles of expansion” do as well. These include incidents in the Old and New Testaments where large crowds were fed with a small provision of food (2 Kings 4:42-44; Mk 6:33-44, 8:1-9), and the miraculous provision of oil that saved the widow of Cain from financial ruin (2 Kings 4:1-7). While we cannot presume that our own small first steps will immediately produce such astonishing results, we can never know unless we try.
And in time the results of a meager first effort often do surprise us.
The Challenge of Small Beginnings
While taking the small first step can make all the difference, there are two factors which can keep us from appreciating an opportunity to move forward that we actually have. One is that because of its apparent insignificance, we may not even recognize the small beginning that’s available for us to make.
I remember a friend who left a well-paying nursing job to enter a doctoral program. Though Nancy had long wanted to pursue this goal, she assumed it was financially impossible, since she was a single parent in her forties. Finally, she faced up to the fact that there was a small beginning she could make, which was to apply for grants. She made six applications, assuming her prospects for success were minimal. To her astonishment, four of the six were granted. When Nancy shared this personal triumph with me, I couldn’t help but think of how many people there must be who need this same financial assistance–and would qualify for it–yet have concluded that it isn’t worth the trouble to apply. Nancy herself had overlooked this option for years.
Of course, writing a grant application means some uninspiring paperwork, and this suggests a second factor that can keep us from recognizing the chance to make a small beginning–the fact that we may look with contempt upon what we have to do.
Such was the near-fatal flaw of Naaman the leper in the Old Testament. Naaman sought healing for leprosy from Elisha, who told him to wash seven times in the Jordan river. Naaman’s response was one of anger: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” (2 Kings 5:11-12 NIV). The text concludes, “he turned and went off in a rage.”
Naaman’s servants had the good sense to challenge him, saying, “if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” (v. 13). Naaman fortunately repented of his obstinacy and followed the prophet’s counsel. Yet his example warns us that no matter how greatly we want to reach a goal, our disdain for some of the details may keep us from moving forward. The initial steps that we must take are particularly likely to seem distasteful to us.
We need, in short, a greater esteem for the small beginnings of life. “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings,” as Pat Robertson is fond of paraphrasing Zechariah 4:10.
Do you have a personal dream which has not been realized? To the best of your knowledge, is your dream in line with God’s best intentions for your life? Yet does it seem that there is little or nothing you can do to move toward your goal-that your hands are tied?
Remember that a small beginning is sometimes the very step needed to open yourself to the provision of Christ. Pray earnestly and look honestly at what you actually can do to start moving toward your goal. Don’t look with contempt on the small beginning. Think of it as the launching point for a journey of faith.
And remember that God’s hand in your life is not shortened. Stands the reason we are stepping out with Second Chance Alliance, Click to review and pray our strength. Thanks in advance.
Independence: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss
This week has been a sheer blessing for May and I. We missed several of our kids graduate from middle school all up to High school and yesterday and today we have been apart of our grandson’s graduation and our youngest son. Johnathan and Keenan have taken major leaps to position themselves to succeed in-spite of the struggles they have had to endure. We thank God for our family. Carla Hayward my sister in law and Mother Green have sacrificed so much to keep our family members within family reach when life showed up in the lives of our kids.
Johnathan and keenan have excelled academically and scholastically in football and basketball. They know all to well about grand parents and parents struggles that separated us for a brief time. We are very thankful for the support rendered us from family. YeJohn our nephew is a very talented individual with an artistic hand, he likes to sing and cook. Yejohn wants to be different, he also has admirable attributes that I liken to myself : ROTC while achieving his diploma. I did that and went into the Navy and became a Navy Seal. I admire his tenacity in overcoming struggles in academics, but stayed focused on his goal to not be defeated because of bad work ethics.
Marie, Johnathan’s mother is another exceptional individual in my life. She over came her educational struggles while raising my grandson. She went back to school while she worked and provided a safe atmosphere for our grandson in our absence. She never followed the crowd when some family wanted to write me off, she stayed her course and even rewarded me with the honor of a grandson named after me. We all have exceptional traits of character, my wife is due to graduated in 2015 after turning her life around from serving a seven year term and twenty five years of addiction. God has given us both a clean slate.
It is my prayer that all our kids and extended family will take a look at society and the pivotal swing it has taken towards mass incarceration and apply themselves accordingly. May and I are not sugar coating our plight of life with our kids nor our in laws. We are supplying them with our “Truth” and being very transparent in our walk as to allow them the hope and determination required to succeed.
A majority (66%) of the responding colleges collect criminal justice information, although not all of them consider it in their admissions process. Private schools and four-year schools are more likely to collect and use such information than their public and two-year counterparts.
A sizable minority (38%) of the responding schools does not collect or use criminal justice information and those schools do not report that their campuses are less safe as a result. Self-disclosure through the college application or in some cases the Common Application is the most typical way that colleges and universities collect the information. A small minority of schools conduct
criminal background checks on some applicants, usually through contracting with a private company.
Most schools that collect and use criminal justice information have adopted additional steps in their admissions decision process, the most common of which is consulting with academic deans and campus security personnel. Special requirements such as submitting a letter of explanation or a letter from a corrections official and completing probation or parole are common.
Less than half of the schools that collect and use criminal justice information have written policies in place, and only 40 percent train staff on how to interpret such information.
A broad array of convictions are viewed as negative factors in the context of admissions decision-making, including drug and alcohol convictions, misdemeanor convictions, and youthful offender adjudications.If it is discovered that an applicant has failed to disclose a criminal record there is an increased likelihood that the applicant will be denied admission or have their admission offer rescinded. A slight majority of schools that collect information provides support or supervision for admitted students who have criminal records, with more emphasis on supervision rather than supportive services.
In the United States, people can land in prison for life over minor offenses. They can be locked up forever for siphoning gasoline from a truck, shoplifting small items from a department store or attempting to cash a stolen check. Sentences across the United States in the last 30 years have doubled. Roy Lee Clay, for example, received in 2013 a sentence of mandatory punishment of life without parole for refusing to accept a plea bargain of 10 years for trafficking 1kg of heroin. Even the sentencing judge found this “extremely severe and harsh”. The bigger picture: a recent Human Rights Watch report found that the threat of harsh sentences leads 97% of drug defendants to plead guilty rather than exercise their right to a public trial.
Most citizens are shocked when they hear such reports. Federal judgeJohn Gleeson of New York said that the way prosecutors use plea bargaining “coerces guilty pleas and produces sentences so excessively severe they take your breath away”. Federal judge Mark Bennett of Iowa has described the “shocking, jaw-dropping disparity” of prior-conviction enhancements to force a plea bargain in a case. But these and other shocks mean nothing without a larger shock of recognition: Americans like to punish.
We like it so much that we ignore what legal punishment means in the nation’s jails and prisons. Incarceration extends far beyond the official designation of time served. It means horrifying levels of degradation and cruelty to prisoners at all levels. Overcrowding, gang activity, endemic rape, unchecked violence and overly long sentences have turned our jails and prisons into pocket war zones.
Recent federal governmental decisions to reduce or commute overly harsh drug sentences have been commendable initiatives in response. So has the Justice Department’s decision under Eric Holder to urge early release of low-level drug criminals sentenced under overly tough laws. But these efforts are drops in a very large bucket, and the bucket has a hole in it. That hole is the American belief in retribution.
Reacting against that belief, Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court has written “a people confident in its laws and institutions should not be ashamed of mercy”. President Obama’s decision in December tocommute the sentences of eight federal inmates of crack cocaine offenses was a step in that direction, but it was a baby step. In his first four and a half years, the president received 10,000 applications for clemency. The numbers in prison, at the cost of $167,000 a year per inmate in New York City, has moved the problem beyond palliative measures.
A combination of elements – social, economic, historical, political, religious, philosophical and legal in scope – has produced a perfect storm of punishment in America, and the most important question about our justice system’s punitive impulse is rarely asked: who do we want prisoners to become when they walk out?
In this country, a prior conviction can prevent a released prisoner from getting a job, a necessary license or public housing. State policies that deny a convicted felon the right to vote disenfranchise 5.8 million Americans, including one in 13 African-American adults. If we are to restore inmates to reasonably responsible public lives, we must change these policies, and we must begin by making time on the inside functional. We must take the idea of punishment apart and put it back together in new ways. Too many in our prisons have no way out, find nothing to do while waiting for nothing to happen, and reach for an available depravity to make existence somehow meaningful.
This country has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population. On average, western European nations incarcerate 95 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the US incarcerates a stunning 714 out of 100,000. We also put away very large numbers in solitary confinement, a sentence unknown in most other democratic countries. Over 2 million people live behind bars in the United States. That’s more than the combined populations of New Hampshire and Vermont. According to a recent report by The Sentencing Project (pdf), 159,000 of these inmates are serving life sentences, a third without the possibility of parole – and about 10,000 of them for non-violent offenses. Few other countries allow such sentences for any offense.
The size of the problem means that it will be hard to turn around. Incarceration has become big business in the United States. The states and federal government spend $80bn dollars on their punishment regimes. Whole communities now depend on prison dollars for the livelihood of their citizens. One out of nine state government employees works somewhere in corrections. Prisons employ nearly 500,000 correctional officers, and their powerful unions want to keep prisons packed. More inmates mean more jobs for union members.
The role of money grows with the rise of private prisons. A full 7% of America’s inmate population resides in commercially run enterprises, places where overcrowding becomes an aspiration instead of the problem! The more people you push into lightly guarded and therefore poorly run institutions, the greater your financial gain. The administrators of private institutions openly acknowledge this marginal cost curve. Prison beds are their “honey holes”. The profit motive in the privatization of punishment spawns every form of corruption. Count on it. In any state with a large number of private prisons, legislators are on the dole.
Many see these problems, but nearly everyone in the system has reasons to keep things the way they are. Legislators raise their profile by criminalizing more conduct. Police must maintain arrest quotas. Prosecutors need high conviction rates. Judges are handicapped by harsh sentencing guidelines and often by the need to win reelection. An average prison guard has a better salary and benefits than would be available on the open market.
Law schools are seldom better on this topic. Aspiring legal professionals are taught how to punish in large, obligatory first-year courses on criminal law. Rarely do they receive detailed instruction on the plight of the punished except in small, voluntary clinics. Even law professors wonder whether mass incarceration is the problem that most deserves their attention.
No one, however, can ignore the reality that American prisons have become a public reproach. We are throwing away too many lives by making them worse instead of better. Most crime happens early in a life span. Does so much of it still deserve a life sentence? The real shock of recognition must come here. Nothing less than the ideals of the republic are at stake in the answer. A community is ultimately defined by how it treats those under its control.
That control begins with the right to punish, but the legal right is defined today from what the inflictor may do. More functional utility for the punished is needed. We now know that long sentences promote criminal behavior in and out of prison. European minimum sentences range from one to five years. Many jurisdictions in the United States set minimums at 10 years or more. Think about what this means: a single mother of two children, aged 11 and 12, may be put away for at least 10 years – all over a very peripheral role in drugs, because she is forced to accept a prosecution’s plea bargain against a possible charge of life without parole. Think about what that means: she will emerge from a prison far away from her family, when her grown son and daughter are 21 and 22 years old. What kind of development can we expect from these prison-induced orphans, and what is the prisoner – the mother – prepared to become upon her release?
Shorter sentences, more outside solutions, better parole arrangements, more vocational skills directed toward life after prison represent only the beginning of wisdom in 21st century penology. Action must follow language. The most popular and liberal New York governor in decades, Andrew Cuomo, speaks often against mass incarceration. On 1 January 2014, the traditional date for executive pardons, he pardoned three people. All three had long been out of prison. All elected political figures fear another crime and are haunted by the charge of “soft on crime”.
No one in America is soft on crime.
If we ignore those who are so unjustly treated in the name of justice, where up the ladder of concern do the rules say that it is time to start caring? Mistreatment in rampant punishment regimes tarnishes us all, and we have to worry about what comes next. Legal punishment grows when left alone. It never stands still.
We are being tenacious in following our dream. We know we stand alone, but we strive nevertheless, Check out our passionate vision by clicking the link.
I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things, things that seem alien to their natures. Why do good people sometimes act evil? Why do smart people sometimes do dumb or irrational things?
Lyfe had already served 10 years in prison before beginning his music career. Yesterday morning, he posted a message to twitter that read, “I really need u guys prayers today and tomorrow…would really appreciate it”, followed by a longer message yesterday afternoon.
This will be my last post. To everyone who gave me a chance I am forever in your debt. I have had a fabulous career because of you. All I can say in parting is that I have been honest with yaw. I didn’t sugarcoat a word didn’t hold back a single sylible of my life from yaw. I’ve lived a hundred lives in these 6 yrs so I not only won’t, i don’t have the right to complain. I would like to think that I’ve changed lives by changing my own, tho I can’t be sure. But one thing I am sure of is God gives and takes away in measure. He is fair, just and forever. Amen from aman… Smile, its contageous:)
Natasha and Mary
I testified this week before seven men and women who are poised to make a decision that could affect tens of thousands of drug prisoners and their loved ones. Liberty is at stake.
The federal Sentencing Commission, the lawmakers that write the rules that affect nearly every federal sentence, is trying to decide whether to lower sentences for over 50,000 drug offenders in prison. They asked FAMM’s opinion – you can imagine what we think! — and earlier this week, I had a chance to tell them in a public hearing. I felt, as we always do when addressing lawmakers, that I was speaking for you.
I wanted to carry your voices straight to the Commission. So, to prepare for my appearance, I spoke with some FAMM members who had left prison early when the Commission made them eligible for lower crack cocaine prison sentences in 2008 and 2010. I wanted to know about all the life that has filled the years the Sentencing Commission gave back to them; things they would have missed if still incarcerated.
Let me share a couple of their stories with you. Stephanie lives in Mobile, Alabama. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison, without parole, at age 23 for a non-violent crime. She spent over 21 years in prison before her early release in November 2011. Here is what she has done with the four years the Commission gave her. She is there to pick up grandchildren from day care every day and keep them close when they are sick or their parents need a break. She marvels at how these six grandchildren attached to her so instantly, as though she had been there all their short lives, instead of not at all. All were born while she was in prison. Her return home helped knit-up tears in the fabric of her family; people who had not spoken for years have rebuilt relationships in her orbit. She has celebrated 27 birthdays of children and grandchildren and of course all the holidays and family reunions. She would still be in prison today but for the Commission’s decision.
Two months after Natasha was released from prison in March 2008, she enrolled in college. This week, she received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Natasha served 11 years of her 15 year prison sentence. In the four extra years of freedom she gained from the Commission, besides rocking her own education, she attended the college graduations of two of her children, was there to welcome two of her three grandchildren into the world, and said goodbye to her grandmother and her beloved uncle. Today she helps potty train the babies, teaches them to walk, and volunteers in the 6th grade classroom of her teacher’s-aide daughter, where she coaches reading.
The lives of all the former prisoners I had the privilege of speaking with no longer revolve around the milestones they missed, but the ones they are they are part of.
Stephanie and Natasha are just two of the people I had in mind as I testified before the Sentencing Commissioners this week, urging them toreduce sentences for all drug offenders in prison.Those seven Commissioners have the power to change the lives of up to 51,000 federal prisoners – giving them a chance to spend time with grandchildren, attend graduations, walk daughters down the aisle, or hold the hand of an elderly parent.That’s why we fight so hard for sentencing changes at FAMM. We know that every unnecessary year – or day – in prison is time away from what makes us most human: families, communities, and social networks.
We need your help to make the strongest possible case to the Sentencing Commission, Congress, the President, and state legislators that sentencing laws must change! We’re trying to raise $25,000 this month so we can produce more case profiles to share nationwide that tell the stories of the people in prison who need relief.If you can make a donation, please do so today by clicking here. Your donation contributes to freedom for someone.
Thank you in advance for helping us bring people home sooner.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
1100 H Street NW
Washington DC, 20005
Director Michael Melendy takes a closer look at the life and times of rapper Cifforrd Harris. TIP is currently doing hard time and won’t see the light of day til march of 2010. Before his lock down, T.I. speaks to the future leaders of America, women. T.I. has commited himself to the upbringing of empowered women! WATCH as Rolling Out TV captures this significant step in the positive direction!
Produced By: Michael Melendy
Today the U.S. Sentencing Commission held an all-day hearing on drug guideline retroactivity. As you know, the Commission agreed to lower guidelines by two levels for most drug offenders coming into prison afterNovember 1, 2014.
The question they tackled today is whether to apply that lower guideline to people already serving drug sentences. The Commission has estimated that about 51,000 prisoners could be eligible for lower sentences if the Commission approves retroactivity and their average sentence reduction would be about 23 months.
There were 16 witnesses at today’s hearing – including FAMM’s general counsel, Mary Price. We were most eager to hear the positions of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Probation Office, and the federal judges. In a nutshell, this is what they said:
Federal judges support retroactivity of the drug guideline. Judge Irene Keeley spoke on behalf of the Federal Judicial Conference and said that although retroactivity could result in motions from 51,000 prisoners, that was the courts’ “burden to bear.” She also called it a “moral issue” and said it would be fundamentally unfair to categorically deny retroactivity to prisoners.
The U.S. Probation Office basically said “we know how to handle retroactivity,” and pointed to crack reductions they have processed in past years.
The Department of Justice is a different story. The DOJ representative told the Commission that the DOJ supports “limited” retroactivity. DOJ thinks only the squeakiest clean drug prisoners should benefit – ones without any priors or guns or role enhancements. While that sounds semi-logical, it isn’t. That’s what judges are for – to determine who should benefit from retroactivity. That’s why we want judges to look at every applicant’s motion and decide whether the person is too dangerous to let out of prison.
Under the Department of Justice’s proposal, only 20,000 prisoners would be eligible to benefit from retroactivity. As you can imagine, FAMM and others who testified strongly oppose that position and argued against it.
We know that criminal history frequently overstates how dangerous a person is; that testifying to your innocence at trial can trigger an obstruction of justice bump; that there is a difference between someone who points a gun at another person and someone who got a gun bump from a codefendant’s gun; and that every case is different and deserving of individual attention. That was the message FAMM’s Mary Price sent to the Commission when she testified.
The Commission needs to hear that applying the lower guideline retroactively is the kind of fundamental fairness that Americans believe in. If your car had a defect, the manufacturer wouldn’t just fix it for those who buy cars in the future; they would fix it for everyone who already owns the car. Applying the lower drug sentencing guideline is the same argument. And they need to hear about the children of prisoners who are being punished as much or more than the prisoner.
President and Founder
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
1100 H Street NW
Washington DC, 20005
As we work with countless movements we are trying to help others with this cause titled “Second Chance Alliance” for our community. Click the link to view.
Desiree’ Lee is a Convicted Felon, who shares her prison experience and hard-ships as a convicted felon with teens and parents, in effort to show teens the reflections of making bad decisions and to promote effective communication between parent and teen.
With an emphasis on the importance of decision making and cultivating students’ visions, she reveals her experiences in prison, and life after prison. By enriching students with effective decision making tools, develop respectful relationships with their parents, teachers, and authority. Her story enables them to re-experience life as an inmate and become more aware of their opportunities and working towards future success. She believes that in working directly with the community, together we can increase high school graduates and prevent teen incarcerations nationwide.
Jesus never considered failing God. He knew that worry is a form of unbelief; It is anathema to God. Now me knowing this should alter my thoughts and fears to obey the knowledge I now possess. Taking on the impossible sometimes makes you forget the reality of the truth. Peter when asked to launch out of the boat to walk on water had to be an insurmountable endeavor, but he cast off the thoughts of what he may look like to his cohorts and pressed on. God’s visions and dreams He impregnates us with are huge and they make you experience contemplation based off what is visible and obtainable. I must admit I am going through the motions teetering “anathema” with this vision of Second Chance Alliance.
We are called for a holy and noble purpose! You were put on earth to make a contribution. You were not created just to consume resources, to eat, breathe, and take up space. God designed us to make a difference with our life.
While many best-selling books offer advice on how to “get the most out of life”, that’s not the reason God made us. We were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back. This is God’s purpose for your life, and it is called your “ministry” or service.
You were created to serve God- the Bible says, in Eph. 2:10b. God has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do” (Col. 3: 23-4; Matt. 25: 34). These good deeds are your service. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God (Eph. 6:7). What God told Jeremiah “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jer. 1:5). You were placed on this planet for a special assignment.
You were saved to serve God, the Bible says. “It is He who saved us and chose us for His holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was His plan” (2 Tim. 1:9). God redeemed you so you could do His “holy work.” You are not saved by service, but you are saved for service. In God’s Kingdom you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill. This gives your life great significance and value.
It cost Jesus His own life to purchase your salvation. The Bible reminds us, “God paid a great price. So use your body to honor God” (1 Cor. 6:20). We do not serve God out of guilt or fear or even duty, but out of joy, and deep gratitude for what He has done for us. We owe Him our lives. Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured. In light of these incredible benefits, Paul concluded, “Because of God’s great mercy … offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service” (Rom. 12:1).
The apostle John taught us, “Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life” (1 John 3:14). If I have no love for others, no desire to serve others, and I am only concerned about my needs, I should question whether Christ is really in my life. A saved heart is one that wants to serve.
Another term for serving God that’s misunderstood by most people is the word “ministry.” When most people hear “ministry” they think of pastors, priests, and professional clergy, but God says every member of His family is a minister. In the Bible, the words servant and minister are synonyms, as are service and ministry. If you are a Christian you are a minister, and when you are serving, you are ministering.
When Peter’s sick mother-in-law was healed by Jesus, she instantly “stood up and began to serve Jesus” (Matt. 8:15), using her new gift of health. This is what we are to do. We are healed to help others. We are blessed to be a blessing. We are saved to serve, not to sit around and wait for heaven!
Have you ever wondered why God does not just immediately take us to heaven the moment we accept His grace? Why does He leave us in a fallen world? He leaves us here to fulfill His purposes. Once you are saved, God intends to use you for His goals. God has a ministry for you in His church and a mission for you in the world.
You are called to serve God. Growing up, you may have thought that being “called” by God was something only for missionaries, pastors, nuns, and other “full-time” church workers experienced, but the Bible says every Christian is called to service (Eph. 4:14; Rom. 1:6-7; 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 1:2,9,26; 7:17; Phil 3:14; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3).
Your call to salvation included your call to service. They are the same. Regardless of your job or career, you are called to full-time Christian service. A “non-serving Christian” is a contradiction in terms.
The Bible says “He saved us and called us to be His own people, not because of what we have done, but because of His own purpose (2 Tim 1:9). Peter added, ” You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you” (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible says, “Now you belong to Him … in order that we might be useful in the service of God” (Rom. 7:4). How much of the time are you being useful in the service of God? In some churches in China they welcome new believers by saying, “Jesus now has a new pair of eyes to see with, new ears to listen with, new hands to help with, and a new heart to love others with.”
One reason why you need to be connected to a church family is to fulfill your calling to serve other believers in practical ways. The Bible says “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). Remember, there are no insignificant ministries in the church. Some are visible and some are behind the picture, but all are valuable. Small or hidden ministries often make the biggest difference. In my home, the most important light is not the bright light in our dining room but the little night light that keeps me from stubbing my toe when I get up at night. There is no correlation between size and significance. Every ministry matters because we are all dependent on each other to function.
What happens when one part of our body fails to function? We get sick. The rest of the body suffers. Imagine if your liver decided to start living for its own self. “I’m tired! I don’t want to serve the body anymore! I want a year off just to be fed. I have to do what is best for me! Let some other part take over.” What would happen? Our body would die. Today thousands of local churches are dying because of Christians who are unwilling to serve. They sit on the sidelines as spectators, and the Body suffers.
We are commanded to serve God-if we are saved. Jesus says “Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life” (Matt. 20:28). Beloved, for Christians, service is not optional, something to be tacked onto our schedules if we can spare the time. It is the heart of the Christian life. Jesus came “to serve” and “to give” – and those two verbs should define your life on earth. Mother Theresa said, “Holy living consists in doing God’s work with a smile.”
Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we are more interested in “serve us” than service. We say, “I’m looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me,” not “I’m looking for a place to serve and be a blessing.” The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, “Who is going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet”
God wants to use you to make a difference in His world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived. If you are not involved in any service or ministry, what excuse have you been using?
“Abraham was old, Jacob was insecure, Leah was unattractive, Joseph was abused, Moses stuttered, Gideon was poor, Samson was co-dependent, Rahab was immoral, David had an affair and all kinds of family problems, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed, Jonah was reluctant, Naomi was a widow, John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least, Peter was impulsive, and hot-tempered, Martha worried a lot, the Samaritan woman had several failed marriage, Zaacchaeus was unpopular, Thomas had doubts, Paul had poor health, and Timothy was timid. That is quite a variety of misfits. But God used each of them in His service. He will use you, too, if you stop making excuses.”
Help us to be of service and we will help those we serve. Click the link to view our cause. I promise we will give back by empowering those we help to be productive tax paying God fearing people, they need community and helping hands to re-enter-grate them into a unforgiving society. We speak only what we know because God did it for May & Aaron.
Paul Owens, education coordinator for Welcome Back/Tarrant County, speaks at an orientation for new parolees.
Second Chance Alliancewill be a ministry that helps ex-offenders re-enter society beyond prison. I am reminded of Paul the apostle who was Saul on house arrest and who received a second chance from God on the road of Damascus. May and I have been given a second chance and that stands the reason for this vision.
Men just released from state prisons in Huntsville arrived by bus in Fort Worth and gathered at the Tarrant County Parole Office. But before they re-entered the free world, they heard straight talk from someone who understood what they faced.
“You’re going to have to deal with some attitudes. You need to take your pride and put it aside. You don’t have it all together. That’s why you’re sitting here. Take it from a four-time loser,” said Paul Owens, education coordinator for Welcome Back/Tarrant County, a faith-based re-entry program for ex-offenders.
The men in the small room in South Fort Worth are among the 60 new parolees a week who attend re-entry orientation programs there, said Dalonika McDonald, unit supervisor for the Fort Worth District Re-entry Center.
Successful transition from life in prison to life in free society depends on three factors, Owens told the parolees—a support group, education and a job.
“The good news is you can make a change in your life,” he said. “You don’t have to go back.”
A bleak picture
But statistics predict many will return to prison. Nationally, about 650,000 people are released from prison annually, according to the Reentry Policy Council, a project of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Two-thirds of state prisoners are rearrested within three years of release.
“Research shows that when people who are released from prison or jail return to the community, their job prospects are generally dim, their chances of finding their own place to live are bleak, and their health is typically poor,” the council’s website states.
Faith-based re-entry programs like Welcome Back/Tarrant County are committed to keeping ex-offenders from returning to prison and seeing lives transformed by the gospel, said Chaplain Jerry Cabluck, who leads the ministry.
The first 72 hours after an ex-offender is paroled often determines whether he or she re-enters society successfully or ultimately returns to prison, he noted.
A person who has been incarcerated for an extended time often returns to an urban area, without a driver’s license, with no knowledge of public transportation and with no idea where to find a job, he noted.
“When an incarcerated person is released, the first thing that happens is they encounter prostitutes, alcohol, drugs—sin and temptation right in front of them,” Cabluck said. “The Lord’s calling on my heart is to help ex-offenders learn basic life skills and provide a support network to help them resist the temptation to fall back into old self-defeating lifestyles.”
Welcome Back/Tarrant County provides newly paroled ex-offenders food, clothing and access to other services, such as health care and job-readiness training. The ministry seeks to connect the parolees with a church and mentors, as well as helping them pursue educational opportunities and find a job. The program places men and women in entry-level jobs, and at least 19 have enrolled in community college.
Mentor Care ministry video used by Welcome Back/Tarrant County.
In many ways, four-time-offender Owens is typical of the workforce Welcome Back/Tarrant County depends on, Cabluck said.
“We’re a green ministry. We recycle lives,” Cabluck said.
Ex-offenders relate well to other ex-offenders who know something about their life experiences.
• Three of four offenders released from prisons have a substance abuse problem. Only 10 percent in state prisons received treatment during incarceration.
• More than one of three reports some physical or mental disability.
• More than half—55 percent—have at least one child under age 18 who depends on the ex-offender for financial support.
• Only one-third participated in educational programs in prison, and barely more than one-fourth (27 percent) received vocational training.
Seeing lives transformed
Pastor Sie Davis understands life behind bars, life on the streets and how to bridge the two worlds.
“I was born in prison and born again in prison,” said Davis, a church planter who leads a residential ministry in Dallas to help ex-offenders make the transition to life in the free world.
His mother, who struggled with drug addiction, was incarcerated in the Goree State Farm for Women near Huntsville when she gave birth to her son in 1955.
“They didn’t know what to do with me. I was in the prison nursery nearly three months before my aunt came to get me,” he said. “I tell people I was the youngest parolee in the state of Texas.”
But it marked neither his final release, nor his last time in prison.
“I spent most of my life on the streets of South Dallas and 17 and one-half years in prison. It was on the installment plan. I was in prison four times,” he said. On the streets, he worked for his stepfather—Chicago Red, an organized crime figure known as “the Godfather of South Dallas.” On two occasions when he was imprisoned, he shared a cell with his biological father, who was doing time for drug-related charges, pimping and pandering.
During one of his periods of incarceration, Davis made a profession of faith in Christ. After his conversion, several prominent leaders in prison ministry helped mentor and disciple him. Even so, within six months after his release, he returned to prison on a drug charge.
Christian life in the free world
Many ex-offenders find living as a Christian in the free world after release more difficult, in many respects, than living as a Christian in prison, Davis said.
“People say, ‘Church is church.’ Church ain’t just church. It’s different in prison than it is out here,” he said.
African-Americans, Hispanics and Anglos worship alongside each other in prison—a rarity in the free world, he noted. Practices common in most churches—such as passing the plate to collect an offering—are foreign to men and women whose first worship experiences are in prison chapels.
Furthermore, offenders who first become acquainted with free-world churches through prison ministry volunteers may develop an unrealistic expectation of what it means to live as a Christian outside prison.
“They put on a show like they’re always happy, get along with everybody and have no problems. Come out, and you see they have struggles like everybody. There’s a lot of illusion that’s taken as fact,” Davis said.
Making the transition
Ex-offenders need help with employment, transportation and other services. But mostly, Davis said, they need help making the mental transition to life outside a penal institution.
“There’s a transition in the mind when a person goes into prison—moving from this big old world to go live in a little cell and never go more than two or three miles for years at a time,” he said.
Likewise, release demands mental transition. He recalled one ex-offender who constantly had to be reminded after release to zip his trousers.
“There are no zippers on prison uniforms,” he explained. “Things we take for granted, they don’t understand.”
In the last decade, Davis has devoted his life to helping ex-offenders. He directs the statewide Crossroads Unwindingministry and its 12-step substance-abuse-recovery “Overcomers”program. He leads a residential program for recently released ex-convicts, with a location for men in South Dallas and a women’s facility in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas.
He is pastor of the Church of the Called Out Ones, and he works as a church-planting consultant with the Baptist General Convention of Texas to help start other congregations for ex-offenders. He also preaches in prisons around the state, sharing his testimony and seeking to prepare prisoners for life outside penal institutions.
Davis believes ex-offenders need to worship with other ex-offenders in the crucial months immediately after their release, but he also hopes mature Christians from traditional churches will serve as mentors to spend time with newly released prisoners, listen to them and help them grow spiritually.
“It’s tough. Ex-offenders have to behave over and above everybody else. They have to strive a little harder than anybody else. They come out filled with fear. They know a lot is coming against them,” he said.
“At the same time, the church has fear. We have to teach churches how to accept ex-offenders. …We need to educate the church. There’s a mission field right here—people who are getting out of prison every day.” Please click the insignia below to view our project. We are the hands, feet and body of Christ. Please help us to help our community. We have a plethora of education and holy spirit indwelling related to this matter.
False thinking and false ideologies, dressed in the most pleasing forms, quietly – almost without our knowing it – seek to reduce our moral defenses and to captivate our minds. They entice with bright promises of security, cradle-to-grave guarantees of many kinds.
I have been impregnated with this vision to be apart of the struggle to reduce recidivism. Trying to gain leverage from the various circles of churches and people has been another area of agreement I have yet to convince them is of the greatest importance. While there is the reality of thinking that suggest this isn’t my problem and I am not interested in aiding anyone that made bad choices that propelled them to become a endangered species.
An exploding prison population is a concern not only for the criminal justice system, but, also for the communities where ex-offenders live after their release. Branded with the stigma of incarceration, ex-offenders struggle to find housing jobs and acceptance. Half of the ex-offenders released from prison in California are located in the harshest areas of depravity in every area of California .
At least 30,000 or more children have previously experienced or are currently living through often debilitating emotional, economic, and social consequences stemming from the arrest, detention and/or imprisonment of a parent. Second Chance Alliance (May & Aaron partners) seeks to mitigate these negative effects by assisting individuals and families whose lives are roiled by incarceration. We will advocate on their behalf, promoting innovative programs that demonstrate that over-reliance on imprisonment is a costly and counterproductive approach that fails to recognize or support the basic capacity of people to transform their lives.
May And Aaron( Second Chance Alliance) is promoting independent living for ex-offenders. It means taking risks and being allowed to succeed and fail on your own terms. It means participating in community life and pursuing activities of your own choosing. Independent living is knowing what choices are available, selecting what is right for you, and taking responsibility for your own actions. These best practices are what we used to overcome our position in life as disenfranchised educated individuals.
For people with disabilities affecting their ability to make complicated decisions or pursue complex activities, independent living means being as self-sufficient as possible. It means being able to exercise the greatest degree of choice in where you live, with whom you live, how to live, where you work, with whom you work and how to use your time.
For many years ex-offender strategies have been based largely on theoretical or ideological assumptions about “what works,” in the absence of objective, scientific evidence. Indeed, so many ill-conceived strategies were so often found to be ineffective, that many ex-offender prevention critics popularized the cynical view that “nothing works,” such a pessimistic view is no longer tenable. We are proof that these principles and core values work.
The mission of the Second Chance Alliance program is to serve the welfare of young adults and adults and their families within a sound frame work of public safety. Second Chance Alliance and its partners that we are still praying for are committed to providing the guidance, structure and services needed by every ex-offender under our supervision.
Through the partnership of the Courts of California and the District’s Police, we hope to:
1. Identify the needs of offenders regarding education, employment, parenting, job training and social skills:
2. Link offenders with caring and supportive adults capable of meeting those needs:
3. Offer the courts additional sanctions to deal more effectively with the issues of drugs and violence.
4. Teach offenders about the life-long consequences of violent and dangerous actions, instill a sense of empathy between offenders and those who have suffered the effects of violence.
5. Demonstrate the need for alternatives to violent or criminal behaviors, provide support and recognition to victims and their families and educate the community on the debilitating effects of violence.
Second Chance Alliance is going to be a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, founded in 2013 and hope to be incorporated in 2014. Our mission is to aid the development of the holistic person by providing supportive services designed to enhance the physical, mental, spiritual, nutritional, social and educational well-being of families. The services provided will improve the quality of life in the community and promote healthier and happier individuals.
I thank you in advance for reviewing our request/supporting literature and anxiously look forward to establishing an ongoing collaboration with you. None of this will come to pass without you the partners we are praying will see the attractiveness of such a company.
LAND OF SECOND CHANCES?
Roughly one in five people in America have a criminal history.’ Over seven million people are under the active supervision of the criminal justice system. Every year 650,000 people, enough to populate the City of Los Angelas, come out of jail or prison to face the challenge of re-entering society in a healthy, meaningful and productive capacity.There has been a five-fold increase in the number of incarcerated individuals over the last thirty years. Two parallel trends, beginning in the 1970s and continuing today, account for this increase. First, rehabilitation as a penological goal was “publicly and politically discredited. Second, a stronger commitment to incarceration led to the rapid construction of new prisons and a move from indeterminate to determinate sentencing.’ Incarceration has grown from a penological tool applied only to “the most violent and incorrigible offenders” to one routinely affecting many persons.” Incarceration and other contact with the criminal justice system is no longer abnormal. Though it has become much more common, having a criminal history continues to mark individuals for treatment as second-class social, political and economic citizens. Collateral civil consequences of conviction, generated by structural inequality, social stigma, criminal and civil penalties, and improved information technology, combine to create ex-offenders’ second-class citizenship.
While serving time is not necessary to place individuals into the ex-offender class, the incarceration experience itself can profoundly dis-empower inmates beyond their actual sentence and warrants elaboration. To begin, many inmates enter correctional facilities with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems that often go untreated during incarceration.
The conditions of incarceration-inmate violence, sexual predation, correctional discipline and abuse, and enforced solitude in higher security facilities or during administrative detention-can further degrade inmates’ mental health.
Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and tuberculosis also thrive in correctional facilities, infecting inmates at rates far higher
than the general population, and limiting ex-offenders’ ability to transition into society upon release. In addition to their damaging mental and physical health effects, penal facilities grossly fail to prepare inmates for re-entering society as stable
and productive citizens. Upon release, it is not unusual for a formerly incarcerated person to possess nothing more than a bus ticket and $125.8 The counties to which corrections departments assign inmates for parole are often host to impoverished communities offering little opportunity for gainful employment.
These conditions would be ones to which even the well-educated and well-connected would have difficulty adapting. Affluent college graduates would face awkward questions about unexplained gaps in their resumes. Time away from work would also force affluent college graduates to lose a step or two due to atrophied job skills and industry developments.
Ex-offenders, however, are rarely affluent college graduates. The latest comprehensive survey of state inmates, conducted in 1991, revealed that 65% of state prison inmates had not completed high school, and 53% earned less than $10,000 during the year prior to incarceration.” According to a study of California inmates, 50% are functionally illiterate and prior to incarceration 25% were unemployed. Furthermore, the prison vocational training programs that might give inmates a decent chance at securing
lawful employment have been cut back severely as more and more correctional resources have been diverted to expansion and construction of new jails and prisons.
Second Chance Alliance Development Corporation is going to be a not-for-profit organization that accepts donations which are tax-deductible. Contact us today and help us develop our community and educate our citizens. We will forever be grateful and you will be able to say you changed the world for the better. Are you mean because you have money? Am I mean because I need your help? The Ted talks video revealed some interesting concepts. Click the GofundMe insignia to view our vision of Second Chance Alliance development Corporation.
Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he’s met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.
You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.
America’s addiction to mass incarceration has impacted our society in vastly negative and destructive ways, especially the impact it has on the family. It is obvious that something is not working. But one important fact to ponder is: 95 percent of incarcerated individuals in California will eventually leave prison and come back home.
For many, returning home will be a defining moment in their lives, with many hoping for a new beginning, wanting to turn their lives around. One would think that the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” extends to all American citizens. Not exactly. Far too many ex-offenders are still treated as second-class citizens who are made to feel alienated in their own community. Many are excluded from various memberships and volunteer activities due to their arrest or conviction history.
My motivation for addressing this issue is driven by fairness and my passion to help ex-offenders forge new identities. Should we be more supportive of ex-offenders? Absolutely! We should be doing much more in our community to help former offenders transition and re-enter society, offering services to help with employment, housing and education. We need to remove barriers to productive citizenship while working to support the successful integration of persons with criminal records. I believe all people should have a chance to succeed at establishing a regular job life.
Even though the vast majority of the prison population in United States will eventually come back home, about 50 percent of ex-offenders will re-offend and return to prison for new crimes. And that’s where we, as a community, need to intervene and open up opportunities for people with past convictions, thus creating new avenues for employment, housing and education. Employment has been shown to be the paramount factor in reducing, recidivism, returning to prison.
For those former offenders who are serious about a productive future, coming home is a defining moment, with many standing ready to prove themselves. I believe everyone deserves a fair chance, and we need to provide assistance for those who are actively seeking ways to improve their lives. Once they are given the opportunity, then let them rise or fall on their own merit. Our community’s response should not be to erect barriers that impede their growth and prosperity.
But that fair chance is too often impeded by eight simple words: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” This is the most dreaded question found on many job applications, making it harder for ex-offenders to find a job. Ironically, this same question makes it more likely that some will re-offend and return to prison, thus becoming a $27,000 a year burden for society again. Something seems terribly wrong about this when offering employment to ex-offenders can help make them contributing citizens and subsequently lowering cost to taxpayers.
Just maybe it’s time we allow ex-offenders the opportunity to display and demonstrate their qualifications in the hiring process before being asked about their past criminal convictions, at least to some degree. Obviously, one size does not fit all.
Let’s not forget “the welfare of one group can only be maintained through assuring the welfare of another.”
I am speaking to myself this morning about overcoming the harassing voices of failure, embarrassment and fear. When we launched our public campaign for building Second Chance Alliance I felt so confident about it and the timing to put it forth in the social networks we have. We started a holistic approach to self improvement with the foundation of spirituality fasting and prayer. The voices of fear and doubt got loader. They say the people are laughing at this presentation and shortly after that I did get a verbal attack from within my circle of people.
Well today I am moving forward with my resolve to be successful and happy without naysayers and outside acceptance. May and I believe in what we are doing and the passion to perform this insurmountable vision is our challenge. We are getting more motivation from this book titled:
Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life!!!
While I don’t consider myself a Spartan (mostly because I have never done an obstacle race in my life nor am I professional athlete by any means), Spartan philosophy would argue that I am indeed a Spartan based on some principles that apply to all of us who are on a journey to succeed in health and happiness. People who have made a decision to go public about what makes a difference to them. People who desire to be happy and in the pursuit of God’s Divine will for their life.
Finding the will to succeed: The first half of a race you run with your legs; the second half you run with your heart, right? Spartan up! will help you turn your pain into an outboard motor to drive you forward.
Tossing your cookies: Through the Cookie Test, Spartan Up! will teach you to overcome the need for immediate gratification and help you prosper long-term
Getting Spartan fit: This isn’t necessarily an all-out-run-until-you-pass-out-guide, but learning to train outside the gym for strength, endurance and flexibility for your entire body (a little burpee never hurt anyone). Spartan Up! will teach you what Survival of the Fittest means for you.
Moving mountains: Whether metaphorical mountains or the kind that come with a tough workout, Spartan Up! will show you how what you think of as your limitations can actually be a mere starting point for transformation. And who hasn’t been there, right?
conquer your greatest obstacle—your will
• embrace your greatest friend—discipline
• make limitations vanish and establish a new normal
• achieve the ultimate: obstacle immunity
Other events breed sheep; Spartan Race breeds wolves. Filled with unforgettable stories of Spartan racers as well as hard-won truths learned along the course, Spartan Up! will help anyone reach their full potential—in life, business, relationships, indeed anything one sets out to do. It is the blueprint that takes you right past Go to your finish line.
My wife and I will cultivate the “Kokoro” (warrior) spirit, so we are unbeatable in life. Having God in the forefront while developing that Caleb warrior “Kokoro” tenacity will keep us forging the many obstacles we have yet to encounter with this project. Speaking life to yourself from all types of motivational resources fortifies our walls.
Having been trained to succeed by the most elite team of the military I should know how to resist the disposition of failure and doubt. I am going to use all I have at my disposal to achieve excellence in becoming a better person for my community and self.
Forge an unbeatable mind;
Get the best functional workout available with the least amount of equipment;
Adopt a level-headed approach to nutrition;
Gain exceptional overall functional strength and stamina;
Improve work capacity and durability.
What is black empowerment when it seems to benefit not the vast majority but an elite that tends to be recycled?
“With realization of one’s own potential & self confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” ~Dalai Lama
Tap into the confidence you were born with.
I feel it’s something that is always there, something you’re born with that gets lost along the way, or stolen by others. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find it again. ~Amy Lee Tempest
You didn’t come out of the womb unsure of your cry or insecure about your large umbilical cord. You came out blissfully unaware of external judgment, concerned only with your own experience and needs. I’m not suggesting that you should be oblivious to other people. It’s just that it may help to remember confidence was your original nature before time started chiseling away at it.
Once you developed a sense of self-awareness, you started forming doubts and insecurities about how other people saw you. You learned to crave praise and avoid criticism, and maybe you started getting down on yourself if you got more of the latter than the former.
When you start feeling unsure of yourself remember: we were all born with confidence, and we can all get it back if we learn to silence the thoughts that threaten it. This post is doing just that for us this morning. We have found new resolve amen!!!.
This will come to past-!!!!!
Confidence comes from success…But confidence also combines another quality because you can be successful, yet lack confidence. It requires a mental attitude shift to an expectation of success. And this alone, can bring about more success, reinforcing the confidence. It spirals from there. ~Jason Hihn
It might seem strange to say expect success since you can’t predict the future, but don’t we do the alternative all the time? Have you ever gone into a stressful situation assuming the worst—that something would go wrong?
Conventional wisdom suggests it’s smart to expect the worst because you won’t be disappointed if you fail and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you succeed. But research suggests this isn’t universally true. Pessimism can undermine your performance creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Find the successes in every day and you’ll notice over time that they increase.
Head your course toward the light and while on this journey your perception will be changed into seeing yourself as light to a dark world. Click the link to see what your perspective is.
It can be practiced—and with that practice you will get better. ~Jacqueline Wolven
Like anything else in life, your confidence will improve with practice. A great opportunity to do this is when you meet new people. Just like if you were the new kid in school, they have no idea who you are—meaning you have an opportunity to show them.
As you shake their hand, introduce yourself, and listen to them speak, watch your internal monologue. If you start doubting yourself in your head, replace your thoughts with more confident ones. Ask yourself what a confident person would do and then try to emulate that.
Watch your posture and your tone. Hunching and mumbling will make you feel and look less confident, so stand up and speak slowly and clearly.
People are more apt to see you how you want to be seen if they suspect you see yourself that way.
You may have confidence in some areas and not in others; that’s how it works for most of us. Draw from those areas where you’re self assured.
If you feel inadequate in professional situations, recall how it feels physically when you’re confident in relationships. If you’re insecure in love, access what you feel when you’re comfortable around friends.
Above all, remember you are capable and worthy—just as much as anyone else, regardless of what you’ve achieved, regardless of what mistakes you’ve made. Knowing that intellectually is the first step to believing it in your heart. Believing it is the key to living it. And living it is the key to reaching your potential.
We gave it our all with the knowledge we had at our disposal. The momentum we need to get started is not taking place with the campaign. We want to keep it running for 3 more weeks. If we haven’t reached our goal of at least getting our applications 501c3 & 501c5 completed we will return the money already donated to those who have sown into it’s coffers.
My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
Everyone wants to be a success. I have never met anyone who purposely set out to be a failure. Undoubtedly, this is why so much has been written on the topic “How to be a Success” and why these books are so popular. I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” The simple reality is that failure is one of those ugly realities of life—a common experience to all of us to some degree. Thus, the ability to handle failure in its various forms and degrees is a vital part of the spiritual life and another sign of maturity. A careful study of the Bible reveals that most of the great figures of Scripture experienced failure at one time or another, yet those failures did not keep them from effective service for God. As a partial list, this was true of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, and Peter. Though they failed at some point, and often in significant ways, they not only recovered from their failure, but they used it as a tool of growth—they learned from their failure, confessed it to God, and were often able to be used in even mightier ways.
The manner in which a leader meets his own failure will have a significant effect on his future ministry. One would have been justified in concluding that Peter’s failure in the judgment hall had forever slammed the door on leadership in Christ’s kingdom. Instead, the depth of his repentance and the reality of his love for Christ reopened the door of opportunity to a yet wider sphere of service. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
A study of Bible characters reveals that most of those who made history were men who failed at some point, and some of them drastically, but who refused to continue lying in the dust. Their very failure and repentance secured for them a more ample conception of the grace of God. They learned to know Him as the God of the second chance to His children who had failed Him—and third chance, too.
The historian Froude wrote, “The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a singular and peculiar trial. Peter the apostle, through forewarned, thrice denied his Master on the first alarm of danger; yet that Master, who knew his nature in its strength and in its infirmity, chose him.
Understanding the amazing grace of God and His incredible forgiveness and acceptance through Christ, a mature Christian is one who has grasped the truth that his or her failure is not the end of an effective life with and for the Lord. While there may be consequences to live with (as with David) and serious issues to work through, the mature believer rests in the grace of God and uses the failure as a backdoor to success through growth and understanding.
A favorite hymn for many Christians is “Victory in Jesus” because there IS victory in the Savior. In fact, Christians are super-conquerors in Christ. They are those who have, as translated by the NET Bible, “complete victory” (Rom. 8:37). Significantly, this statement by Paul is made in a context that considers the reality of the varied onslaughts of life which must include failure.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or death? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35-39).
In view of this, we often speak of the victorious Christian life. But the truth is there is a lot of defeat in the Christian’s life because none of us will always and perfectly appropriate the victory over sin that Christ has accomplished for us by the cross. Further, the amount of deliverance we each experience is a matter of growth; so on the road to maturity and even after reaching a certain degree of spiritual maturity, Christians will sin and fail—sometimes seriously so. We don’t like to talk about it or admit it, but there is a lot of failure. Failure is a fact of life for the Christian community, but God’s grace is more than adequate to overcome any situation. The mature Christian is one who has learned to apply God’s grace remedy for failure.
The Prevailing Attitude About Failure
Presently the bookstores are full of popular “How to Succeed Manuals” on every conceivable subject. And why is that? Because we are so concerned with the glory of God? I would hope so, but there are also other reasons. Too often, it is because we look at failure with eyes of scorn. We view failure as a Waterloo. We see it as the plague of plagues and as the worst thing that could happen to us.
As a result, the fear of failure has many people in neutral or paralyzed or playing the game of cover up. We consciously or subconsciously ignore our sins and failures because to admit them is to admit failure and that’s a plague worse than death. People often refuse to tackle a job or take on a responsibility for fear of failure. People believe if they fail they are no good. They think failure means you are a bad person and you are a failure. But, as previously mentioned, most of the great leaders in Scripture at some time in their careers experienced some sort of failure. For instance:
When Abraham should have stayed in the land and trusted the Lord, he fled to Egypt because of the drought. And this was by no means the last of Abraham’s failures.
Moses, in trying to help his people, ran ahead of the Lord and killed the Egyptian. Later, against the command of God, he struck the rock in his anger.
When David should have been out in the field of battle, he stayed home and committed adultery with Bathsheba and then plotted the murder of her husband.
Peter, in spite of his self-confidence and his great boast, denied the Lord, as did the rest of the disciples who fled before the evening our Lord’s arrest was over.
There is a fundamental principle here. Sometimes God must engineer failure in us before He can bring about success with us. Our failures are often rungs on the ladder of growth—if we will learn from our mistakes rather than grovel in the dirt.
This is not to make excuses for sin or to place a premium on mistakes or failure. This does not mean that a person must fail before they can be a success, but our failures, whether in the form of rebellion or just foolish blunders, can become tools of learning and stepping stones to success. The point is, we should never allow our fear of failure to paralyze us from tackling a job or trying something that challenges our comfort zone.
Nor should we allow past failures to keep us down or keep us from recovering and moving on in the service of the Savior. This means we should never allow failure to make us think we are a failure or that we can never change or that we can never again count for the Lord or that God can’t do anything with us because we have failed in some way. The Bible says we are all sinners and prone to failure, but in Christ we can become overcomers.
After the horrible carnage and Confederate retreat at Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee wrote this to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy: “We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.
Mature Attitudes About Failure and Success
(1) Mature believers understand that a Christian can become successful in spite of failure because of God’s incredible grace and forgiveness. We may have to live with the results of some of our failures or sins, yet God is free to continue to love us in Christ and use us for His purposes because of grace (cf. John 21 & Peter).
(2) The mature believer seeks to use failures as lessons for growth and change. Mature believers will act on two principles: (a) They understand that failures remind us of the consequences of our decisions. We reap what we sow. This is the law of harvest. Failures remind us of what can happen, they can make us careful, but they should not be allowed to paralyze us. (b) The mature believer recognizes that our failures show us what we should and should not do; they become lessons in where we went wrong and why. You know what they say, “hindsight is 10/20.” It can help us avoid the same mistake twice if we will learn from history.
Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things. December 1914 he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67.
With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken?
The inventor’s 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. “My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “He was 67—no longer a young man—and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ‘Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ‘Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’”
The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.161
(3) When mature believers fail they:
Acknowledge their failures and refuse to hide behind any lame duck excuses.
Confess any sin to God when sin is involved is involved in the failure.
Study or examine what happened so they can learn from the failure.
Being assured of God’s forgiveness, we are to put our failures behind us, count on and rest in His forgiveness, and refuse to use them as an excuse for morbid introspection, pessimism, self pity, depression, and fear of moving on for the Lord.
(4) Mature believers grow through failure. They will know and act on certain truths:
We are accepted in the Lord on the basis of Grace, not our performance.
We are human and, as a result, we are not now perfect nor will we ever be.
God still has a plan for our lives. God is not through with us yet, and we need to get on with His plan.
(5) The mature believer will be one who understands there are different kinds of failure.
There are those who have genuinely failed according to the principles of Scripture. If we fail to know why we believe what we believe and then fail to give an adequate reason to those who ask for a reason for our hope (1 Pet. 3:15), then we have failed in our responsibility to witness. That can become a stepping stone to getting equipped and to becoming bold in our witness, but at that point there was failure.
There is a false guilt of failure because of a wrong view of success. Many missionaries have labored faithfully in foreign countries without much success by way of converts, but that by no means indicates they are failures. A biblical illustration is Isaiah. Right from the beginning, after seeing the Lord high and lifted up, after confessing his own sin and that of his nation, and after saying, “Here am I, send me,” God sent him to preach to a people who would not listen and told him so beforehand (see Isa. 6:8-10). In the eyes of people, he was a failure, but not in God’s eyes.
There is another class of failure; those who mistakenly believe they are successes! These believers may earn an honest living and be fine supporters of the church. They unconsciously (or sometimes all too consciously) consider themselves examples for others to follow. Yet they do not realize that from God’s perspective they are failures. One man put it this way: “I climbed the ladder of success only to discover that my ladder was leaning against the wrong wall!”
Heaven will be filled with surprises! Many “successful” Christians will be nobodies, and some whose lives were strewn with the wreckage of one failure after another will be great in the kingdom.
(6) The mature believer is one who understands the importance of choosing the right standard of measurement to determine success and failure. There are a number common worldly beliefs about success that people apply to themselves and others, but they are all distortions of the truth.
Most of these are based on some form of faulty comparison. To those who were guilty of this kind of foolishness, the apostle Paul wrote: “For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12, emphasis mine)
Fundamentally, this is the distortion of comparing ourselves with others. We are all to do our best according the abilities God has given us and we are right in using others as models of Christ-like character. Paul told the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). But this is not the same as when we compare ourselves with other people from the standpoint of their gifts, abilities, bank accounts, possessions, position and other such standards and then attempt to determine our success or failure or that of someone else based on such comparisons.
When in seminary, we wrote our test answers in a little booklet called “The Blue Book.” After the tests were graded, they were placed in our mail boxes in the seminary mail room. Naturally, we all anticipated or dreaded, as the case might be, looking through the little glass door and seeing that little Blue Book stuffed in our box. The tendency for students was to inquire about the grades of their classmates or to loudly declare the grade they received, “Great, I made 100!” Many students refused to be involved in this game and kept their grades to themselves because of the foolish comparisons that sometimes occurred. Some students, regardless of how hard they studied, actually began to see themselves as failures because they were not able to make the high grades of some of their class mates and questioned whether or not they should even stay in seminary.
Other people determine their level of success by their bank accounts as measured by the luxury items they are able to purchase—a huge home, furniture, automobiles, boats, etc. Lutzer writes,
If money is a basis of judging success or failure, it is obvious that Jesus Christ was a failure! Consider this: when He had to pay taxes, He asked Peter to find a coin in a fish’s mouth. Why? He didn’t have a coin of His own.
Christ was born under the shelter of a stable’s roof. Most of us would be appalled if our children could not be born in a modern hospital! When He died, the soldiers cast lots for His garment. That was all He owned of this world’s goods. He died naked, in the presence of gawking bystanders.
Was Christ a failure? Yes, if money is the standard by which He is judged. The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man did not have a place He could call home.
Of course, earning money (and even saving some) is both legitimate and necessary. But the amount we earn is not a barometer of God’s blessing.
And I might add, lots of money and things are never an evidence of success in God’s eyes. Many who are wealthy are failures from God’s viewpoint. The point, then, is the absence or presence of money is not in itself proof of success or failure.
The comparison game reaches out to almost every area of life. It may involve comparing friends, i.e., name-dropping to suggest that one is successful because he runs with the right people. Or it may involve believers comparing the size of their church, the size of their mission’s budget, the number of books one has had published, etc. None of these things are in themselves a proof of success in God’s eyes. A classic illustration is when Moses struck the rock when God had told him to only speak to the rock.
Water flowed. The people were jubilant! Was Moses a success? Yes, in the eyes of men. No, in the eyes of God! His disobedience brought water, but it also brought punishment.
Results in themselves are not a proof that God is pleased. It is possible to win attendance contests and disseminate the Gospel and see results; all these activities can be done without pleasing God! Such results can be achieved by deceptive gimmicks or for purely personal satisfaction. It is not enough to do God’s work; it must be done in his way and for His credit.
There are many causes for failure. Some are the product of specific acts of sin, but some are not. Some are simply the product of ignorance or of circumstances beyond our control like a drop in the stock market or extreme weather conditions (drought, floods), which can cause a farmer or rancher to lose his shirt, as they say. Naturally, this kind of failure, as serious and painful as it is, is not as serious as spiritual failure like, for instance, the sin of David. While David did recover from his sin and was still used of God afterward, there were lifelong consequences in his life and in the lives of others.
Whether caused by sin or by the many things that can happen beyond our control, all failure teaches us the important truth of just how desperately we need God and His mercy and grace in our lives. Sometimes our failures are mirrors of reproof, but always they can become tools for growth and deeper levels of trust and commitment to God if we will respond to them as such rather than rebel and become hardened through the difficulty. “God is adequate for all kinds of failure. Some failures may not be our fault, but they serve as reminders that we must live with eternal priorities in mind. Other failures are directly the result of our own sinful choices.”
Regardless, God has made more than adequate provision for us in Christ and His finished work on the cross, which is the sole basis of our relationship and forgiveness with God and our means of a meaningful and productive life with Him.
This slideshow shows God’s power. May and I have been given everything over again from the drapes to pictures to couches and tables and cars. We have been blessed with community and several church families that love us and we love them. Our family who once had written us off has been restored as well. But the vision of acquiring a business that will help us perform the ministry of reconciliation for a targeted species that we ourselves know all too well is what “Second Chance Alliance” is all about. The building is in sight and the hope is flourishing, however the funds are still so far out of reach. Please pray with us and believe for us that this vision will one day soon become a reality in-order for us to perform our mission statement- “Empowering Felons to rebuild themselves and their lives” …as we have . Click the link below to view our passion and dream.
While nobody enjoys trials, in God’s loving hands, they are tools for our improvement.
When it comes to adversity, none of us are immune. We have all experienced the heartache, pressure, and anguish caused by hardships. Whatever form our trials may take—whether sickness, financial problems, animosity, rejection, bitterness, or anger—we tend to consider them “setbacks” in our life. God, however, has a different perspective. He views adversity as a way, not to hinder the saints, but to advance their spiritual growth.
When facing tribulation, we often wonder where it came from. Is this my own doing? Is this from Satan? Or is this from you, Lord? Regardless of the specific source, ultimately all adversity that touches a believer’s life must first be sifted through the permissive will of God. That is not to say everything coming your way is the Lord’s will. But God allows everything that occurs because He sees how even adversity will fit into His wonderful purpose for your life. ( Romans 8:28)
According to Isaiah 55:8-9, God’s thoughts are higher than ours, so we cannot expect to understand all that He is doing. He oftentimes takes the most painful experiences of adversity and uses them to prepare us for what lies ahead. God wants us to regard our struggles the way He does so that we won’t be disillusioned. Therefore, far more important than determining the source of our adversity is learning how to respond properly.
Consider Joseph, one of the very few people in the Bible about whom there is nothing negative, but whose life is characterized only by adversity. It is interesting to note Scripture says that God was prospering Joseph in the midst of his affliction—even in a foreign jail! Every trial was part of God’s equipping Joseph to become the savior of Egypt and also the savior of his own family, who would later journey there to avoid starvation.
The Bible reveals a number of reasons that the Lord allows difficulties in our life. As we begin to comprehend His purposes, we can learn to react in ways that will strengthen rather than discourage us.
ONE OF GOD’S PRIMARY PURPOSES FOR ADVERSITY IS TO GET OUR ATTENTION.
He knows when we are frozen in anger and bitterness or set on doing something our own way. He may allow adversity to sweep us off our feet. When we stand before God, stripped of our pride and self-reliance, He has our complete attention.
Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, had to learn a lesson this way. Proud and egotistical, he was doing everything he could to rid this earth of Christians. Then God struck him blind. Lying on the Damascus Road, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5) God had totally captured his attention. At the time, it must have seemed like a screeching halt to his life’s work; in actuality, it was the beginning of an extraordinary preaching career.
ANOTHER WAY GOD USES ADVERSITY IS TO REMIND US OF HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US.
Let me ask you: If you moved out of God’s will into sin, and He just let you go that way, would that be an expression of love? Of course not. He loves us too much to let us get by with disobedience.
The Bible realistically agrees that “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful!” (Hebrews 12:11 nlt) We can all say “Amen!” to that. But just as we lovingly discipline our children to protect them from developing harmful patterns in thinking and behavior, so our heavenly Father trains us by discipline in order to bring about “a quiet harvest of right living.”
Hebrews 12:5-6 says: “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children” (nlt). If you are without discipline—which is correction in love—you are an illegitimate child, and not one of God’s own. So if you are experiencing adversity, allow it to be a reminder of God’s great love for you.
A THIRD REASON GOD SENDS ADVERSITY IS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION.
When God allowed Satan to buffet Paul with a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), the apostle prayed three times for its removal. In the process, Paul certainly must have searched his own heart, asking the Lord, “Is there sin in my life? Is my attitude right?” When we encounter adversity, we would also do well to ask, Am I in God’s will, doing what He wants me to do?
Perhaps you’ve done that and confessed any known sin, but the adversity persists. God deals not only with acts of transgression, but also with pre-programmed attitudes from youth. For many believers, it isn’t a matter of overt sin or not loving the Lord, but something from the past that may be stunting spiritual growth.
To deal with “roots” —like self-esteem, attitudes toward others, and even misguided opinions about God’s capabilities—the Lord sends adversity intensely enough to cause deeper examination than usual. He wants us to ask: What fears, frustrations, and suffering from childhood are still affecting or driving me? Is an old perfectionism or grudge destroying me? Did a comment cause feelings of rejection or worthlessness? An attitude lying dormant for years may be hindering progress. Recognize in your adversity God’s loving desire to help you reach your spiritual potential.
A FOURTH PURPOSE GOD HAS FOR ADVERSITY IS TO TEACH US TO HATE EVIL AS HE DOES.
Satan sells his sin program by promising pleasure, freedom, and fulfillment, but he doesn’t tell you about the “interest charges.” The truth is, “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7)—and he reaps later than he sows and more than he sows.
People once trapped by drugs, alcohol, or sexual indulgence, but now freed by God, will speak of their hatred for the sin. Because of the suffering, helplessness, and hopelessness they experienced, they have learned to despise the very thing they at one time desired. David agrees: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray” (Ps. 119:67). If we could learn to anticipate sin’s ongoing and future consequences, our lives would be far more holy and healthy.
As parents, we need to level with our children about our failures. There is no such thing as a perfect father or mother, and pretending to have no faults is detrimental. Our children need to understand that God allows adversity for their protection. We should be candid about our weaknesses and clearly explain sin’s effect, Satan’s desires, and God’s solution. Warn them by explaining how you responded to sin in your own life, and how they can avoid it in theirs. Your children will be blessed by your honesty.
A FIFTH REASON GOD SENDS ADVERSITY IS TO CAUSE US TO RE-EVALUATE OUR PRIORITIES.
We can become workaholics, exhausting ourselves and ignoring our children until it’s too late. Or, we can get so enamored of material things that we neglect the spiritual. So what happens? The Lord will do away with the things that dislocate our priorities.
God doesn’t initiate family breakdowns, but when He sees us neglecting His precious gifts or focusing in the wrong place, He may send a “breeze” of adversity as a reminder to check priorities. If the warning goes unheeded, however, a hurricane may be in the forecast. Then, if we persist in ignoring the intensifying storm, it’s as if He withdraws His hand and lets the adversity run its full course.
For example, many women work hard to balance career and motherhood. There are inevitable points of conflict between the two, which can serve as cautionary breezes. But if priorities are misaligned, and moving up the corporate ladder becomes the exclusive goal, a whirlwind of adversity may be approaching. Don’t choose the world over your family, or they may decide to let you have your way.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT PURPOSE FOR ADVERSITY IS TO TEST OUR WORKS.
God already knew the outcome when He told Abraham to sacrifice his son. His purpose was not to discover what the response would be, but to show the patriarch where he was in his obedient walk of faith. When Abraham came off that mountain, not only did he know more about God than ever before; he also understood more about himself spiritually.
Besides that, Isaac, more than likely, never forgot the experience! Children often remember things we do not expect—things far deeper than the externals. More than the sight of that pointed dagger, Isaac remembered that he had a father whose obedience to God knew no boundaries.
So when God sends adversity to test us, does our family watch us buckle, or do they see us standing strong in faith, trusting the Lord to teach us, strengthen us, and bring good from the circumstance? Remember that our response carries a weighty influence for good or for evil in the lives of those who love us most.
As you face hardship, keep in mind that its intensity will not exceed your capacity to bear it. God NEVER sends adversity into your life to break your spirit or destroy you. If you respond improperly, you can destroy yourself, but God’s purpose is always to bless, to strengthen, to encourage, and to bring you to the maximum of your potential.
Thousands of British servicemen and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are abusing alcohol to block out the horrors of war.
An authoritative study has found that as many as 33,000 members of the Armed Forces – around one in five – are drinking harmful levels of alcohol.
Troops who are deployed in direct combat on the battlefield had a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with seven per cent reporting problems compared with four per cent among all regulars.
Study found as many as 33,000 former soldiers had drunk harmful amounts
Violence among service personnel remains a ‘concern’
Troops deployed into direct combat have high risk of getting PTSD
Violence among service personnel remains a ‘concern’ with one in seven attacking someone in an explosive rage after returning from the frontline – often wives or partners.
And the report found reservists were more likely to experience mental health problems after coming home from a warzone.
Violence among service personnel remains a ‘concern’ with one in seven attacking someone in an explosive rage after returning from the frontline – often wives or partners.
And the report found reservists were more likely to experience mental health problems after coming home from a warzone.
‘It remains to be seen what the longer-term psychological impact of serving in Iraq or Afghanistan will be, and what social and healthcare services might be required for this small but important group of veterans who are at highest risk of mental health problems.’
Forces charities say they are bracing themselves for a ‘tidal wave’ of veterans with psychological problems because of the numbers being deployed to warzones.
Some veterans struggle for years with crippling symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, depression and anxiety attacks. Many fall into chronic alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness and crime.
Peter Poole, deputy chief executive of Combat Stress, said: ‘We are encouraged by measures put in place by the UK Armed Forces to support serving personnel are having results. Nevertheless, the rate of those suffering from PTSD is worrying.
‘With the increase in demand for services every year we know we will see the legacy of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come. It is vital that we are able to deliver effective support to these brave men and women so they can return to fulfilling lives.’
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Government had committed £7.4million to improve mental health for service personnel.
She said: ‘We are not complacent. We want to further reduce the stigma of mental illness and continue to better services.’
The nature of individual culture within the terms of enslavement stemmed from a desire to forge a basis for self-identity beyond the control and persecution from the white slave masters. Undoubtedly, the generic sentiments of slavery throughout American history found in textbooks and classrooms throughout the country, provides a glimpse into the mindset of Americans on the issue. However, the representations of slaves contrived from these stereotypical images hinder the reality and complexity of their existence as individuals. Slavery was an evolving institution, which experienced vast changes over its numerous generations. African slavery transformed into American slavery and with this shift came new cultural foundations. Accordingly, traditions developed in exchange with the interactions and the progressions of a new cultural and social institution. It was through vital cultural developments of leisure that slaves were able to establish and experience a reprieve through activities such as sports and recreation, despite being bound by the institution’s harsh practices.
From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.
Provocative and controversial, Rhoden’s $40 Million Slaves weaves a compelling narrative of black athletes in the United States, from the plantation to their beginnings in nineteenth-century boxing rings to the history-making accomplishments of notable figures such as Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, and Willie Mays. Rhoden reveals that black athletes’ “evolution” has merely been a journey from literal plantations—where sports were introduced as diversions to quell revolutionary stirrings—to today’s figurative ones, in the form of collegiate and professional sports programs. He details the “conveyor belt” that brings kids from inner cities and small towns to big-time programs, where they’re cut off from their roots and exploited by team owners, sports agents, and the media. He also sets his sights on athletes like Michael Jordan, who he says have abdicated their responsibility to the community with an apathy that borders on treason.
The power black athletes have today is as limited as when masters forced their slaves to race and fight. The primary difference is, today’s shackles are often the athletes’ own making.
The furor surrounding comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has again cast an unfavorable light on racism in American sport.
Sixty-seven years after Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball’s “color line” when he went to bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the specter of racism still looms large over U.S. professional sport—from outspoken billionaire franchise owners to foul-mouthed players and bigoted fans who spew xenophobic nonsense behind the anonymity of Twitter avatars.
“Racism remains a problem throughout our society as a whole, and sports merely reflects that,” said Ray Halbritter, who has been leading a campaign for the Washington Redskins to drop their racially charged name. From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.
Another species being targeted with these deceptive practices is now being brandished with the new scarlet letter “F”‘ which stands for felons, ex-offenders.
These laws have a disproportionate impact on minorities — 1.4 million black men cannot vote. That is a rate of 13 percent — seven times the national average. A majority of the disenfranchised live in the South: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia all bar former prisoners from voting. Some of these states adopted disenfranchisement provisions during Reconstruction in order to evade the 15th Amendment’s ban on withholding suffrage from freedmen. (Disenfranchising crimes were carefully selected to disqualify large numbers of blacks.) In Florida and Alabama, the racial effect is greatest; blacks comprise almost 50 percent of the disenfranchised.
Given the disparate targeting and treatment of blacks by the criminal justice system, felony disenfranchisement adds a second level of insult and injury to minority ex-offenders. It harms individuals and also limits group political power. I am launching a campaign to provide my community with a facility to redeem life to empower them with another mindset to exist in this life with contentment and resolve so that they may defeat these stigma’s.
Thokozile Matilda Masipa is a former social worker turned journalist turned lawyer turned superior court judge. She’s “eloquent” and highly respected by her peers, but perpetrators should tread lightly.
South Africa’s biggest murder trial is under way, and there’s a black woman at its helm.
Oscar Pistorius—one of that nation’s most renowned paralympics professional athletes and a former Olympian—stands accused of murdering his 29-year-old model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
With the world watching, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa—and only Masipa—will decide if Pistorius intentionally killed his girlfriend or if he sincerely thought she was an intruder and thereby killed her by accident, as Pistorius claims. Unlike murder trials in the United States and most modern judicial systems, South Africa does not have trials decided by jurors because it was nearly impossible to find jurors not influenced by the racial effects of apartheid.
Masipa has had an impressive career. Her tough background, which The Root culled from global news reports, lends credence to court watchers’ speculation that she will not be influenced by the defendant’s emotional breakdowns or the crying and vomiting in court. Here are seven things to know about the judge:
1. Judge Masipa was born in Soweto—the Johannesburg township famous for the anti-apartheid youth uprisings in the 1980s—in 1947, just one year before apartheid became an official ideology that was supported by a leading political party in the country’s 1948 political elections.
Participants in a march to commemorate Youth Day in the Soweto Township on June 16, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
2. Masipa received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a specialization in social work, in 1974 and a law degree in 1990 from the University of South Africa. In fact, she passed South Africa’s version of the bar exam (pdf) in 1990—the same year Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
The University of South Africa (UNISA) at night.
3. Masipa put all that schooling directly to use, quickly exhibiting a knack for public service. Before her judgeship, she worked as a social worker and then as a crime reporter covering racial-discrimination cases. Some reports say that her time as a journalist influenced her decision to practice law.
4. Masipa maintained her respect and fondness for the field of journalism after becoming a judge. In an 2003 interview, she described how she wants judges to be more transparent and use the media to communicate their court decisions and judicial processes to the public.
5. She’s no pushover. Masipa once handed down a 252-year prison sentence to a guy who raped three women during a series of house robberies, and a life sentence to a police officer who killed his wife during an argument about their divorce settlement.
6. In 1998 Masipa became the second black woman to be appointed a judge in the High Court of South Africa.
7. Masipa’s selection for the Pistorius murder trial was all luck and a routine allocation of court cases—not a “special selection,” a representative from the country’s Department of Justice explained.
Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa (center)
As Oscar Pistorius faces trial for murder, a large group of South African women have become like a shadow that the runner seems unable to shake.
In this notoriously violent country, a vocal group of women, most of them black, say they believe Pistorius’ girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was a victim of an all-too-common crime, one that crosses all social and racial boundaries: domestic violence.
Violence against women is stunningly common in South Africa, where a woman is killed every eight hours by her intimate partner, according to a recent study by the well-respected Medical Research Council.
No one doubts that Pistorius killed his girlfriend of three months—the sprinter admitted to the shooting in a sworn affidavit just days after the incident on Feb. 14, 2013. He claims he mistook her for an intruder and did not mean to shoot her four times through a locked bathroom door. The prosecution argues that he knew she was behind the door, and that he meant to kill her.
The suggestion that Pistorius, the famous double amputee whose carbon-fiber blades on the track earned him the moniker “Blade Runner,” may have abused his girlfriend has forged an unlikely kinship in a society still fractured around racial lines. Black women have marched regularly outside the Pretoria courthouse where Pistorius’ bail hearing was held in February 2013.
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
On Feb 2, Joquan Wallace, a student at Paris High School in Paris Texas, asked and got permission from his teacher to use the restroom. Joquan was profiled and followed by the school police officer Joey McCarthy. McCarthy peeped at Joquan under the bathroom stall and when Joquan was returning to class, McCarthy interrogated him as to why he wasn’t using the bathroom closer to his classroom. Joquan told him because he had to do number 2. Joquan had permission to go to the restroom. He was not breaking any school rule, nor was he committing a criminal act. The incident ended in Joquan being assaulted and injured by both McCarthy and Paris High Principal Gary Preston. Both said they told Joquan to go to the office and he didn’t do what he was told. Both Preston and McCarthy claim they were hit when they were placing Joquan under arrest. Numerous witnesses say Joquan never hit anyone. Joquan ended up with two felony charges and a trip to the emergency room with visable injuries. Neither Preston nor McCarthy had any visable injuries according to Joquans parents. Joquan was a good student with no discipline problems. He had no prior arrests. He excelled in sports and had won sports awards for the school. He was up for scholarships from numerous colleges. He was suspended from school. He will not be allowed to walk the stage to graduate with his class. He may not receive any college scholarships. People should support Joquan because its time to end the School to Prison Pipeline. A students future should not be destroyed over an incident that school officials instigated. Hold School officials accountable for bad behavior. It can help prevent this from happening to other students.
Last May, Jahbriel Morris and seven other students were arrested for events relating to a water balloon fight at Enloe HighSchool in Raleigh, N.C.
Enloe High School is known for its racial and socioeconomic diversity. As a magnet program, it attracts kids from all over Wake County, N.C. But the school also has enough of a crime problem that a Raleigh police officer is permanently assigned to campus.
Last May 16, a massive water balloon fight broke out at Enloe. After a 911 call about the senior-day prank, the Raleigh Police Department dispatched 24 officers to restore order. The heightened security stemmed, in part, from the rumors that the balloons would be filled with urine and bleach. (Police and school officials would later say that there was no evidence of the balloons being filled with any substance other than water.)
In the end, eight Enloe students, all 16 to 17 years old, along with a parent, were arrested following events related to the water balloon fight.
In North Carolina, being arrested as a teenager has enormous consequences. It’s one of two states in the country that consider 16- and 17-year-olds to be adults when they are charged with a criminal offense and then deny them the chance to appeal for return to the juvenile system. The law means that misdemeanor charges stick on your permanent record.
Following the Enloe incident, however, there has been pushback from child advocates over how the state handles teen discipline. This week, Legal Aid of North Carolina is filing a complaint with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, alleging “over-reliance on unregulated school policing practices, often in response to minor infractions of school rules.” The complaint charges that those policies routinely violate “students’ educational and constitutional rights, as well as protections for students with disabilities and for African-American students against unlawful discrimination.”
The issues in Wake County have also resonated nationally. Earlier this month, the federal Education and Justice departments issued new guidance on school discipline, designed to disrupt what’s increasingly called the “school-to-prison pipeline” that critics say lands far too many black and Hispanic students in the courthouse — or jail.
The new guidance, which is voluntary, urges school officials to remember that they, not police officers, are responsible for routine student discipline. It also urges schools to improve faculty training to resolve conflicts without calling the cops.
But in Wake County, the guidance comes a little too late.
The water balloon fight
On the day of the arrests, Jahbriel Morris was waiting at the bus with friends. When the water balloon fight began, Morris said he was running away from the ones being thrown in his direction. Soon, a police officer ran up behind him — a “really big guy,” Morris recalled.
“He grabs me,” Morris said. “I snatch away from him. And he turns me around and grabs me by my neck and slams me on my back.”
Morris, then a 15-year-old sophomore, was having a hard time processing exactly what was going on.
“Honestly, when it first happened, the first thing that went in my head was, ‘I can’t believe I’m about to get arrested. I gotta walk my sister home,’ because we ride the same bus,” said Morris, who was ultimately not arrested.
Kevin Hines was in Enloe’s carpool lane waiting to pick up his twin daughters when he saw Morris get slammed to the ground by a Raleigh police officer. “Very, very disturbing,” he said.
After witnessing what happened to Morris, Hines entered the school to alert the principal. But as he tried entering the principal’s office, Hines was met by the same officer who had body-slammed Morris moments earlier. The police officer, Hines said, radioed in to two more officers who swarmed the parent and slammed him against a wall.
“(The police officer) says, ‘Tase him, tase him,’” Hines said. “And at that point, I said, ‘For what?’ ‘Oh, for trespassing.’” Police did not use a Taser on Hines, but he was charged with trespassing.
Robert Brown, one of the seven students arrested, was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
Walking out of the bathroom, Brown, then a 16-year-old sophomore, said he saw a water balloon being thrown. The water balloon, he said, was coming “from a completely different direction than from where I’m standing.” Then an administrator came from behind him and grabbed his arm and shoulder.
“He’s like, ‘I saw you throw the water balloon,’” Brown said. “And I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t.’ So they take me to a conference room and they tell me, ‘You’ll probably be arrested.’”
Walking out of the bathroom, Brown, then a 16-year-old sophomore, said he saw a water balloon being thrown. The water balloon, he said, was coming “from a completely different direction than from where I’m standing.” Then an administrator came from behind him and grabbed his arm and shoulder.
“He’s like, ‘I saw you throw the water balloon,’” Brown said. “And I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t.’ So they take me to a conference room and they tell me, ‘You’ll probably be arrested.’”
To what extent does this race gap in school punishments exist across the country? America Tonight broke down the numbers to see how the school-to-prison pipeline actually works, it’s scope and what’s fuelling the racial divide. We trace how suspensions of children can lead to more high school drop outs, and how police involvement in school discipline can end up producing more hardened criminals.
Langberg said there’s no evidence to support that the black students are acting up more or are acting more severely, but that they are being suspended more often and more harshly. For example, Langberg found that 40 percent of black students in Wake County schools caught with cellphones were suspended last year, while only 17 percent of white students were suspended for the same offense.
“We see differences in disability, race, class,” he said. “Students doing the exact same things are often treated differently.”
Eight months after the Enloe incident, the young men who spoke to America Tonight maintained that they weren’t even involved in the water balloon fight. For them, the day has had a life-altering impact.
“I just want people to know that we aren’t bad kids,” Brown said. “We’re not criminals, you know? We’re not thieves, murderers, anything like that. We (are) just students that go to school who got put in the wrong situation.”
The push for mediation
Wake County schools spend $6 million on policing every year, but crime remains a problem in its schools. In 2011, there were 29 acts of crime and violence at Enloe, including 10 assaults on school personnel and seven charges of weapons possession, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
The incidents happen regularly. For example, Tori Davis, a Broughton High School senior, brawled with another girl last year over a boy. Like the kids at Enloe High across town, Davis, 17 at the time, was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. She also got kicked out of school for seven days, which, she said caused her grades to tank.
“I ended up at the end of the year failing English and geometry,” she said.
Jon Powell, a professor at Campbell University Law School in Raleigh, said that what’s happening in Wake County at schools like Enloe and Broughton has both an immediate and long-term effect on students applying for college or trying to get a job.
“To me, the most severe consequence is having a criminal record,” Powell told America Tonight. “Even if they’re never convicted, a charge in the adult system stays on a person’s record.” He added: “Those records are private as I think they should be. And if we could raise the age in North Carolina, part of those protections would be put in place.”
Powell has lobbied the state’s General Assembly to increase the age, an effort that has been unsuccessful so far. But he’s had better luck as the director of the Juvenile Justice Project, which promoted an alternative: mediation instead of a criminal charge.
“We need to keep kids in school,” Powell said. “The answer to success is not in having kids leave school. We need to keep kids in school.”
Luckily for Davis, Broughton is one of a handful of Wake County schools that has signed on with Powell’s approach. More importantly, Powell brokered a deal that allowed her criminal charges to be dismissed. Now, Davis plans to graduate in May and attend Winston-Salem State with a clean record.
Davis knows her story could have had a similar outcome to what happened across town at Enloe.
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A landmark increase in Japan’s sales tax has led to a rush for small gold bars as retail investors pile into the precious metal to avoid next week’s rate rise.
Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, a precious metals specialist, reported that sales of gold ingots across seven of its shops are up more than 500 per cent this month, as customers rush to take advantage of the current 5 per cent rate of consumption tax before it rises to 8 per cent on 1 April.
At the company’s flagship store in Ginza on Thursday, people queued for up to three hours to buy 500g bars worth about Y2.3m ($22,500). March has been the busiest month in Tanaka’s 120-year history.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on a series of radical reforms dubbed Abenomics in an attempt to weaken the yen and boost the ailing Japanese economy, prompting investors to buy gold as a hedge against the spectre of higher inflation.
Investors are being drawn to the metal not just because of higher taxes, said Itsuo Toshima, an adviser to pension funds.“Slowly and steadily, people are preparing for the worst, which is the failure of Abenomics.”
“To protect the value of wealth, gold comes into play as an inflation hedge, and if the economy goes back to deflationary circumstances then, again, money seeking safe havens would flow into gold.”
Economists are divided on whether Abenomics can survive a rise in the deeply unpopular sales tax, which is being increased to help stabilise Japan’s huge public debt. Last time a Japanese government tried to hike the levy in 1997, a deep recession followed.
Japan’s hunger for gold bars is at odds with general sentiment towards the precious metal, the price of which fell 28 per cent last year, bring an end to a 12 year bull run. Yet Yuichi “Bruce” Ikemizu, head of commodities trading at Standard Bank in Tokyo, said retail buyers had been tempted into purchases by lower prices.
The Fruit of Gold ETF managed by Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking, the country’s most popular bullion-backed investment vehicle, saw its assets rise from 5.6 tonnes, when Mr Abe assumed power in December 2012, to 6.9 tonnes now – even as the US dollar price of gold fell by more than a fifth over that period.
Individual investors in the fund numbered 15,243 in mid-January, a sharp increase from 9,849 a year earlier, said general manager Osamu Hoshi.
At Tanaka’s third-floor store in Ginza, one 33-year trader at a foreign-owned brokerage, who did not want to be named, said the tax increase represented a “good opportunity” to buy more gold as he was worried about holding too many yen-denominated assets.
“I plan to hold it for a long time until there is a good time to sell when the yen collapses or something,” he said.
Even a strong rise in Japanese gold purchases is unlikely to affect the global bullion market. Last year consumer demand in Japan was 21.3 tonnes, according to the World Gold Council, compared to 1,066 tonnes in China and 975 tonnes in India.
Albuquerque police oversight panel members on Tuesday demanded an independent investigation into the fatal police shooting of a homeless man as video footage from the altercation brought further condemnation from across the state.
Speaking a day after Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry called video of the shooting “horrific,” Police Oversight Task Force members said a new investigation was needed to examine the death of James Boyd. Members said they wanted an independent review of Albuquerque police and the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities said Boyd, 38, died after officers fired stun guns, bean bags and six live rounds on March 16. Police said Boyd had threatened to kill officers and held onto knives as an unarmed K-9 officer approached him.
A helmet camera video showed Boyd gathering his belongings then turning away right before officers fired following a long standoff where Boyd claimed he was a federal government agent.
The shooting came as the Albuquerque Police Department is the subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation involving the use of force and three dozen officer shootings — 22 fatal — since 2010.
But most of the shootings weren’t caught on video because the department didn’t start requiring officers to wear lapel cameras until May 2012.
Videos of other police shootings have generated small protests, but the latest video footage has drawn fire from local and state elected officials and various civil rights groups. A planned protest late Tuesday at Albuquerque Civic Plaza is expected to draw residents from around the city and Santa Fe.
“I think the helmet cam has a lot to do with it,” said Hans Erickson, vice chair of the task force. “It’s so important for us to have as much information on these kinds of shootings as we can.”
Erickson said the footage allows the public to see what happened without having to rely solely on accounts of police and witnesses.
The shooting even gained the attention of New Mexico Senate Democrats, who said Albuquerque police officers needed better training.
“It’s shameful that we are not better preparing these officers to handle all situations that come their way,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen. “Unfortunately, it is at the expense of precious lives.”
Police said the Boyd shooting is being investigated by five outside agencies. Berry announced Monday he has asked Las Cruces police to join the investigation and told Justice Department officials they were free to review any files on Boyd’s death.
“The problem is, yes, we need an independent investigation in this incident. But there have been over 20 other incidents,” said Alan Wagman, a member of the task force and a criminal defense attorney.
The Police Oversight Task Force was created by the Albuquerque City Council to help review the police oversight process. Their list of recommendations, including allowing a commission to give policy recommendations directly to the police chief, is scheduled to go before city councilors, said chair Andrew Lipman.
A day after hundreds of people clashed with Albuquerque riot officers over police shootings, Gov. Susana Martinez said Monday that she understands the public’s frustration but called on protesters to remain calm while federal officials investigate.
At least one officer was injured and six people arrested as the protesters marched back and forth between downtown and the University of New Mexico for 10 hours Sunday, blocking traffic, trying to topple street signs and calling for the police chief and other city officials to resign. It’s unclear if any protesters were hurt.
Gas canisters were thrown outside police headquarters, and Mayor Richard Berry said Sunday that at one point protesters trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break its windows.
Martinez said she watched the protests on television Sunday.
“Albuquerque is going through a tough time, and they’ll figure it out through the investigation,” the governor said. “We want that to be thorough. We want confidence in the investigation, but I just don’t want to see anyone harmed.”
This protest and another last week were in response to the 37 shootings Albuquerque police have been involved in since 2010, 23 of them fatal. The outrage bubbled over recently with the release of a video showing officers fatally shooting 38-year-old James Boyd, a homeless camper, as he appeared to be preparing to surrender on March 16. Ten days later, officers killed another man after they say he shot at them.
On Friday, the FBI confirmed it had opened a criminal investigation into the Boyd shooting. And the U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the Police Department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” (James 1:27, NIV).
Scripture clearly and repeatedly exhorts Christians to care for the fatherless. And, with 127,000 children waiting for a mother and father in the U.S. foster care system and numerous infants needing loving homes, answering the biblical call to care for orphans is no small task.
In 2007, Ke’onte was just eight years old, News 8’s Gloria Campos featured him as a Wednesday’s Child in hopes of finding a family to adopt him.
Following a failed adoption and disappointment, Gloria did another report on Ke’onte two years later, in hopes the second time would be the charm.
Now 14, Ke’onte returned to WFAA to surprise Gloria Campos, live, during the News 8 at 10 broadcast.
Having a passion to serve and treat others as you would want to be treated is equal to self respect and having a compassionate heart. Seeds like that grow into viable organisms. Gloria Campos had purposed in her heart to let her difference make a difference in this young man’s life and now he is restored with hope that will help his parents have joy and those of whom he will touch in his school environment as well as community at home.
There are several touching stories like this. Adoption can be risky business for both parties but restoration of discarded human beings as well as animals is the work of a Powerful God. Only He can soothe pain and fill voids and create clean hearts.
Adoption has been gaining attention as a national priority in the United States. More than 150,000 adoptions take place each year, but there are still 127,000 children waiting for adoption in the U.S. foster care system, as well as infants born to birthmothers not ready to parent. In light of Christ’s command to care for orphans, the number of children without loving homes is more than just another social issue; adoption is a Christian concern.
Defined as the permanent, legal transfer of parental rights over a child from biological parents to adoptive parents, adoption is an important social practice that promotes the well-being of children, families and society. Though there are several different categories of adoption, every adoption scenario gives adoptive parents the same rights, responsibilities and joys as biological parents, and gives adopted children the same legal, social and emotional benefits of birth children.
Adoption positively impacts all those involved with the process. It gives birthmothers the assurance that their children will be raised in stable families, gives adoptive parents the joy of parenting, and gives children the opportunity to join a permanent family and grow up in a loving home. Adoption also promotes the social and economic well-being of our nation because an adopted child is less likely (than the child of a single mother) to grow up in poverty, more likely to obtain an education, and more likely to have an involved father.
Adoption is also connected to important social issues, such as the sanctity of human life and the definition of family. Adoption upholds the sanctity of human life by providing a positive alternative to abortion for birthmothers who feel unable to parent. Adoption contributes positively to family formation by creating the opportunity for children waiting in foster care to have a loving mother and father—replacing what the child has lost.
And yet, the adoption process has been recently burdened by initiatives that ignore its purpose and promote unrelated goals. Anti-life forces rarely mention adoption as a positive alternative to abortion, and same-sex advocates reject mother-father family structures as the model for adoptive families. It is no wonder then that the fundamental purposes of adoption have come under attack and that adoption has become a topic of political controversy.
Recognizing the importance of adoption and current political threats to the practice, Focus on the Family is passionately committed to not only promoting adoption among churches and families, but also to advocating adoption policies that promote and defend the well-being of children, parents and families.
While orphan care is clearly a biblical mandate for churches and families, adoption is also an important policy concern that impacts other efforts to defend life and family. The option of adoption allows pregnant women who do not think they are ready or able to parent to confidently choose life. Also, adoption provides orphans the filial relationships that God intended for all mankind to have. In other words, it grants children who are waiting for homes the hope of receiving loving families.
Children’s Needs Lost to an Agenda
Along with the sheer challenge of finding loving homes for all children who need them, the current political climate – particularly movements to redefine the family – makes child placement even more difficult. While adoption is meant to provide children with a mother and a father when the original family is broken, unfortunately, the adoption process is now used as an avenue to advance homosexual rights. Efforts to advance rights and protections for homosexuals often place a higher priority on an individual desire to parent, rather than a child’s need for a mother and a father. Today, it is not enough to promote the practice of adoption; we must also defend adoption against initiatives that would distort its purpose.
As evidenced by the fight for adoption rights by same-sex couples, the current movement to protect and promote homosexual rights threatens the adoption arena and children’s best interests. Though they might push for it, homosexual couples—and all couples for that matter—possess no right to adopt. Rather, children have a right to grow up with the love that only a mother and a father can jointly provide. Adoption placements should acknowledge that placing a child in a family structure with a married mother and father is in the child’s best interest. Unfortunately, current anti-discrimination policies and judicial decisions often negate the best interest of children in the name of tolerance and equality.
One conflict has already risen to the surface. The movement to promote individuals with same-sex attraction as a legally protected class threatens the work of adoption agencies that hold moral convictions against same-sex adoption. Certain anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. ultimately mandate that adoption agencies allow same-sex couples to adopt children. These acts stifle the freedom of independent adoption agencies to decide that concern for a child’s best interests requires them to make placements in married mother and father homes rather than with gay or lesbian-identified couples, or cohabiting heterosexual couples. Ultimately, sexual orientation laws that were meant to prevent discrimination actually violate the freedom of adoption agencies that hold religious or moral convictions against certain adoption placements, and deprive a child of either a father or mother. Adoption agencies are forced to decide between closing their doors and violating their deeply held beliefs.
This has already happened. In 2006, Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws pushed Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, to leave the adoption business in order to uphold its religious convictions about marriage and family. More recently, an Arizona-based Internet adoption registry was forced to stop providing adoption services to Californians after the company was sued for refusing to provide services to a same-sex couple.
Clearly, laws should be passed protecting the moral and religious rights of adoption agencies, which should be able to help children find the loving homes they need without violating their deeply-held religious convictions about marriage and family
In summary, adoption is an important Christian concern. If we as believers are to fulfill our biblical mandate to care for orphans, we must support initiatives that: encourage adoption; advocate policies that promote the well-being of children, parents, and families; and reject measures that negate the best interest of children, deny God’s design for the family or threaten the moral rights of adoption services.
The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino.
An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.
Mayor Bill de Blasio closed a divisive chapter in New York City history Thursday when he announced that his administration had reached an agreement with the civil rights lawyers who challenged the Police Department’s abusive and racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk program in federal court.
The agreement clears the way for the Police Department to carry out reforms ordered last summer by Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, and thus to repair its damaged relationship with minority communities. The judge ruled that the department’s stop-and- frisk tactics violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens and said that city officials under the former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had been “deliberately indifferent” to these illegalities.
An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports:
In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 532,911 times
473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent).
284,229 were black (55 percent).
165,140 were Latino (32 percent).
50,366 were white (10 percent).
In 2013, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 191,558 times.
169,252 were totally innocent (88 percent).
104,958 were black (56 percent).
55,191 were Latino (29 percent).
20,877 were white (11 percent).
Every time a police officer stops a person in NYC, the officer is supposed to fill out a form to record the details of the stop. Officers fill out the forms by hand, and then the forms are entered manually into a database. There are 2 ways the NYPD reports this stop-and-frisk data: a paper report released quarterly and an electronic database released annually.
The paper reports – which the N.Y.C.L.U. releases every three months – include data on stops, arrests, and summonses. The data are broken down by precinct of the stop and race and gender of the person stopped. The paper reports provide a basic snapshot on stop-and-frisk activity by precinct and are available here.
The electronic database includes nearly all of the data recorded by the police officer after a stop. The data include the age of person stopped, if a person was frisked, if there was a weapon or firearm recovered, if physical force was used, and the exact location of the stop within the precinct. Having the electronic database allows researchers to look in greater detail at what happens during a stop.
In response, the city argued that minority residents were stopped more frequently because they committed more crimes. But evidence at trial showed that those being stopped were overwhelmingly innocent, that blacks and Hispanics were stopped in disproportionate numbers and that officers were more likely to use force against minority citizens. Mr. Bloomberg appealed the decision. Mr. de Blasio’s criticism of the policy, and his promise to drop the appeal, helped propel him into office.
The setting for the announcement from Mr. de Blasio, Police Commissioner William Bratton and the city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter — a community recreation center in the mainly minority Brownsville section of Brooklyn — powerfully reinforced their message. Brownsville was ground zero for the stop-and-frisk program at its height. A Times analysis in 2010 found that the police had logged nearly 52,000 stops within eight or so blocks over a four-year period. This meant that young people in the area were growing up in the equivalent of a police state where they could be detained on the sidewalk at any time for no reason at all. The fear and distrust that flowed from this undermined confidence in the Police Department, making it all the more difficult for officers to do their jobs.
Mr. Bratton, who has made good community relations a cornerstone of his career, acknowledged as much in his remarks. “We will not break the law to enforce the law,” he said. “That’s my solemn promise to every New Yorker, regardless of where they were born, where they live, or what they look like. Those values aren’t at odds with keeping New Yorkers safe — they are essential to long-term public safety.” Mr. de Blasio spoke movingly of the toll that the program has taken on the social fabric and on minority youth, many of them deeply alienated by tactics that have presumed them criminal until proved otherwise.
The city can now set about taking the corrective steps that Judge Scheindlin ordered. She has selected Peter Zimroth, a respected lawyer and former prosecutor, to serve as a monitor. His responsibilities will include developing new reforms governing Police Department policies and training and discipline on stop-and-frisk. These measures should help to bring police policies fully in line with the Constitution.
So I…pull over to the side of the road, I heard
“Son do you know why I’m stoppin’ you for?”
Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hats real low,
Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don’t know,
Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo’?
“Well you was doin’ fifty-five in a fifty-four.
License and registration and step out of the car
Are you carryin’ a weapon on you I know a lot of you are.”
Behavioral profiles that rely on an individual’s conduct are far more
accurate than profiles that depend on an individual’s race. When officers take
race into account to develop a criminal profile, they rely on stereotypes about
criminal tendencies of minority groups, rather than objective and rational criteria
This use of racial stereotypes to detect criminality violates
multiple amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Despite the fact that many strong
arguments against the practice of racial profiling may be derived from the
Constitution, the legal system in the United States has utterly failed to effectively
address the problem of racial profiling. Thus, the legal system perpetuates a
class structure in which society may continue to socially oppress African
Americans by portraying them as possessing uncontrollable and innate urges
toward criminality. Racial profiling is a denial of equal treatment as well as a
reflection of the historical stigmatization of all African Americans.
The specific analysis of New York’s racial profiling problems detailed above illustrates the
manner in which society ignores the role of this historic stigmatization when
examining racial profiling.
Many who speak out against the practice of racial profiling link its existence to slavery in this nation. Courts have consistently failed to acknowledge the connection between demonizing African Americans, as a means
of justifying the institution of slavery, and racial profiling practices used by police in contemporary American society. Historical presumptions that developed to maintain the slavery system continue to remain; these presumptions base themselves on the assertion that African Americans are habitual criminals that should be under constant suspicion.
The stigma of criminality attached to African Americans by white society was developed as a means of social control over the enslaved and later emancipated African Americans. By creating an image of blacks that portrays them as prone to irrepressible violence, white society effected the perception of slaves as subhuman. This perception reinforced the belief that the institution of slavery was needed to restrain African Americans. By placing whites in
constant fear of blacks, white citizens would be more willing to accept black subordination to ensure white safety. Abolition of the slavery system proved ineffective in negating centuries of historical, legal, and cultural stripping of African Americans’ humanity. Racial profiling of African Americans has always been and remains to be a part of the nation’s social and legal fabric.
‘This Is Going to Ruin My Entire Life’: 18-Year-Old Aspiring Firefighter Charged With Felony for Pocket Knife
Some of the most important decisions we face in life involve ethical or moral questions. As individuals, we all face life-shaping ethical choices such as: What kind of person do I want to be? What values should I live by? How should I treat others? and What should my priorities in life be? As a society, we also confront fundamental and inescapable moral choices: When, if ever, is war morally justifiable? Should the death penalty be legal? Should all citizens have the same basic rights? When is it legitimate for government to restrict individual liberty? What is a just society?
Law also raises issues of fundamental importance: Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee a right to abortion? Does the death penalty violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments”? Should preferential treatment in employment and university admissions decisions be legal? Do bans on gay marriage violate the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws”? Does the CIA’s rough handling (some would say torture) of suspected terrorists constitute a “war crime” under international law?
Because law and morality play such crucial roles in human affairs, it’s important to be able to think critically about them. A branch of philosophy that seeks to clarify moral concepts and answer questions about what is right or wrong, or morally good or bad. Our main focus will be on moral arguments. A moral argument is an argument that includes at least one moral statement. A moral statement is a claim that asserts that something is good or bad, right or wrong, or has some other ethical quality (e.g., being just, admirable, or blameworthy). Moral statements are normative statements, that is, statements that claim that something has or lacks a certain value, or should or should not be done. Not all normative statements are moral statements. If I say, for example, that Paris is a more beautiful city than London, I am not saying anything about the comparative moral qualities of the two cities.
If I say that it’s a shame that the law has propelled to a level that makes “martyrs” of its citizens that is a moral statement and that is what I feel is happening in our society in reference to the laws that are making all our youths become in jeopardy of living a quality life.
Eighteen year-old Jordan Wiser is training to be a firefighter. He’s a certified emergency vehicle operator who works as a first responder when he’s not attending high school. And, after just spending 13 days in jail, he’s now facing felony charges for weapons possession.
The weapon? A pocketknife. It was in his EMT vest, and he uses it to cut through seatbelts when he’s practicing saving lives.
How did this happen? According to The Huffington Post, administrators at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus in Jefferson, Ohio, where Wiser is enrolled, approached the student after someone informed them about videos Wiser had uploaded to YouTube. The videos include reviews of video games and merchandise, demonstrations on home-defense tactics, and an interview with a local police officer. Officials searched Wiser’s car in the school parking lot and found an assortment of items, including a pocketknife, a stun gun, and two Airsoft pellet guns. Wiser said the Airsoft guns were in his trunk because he planned to participate in the sport after school. The stun gun was locked in his glove compartment for self-defense. The pocketknife was inside his EMT medical vest.
For the possession of the pocketknife alone, police arrested and jailed Wiser for 13 days for conveying a weapon onto school grounds—a felony under Ohio law.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time anyone has written about teenagers victimized by weapons ordinances. Last year, Cobb County, Georgia police arrested and charged 17-year-old Cody Chitwood with a felony for bringing weapons into a school zone. The weapons were fishing knives, and they were in his truck, in a tackle box.
At first glance, such weapons ordinances sound sensible. But the criminal law contains the harshest punishments the state metes out, and it should be applied in a proportionate manner. Simply put, it’s absurd to ruin a kid’s life over a pocketknife that he uses to save lives.
Perhaps additional facts will come to light. But, as it stands, this incident looks like a shameful exercise of prosecutorial discretion—something of which residents of Ashtabula County should take note come November, when the county’s prosecutor, Nicholas Iarocci, is up for re-election. Unless Iarocci’s office is saving some damning revelation for Wiser’s trial, the charges against this young man are unjustified, and should be dropped before they cause him any more suffering.
The results of any person getting a felony today are equal to becoming a martyr of a new sought designed by the corrupt politicians and socialist of America. From California to New York, Texas to Michigan, a record number of convicted criminals are either being released from cells or serving time in community-based programs as states, under pressure to cut costs, adopt new philosophies on how to handle nonviolent offenders and many inmates incarcerated in the 1970s and ’80s near the end of their terms. In some cases, lawsuits designed to reduce overcrowding are forcing authorities to open prison doors as well.
These days roughly 700,000 ex-cons are hitting US streets each year – a new high, according to Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. While the vast majority of the inmates are nonviolent, some, like Corralez, served sentences for serious crimes and are now winning parole in higher numbers.
The result is an unprecedented test – of authorities’ ability to monitor the newly released prisoners, of social service groups’ capacity to help them forge new lives, of the inmates’ willingness to start over, of communities’ tolerance to let them do so.
Jason Corralez donned a freshly pressed collared shirt. He had shaved neatly around his salt-and-pepper goatee. He looked like a man about to go on a job interview, which he was. It was a job he desperately wanted, but one question gnawed at him: Would they be willing to hire a convicted murderer?
Mr. Corralez had one advantage as he applied for the position at Trader Joe’s in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Both his brother-in-law and nephew worked at the grocery store. But as his wife drove him to the interview, Corralez was worried about that question on the application that asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony. He had written: “Will discuss during interview.”
When he arrived at the store, the manager queried him about his résumé. Corralez went through his work experience, which all happened to be from his time in prison, where he had been since he was 17: upholstery work, yard maintenance, small engine repair, clerical tasks. “I explained my job experience,” he says. “All the courses I took – anger management, morals and values.”
Corralez didn’t leave out why he went to prison, either. “I’m an ex-felon for the offense of second-degree murder,” he told the manager. A former member of The Mob Crew, an East Los Angeles gang, he served 24 years for killing a member of the rival MS-13 gang in a drive-by shooting. “This is the person I was,” he said, “and this is the person I am now.”
According to Corralez, the manager stepped back, stunned. “Thank you for being honest,” Corralez recalls him saying. As the ex-prisoner walked to the bus stop, he knew what it meant. “I took everything that I had accomplished, everything that I had to do to get a second chance,” he says. “But I could see it in his reaction. It was like the nail in the coffin.”
Corralez’s struggle to transition from prisoner to free member of society is one that thousands of inmates across the country are going through as states trim their prison populations on a scale unseen in American history.
Oppression typically operates as a system. This means that there are multiple forces taking away someone’s power based on a part of their identity (their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, etc). All of these forces work together to marginalize, subordinate, dehumanize, or otherwise devalue groups of people.
Nas & Damian Marley – Patience Lyrics
Here we are
Here we are
This one right here is for the people
[Verse 1: Damian Marley]
Some of the smartest dummies
Can’t read the language of Egyptian mummies
An’ a flag on a moon
And can’t find food for the starving tummies
Pay no mind to the youths
Cause it’s not like the future depends on it
But save the animals in the zoo
Cause the chimpanzee dem a make big money
This is how the media pillages
On the TV the picture is
Savages in villages
And the scientist still can’t explain the pyramids, huh
Evangelists making a living on the videos of ribs of the little kids
Stereotyping the image of the images
And this is what the image is
You buy a khaki pants
And all of a sudden you say a Indiana Jones
An’ a thief out gold and thief out the scrolls and even the buried bones
Some of the worst paparazzis I’ve ever seen and I ever known
Put the worst on display so the world can see
And that’s all they will ever show
So the ones in the West
Will never move East
And feel like they could be at home
Dem get tricked by the beast
But a where dem ago flee when the monster is fully grown?
Solomonic linage whe dem still can’t defeat and them coulda never clone
My spiritual DNA that print in my soul and I will forever Own Lord
Major forces that make up a system of oppression are:
*Diminished legal rights/status of the oppressed group
*Negative attitudes and heightened violence toward the group
*Decreased social investment (money, resources) in the group
*Employment, educational, institutional discrimination/exclusion
*Oppressed group’s identity reduced to stereotypes
*Loss of power and freedom within the group
*Oppressed groups adopting destructive beliefs about their own group (internalized oppression)
*Perpetuation of the oppressor’s power
*Privileges afforded to the oppressor
Throughout most of the world, the most privileged groups are: light skin, male, heterosexual, transgender, conventionally attractive, Christian/Gentile, healthy/able bodied, wealthy/financially comfortable. These various groups have historically been, and currently are, some of the major groups that contribute to oppression. But, that doesn’t mean they have to be!
WHAT IS INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION?
When people are targeted, discriminated against, or oppressed over a period of time, they often internalize (believe and make part of their self-image – their internal view of themselves) the myths and misinformation that society communicates to them about their group. Exploited peasants might internalize the ideas that they can’t do any other kind of work, that their lives were meant to be as they are, and that they’re worth less than people with wealth or education. Women might internalize the stereotype that they are not good at math and science, or people of color might internalize the myth that they are not good workers,
When people from targeted groups internalize myths and misinformation, it can cause them to feel (often unconsciously) that in some way they are inherently not as worthy, capable, intelligent, beautiful, good, etc. as people outside their group. They turn the experience of oppression or discrimination inward. They begin to feel that the stereotypes and misinformation that society communicates are true and they act as if they were true. This is called internalized oppression.
Internalized oppression affects many groups of people: women, people of color, poor and working class people, people with disabilities, young people, elders, Jews, Catholics, immigrants, gays, and many other groups.
Not all members of groups that are discriminated against or oppressed necessarily turn stereotypes inward. Many remain proud of their heritage, or are able to take prominent places in the larger society through their exercise of effort, intelligence, talent, interpersonal skill, and self-respect. Many members of oppressed groups try to escape their situations by emigration or other means, and many succeed. Some rise up and overthrow their oppressors, although this can cause nearly as many problems as it solves.
Don’t assume that just because someone is a member of a group that has experienced bias, he is suffering from the results of internal oppression. Individuals are different, and have different experiences and backgrounds. If you assume internal oppression in all cases without getting to know the individual at least a little, you may, in trying to be helpful and empathetic, find that instead you’re being condescending or insulting.
It is important to note that internalized oppression is not the fault of people whom it affects. No one should be blamed or blame themselves for having been affected by discrimination. Nevertheless, as community members, we have to face these barriers in order to achieve our goals.
While the stereotypes that people internalize are imposed by society, we all, whether we are members of the favored majority or the oppressed or unfairly treated minority, have a personal responsibility to confront those stereotypes. As members of the majority, we need to help and support those in the minority to see that their personal worth has nothing to do with society’s current or past prejudice. And as members of the minority, we have a responsibility to listen to those among us who challenge the majority view, and to analyze and challenge it ourselves. We may need support and guidance in doing so – that’s what Paulo Freire provided to those he worked with, and what he wrote about.
There are two ways that internalized oppression functions:
Internalized oppression operates on an individual basis. A person believes that the stereotypes and misinformation that she hears are true about herself. She holds herself back from living life to her full potential or she acts in ways that reinforce the stereotypes and are ultimately self-defeating.
Internalized oppression occurs among members of the same cultural group. People in the same group believe (often unconsciously) the misinformation and stereotypes that society communicates about other members of their group. People turn the oppression on one another, instead of addressing larger problems in society. The results are that people treat one another in ways that are less than fully respectful. Often people from the same cultural group hurt, undermine, criticize, mistrust, fight with, or isolate themselves from one another.
WHY DO COMMUNITY BUILDERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION?
Understanding internalized oppression is invaluable for community builders. People simply can’t fight effectively for themselves when they believe the problem is their own fault or that something is inherently wrong with them. To empower communities to become more effective at fighting the battles for better health care, good education, a safe environment, and adequate jobs, community members have to learn how to overcome the discouragement, confusion, and divisions that are a result of internalized oppression.
As I watched this movie last night I was struck with innovative thoughts on how to become a philanthropist myself in-order to get Second Chance Alliance off the ground. Visualization is a technique used by winners in all walks of life. If you really want something to come to fruition, then you have to put your imaginative mind to work. See the result in front of you, play the game you are going to play in your mind or watch yourself accepting your success. The only limit is your own mind. I watched another video that showed the brand I desire for my dream and man what a experience of rejuvenation I experienced from “Home Boy” Industries.
Nothing is going to improve when you feel lousy about yourself and your chances in life. A positive mindset will reset an erring period of bad luck. It will turn that half-empty glass into the half-full glass; the rainy day into the silver-lined cloud. Seize opportunities to change and move on. You’re about to create them!
Visualization is sort of like hypnosis: if you don’t think it’ll work, it won’t. Thinking positively is the first step to making sure this visualization is actually effective. It’s the first step to making these desires a part of real life. Visualization and faith are powerful ingredients. I was feeling bad that I can not seem to find anyone to buy into my dream to bring this sought of program to Riverside County, but I am connected to all the power one needs and that is The God of the universe.
My passion is the reason God woke me up this morning, and just the thought of it can keep you up late with excitement. But not everyone knows exactly what his passion is right away. Don’t worry — whether you’re looking for your passion to find a new career, or if you’re looking to get completely immersed in a new hobby or activity, there are a number of things you can do to find your passion. My past has fueled this passion and God has poured this same vision of hope for helping others into my spirit.
The prison looms today as a central feature of American society. Since 1976, we have been building on average one prison every week. More than two million Americans are now crammed into the nation’s still overcrowded jails and prisons. In fact, there are now about as many prisoners in America as there are farmers. Over half of those incarcerated are people of color. More than four million Americans, again mainly people of color, have been permanently disenfranchised because of felony convictions, many under laws enacted explicitly to prevent African-Americans from voting. (1) Studies have shown that this disenfranchisement has had a significant impact on the outcome of presidential and senate elections prior to 2000. (2) We need no detailed studies to show the direct impact of this disenfranchisement on the most recent national election. Prior to November 2000, one third of the African-American men in Florida were convicted as felons and then stripped of their right to vote, while thousands more were purged from the voting rolls as alleged felons by fiat of a corporation hired by Governor Jeb Bush. If only a small percentage of Florida’s 204,000 disenfranchised male African-American citizens (not to mention the other 200,000 disenfranchised ex-felons in Florida) had been allowed to vote in 2000, even the U.S. Supreme Court could not have installed George W. Bush as President of the United States.
As the prison has become ever more central to American society, oral and written literature created by American prisoners and ex-prisoners has become ever more vital to understanding its wider significance. One central theme unifies the entire body of American prison literature, a theme that emerged from African-American experience: Who are the real criminals? As Frederick Douglass wrote in 1845 about the law-abiding citizens of America: “I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery.” A hundred and twenty five years later, George Drumgold, writing from Comstock Prison, expressed a similar idea in this couplet:
They say we’re the criminals, a threat to society
But in truth they stole us, so how can that be?
But there’s a difference. Unlike Drumgold, Douglass did not have to be convicted of a crime to be enslaved.
Prior to the Civil War, African-American slavery was not legitimized or rationalized by any claim that the slaves were being punished for crimes. That was to come next. The necessary legal transformation was effected in 1865 by the very Amendment to the Constitution–Article 13–that abolished the old form of slavery:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States . . . .
Article 13 actually wrote slavery into the Constitution of the United States, but only for those people legally defined as criminals. So America now had to transform the freed slaves into criminals–by law and through culture.
Why? Because massive slave labor was needed for the plantations, coal mines, lumber camps, railroad and road construction, and prison factories, where during the Civil War white slaves produced equipment for the Union army.
The former slave states immediately devised legislation–the Black Codes–branding almost every former slave as a criminal. These laws specified that many vaguely defined acts–such as “mischief” and “insulting gestures”–were crimes, but only if committed by a “free negro.” Mississippi’s Vagrancy Act defined “all free negroes and mulattoes over the age of eighteen” as criminals unless they could furnish written proof of a job at the beginning of every year. (3) “Having no visible means of support” was a crime being committed by almost all the freed slaves. So was “loitering” (staying in the same place) and “vagrancy” (wandering).
Many of the new convicts were leased. The convict lease system had a big advantage for the enslavers: since they did not own the convicts, they lost nothing by working them to death. For example, the death rate among leased Alabama black convicts during just one year (1869) was 41 percent. (4) Much of the railroad system throughout the South was built by leased convicts, often packed in rolling iron cages moved from job to job, working in such hellish conditions that their life expectancy rarely exceeded two years. (5)
Besides leasing convicts, states expanded their own prison slavery. The infrastructure of many southern states was built and maintained by convicts. For example, aged African-American women convicts dug the campus of Georgia State College, and prisoners as young as twelve worked in chain gangs to maintain the streets of Atlanta. (6) Some states went into big business, selling products of convict labor. Hence the vast state prison plantations established in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, where cotton picked by prisoners was manufactured into cloth by other prisoners in prison cotton mills. These plantations dwarfed the largest cotton plantations of the slave South in size, brutality–and profitability.
The stigma associated with being an ex-felon in America is unlike anything a person can comprehend unless they walk in the shoes of ex-felons. People get ill everyday but they somehow recover and are able to seek opportunity and they are made whole. Ex-felons on the other hand suffer for a lifetime for decisions that they made in the spur of the moment. Some people understand the dynamics associated with persons who struggle daily to regain their respect and dignity in their communities because they were previously convicted of a felony. Then there are those who believe that once a person has been convicted of a felony they should be treated as felons and denied opportunities for the rest of their lives. We have programs in every state that offers assistance to ex-felons being released from prison, yet, every time ex-felons complete applications for employment, they are constantly reminded that some things never change.
In America ex-felons carry the stigma of being convicted for life. A conviction is like the metaphorical scarlet letter. When people see you they see your conviction because many folks in America will never let you forget that you committed a crime.
Today we are beginning to witness a paradigm shift in how ex-felons are treated. Unfortunately it is not because of the reasons that we would think. Ex-felons are treated different now because of the economy. Many states, counties and cities are receiving fewer funds for housing prisoners and have released prisoners who in times past they deemed posed threats to society. Decisions such as these makes rational people think about whether these people actually ever posed a threat to society in the first place.
According to the research, there are approximately 2.8 million ex-felons currently locked up in jails and prisons in the U.S. African American make up approximately 47% of the inmate population in the U.S. yet they account for only 12.7 % of the population in the U. S. African Americans are disproportionately represented in every state in the U.S. This means that their percentage in the prison population is greater than their percentage in the state’s general population. Sixty (60%) of the one million people who are released from prison return to prison within 3 years many of them much quicker!
Today Ex-felons are visible in every facet of life. America and Americans are becoming more tolerant of ex-felons in sports, media, education, military and areas in which felons benefit organizations but corporate America and political entities continue to maintain a strict stance against ex-felons. However, there are states such as Louisiana who allow ex-felons to run for public office after being released from probation or parole for fifteen years.
Ex-felons have a much lower rate of recidivating when they are released to stable living environment and caring families. Without these two safety nets most ex-felons are DOA-Doomed on Arrival. Ex-felons who are released from prison and acquire gainful employment, have the support of their love ones, and are connected to a higher power are much more likely to stay out of prison longer and in many cases never return.
No ex-felon should be punished for life. Once ex-felons are released from prison they should be treated like any other citizen. Corporations who do not hire ex-felons based on their criminal records only, in my opinion should not be supported by the ex-felons or their families. In some recent research in which I surveyed 100 of the largest corporations in Texas, many of the HR Departments responded to the questions of Do your corporation hire ex-felons by saying that each decision is made on a case by case basis. That was a common response from employers. In my book “Why Are So Many Black Folks In Jail”, I constantly remind readers that if corporations refuse to hire qualified ex-felons solely based on the fact that they committed a crime in their past not taking into account that they have paid their debt to society, then “if they don’t hire we don’t buy”. The best way to get people’s attention is to affect their wallets and pocketbooks! Ex-felons have much more power than they think, if they harness and organize their power!
Two Los Angeles gang members appear to have emerged armed and dangerous in the middle of Syria’s civil war, a senior counter-terrorism official confirmed to ABC News, sparking security concerns back on the West Coast.
In a video posted recently on YouTube, a heavily gang-tattooed and camouflaged duo, who call themselves “Creeper” and “Wino,” brandish AK-47s while saying that they’re “in Syria, gangbangin’.”
Though a version of the video appeared to have been posted online just in recent days, the footage first came to the attention of authorities a month ago, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief for Counterterrorism Mike Downing told ABC News Sunday.
“My organized crime and gang investigators found it online and on Facebook,” Downing said. “We’re kind of concerned about their recruitment and whatever other associates they have here… We predicted this would happen — the [organized crime and terrorism] convergence. What we’re worried about is the ones we don’t know about here or coming back to the U.S.”
Disturbing: This image shows a young girl wearing Disney pajamas pointing an AK-47 rifle at the camera. The image was recovered during a massive crackdown on the Rollin’ 30s Harlem Crips gang in LA
Violence: In another shocking image a young boy points a handgun at the camera
Immigration law enforcement has been a key ingredient contributing to the success of criminal gang suppression efforts in many jurisdictions across the United States. Since 2005, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested more than 8,000 gangsters from more than 700 different gangs as part of a special initiative known as Operation Community Shield. This effort has produced incalculable public safety benefits for American communities, despite being criticized periodically by immigrant and civil liberties advocates that are consistently opposed to all immigration law enforcement.
Local governments and law enforcement agencies that shun involvement in immigration law enforcement are missing an opportunity to protect their communities from criminal immigrant gang activity. Policymakers should take further steps to institutionalize partnerships between state and local law enforcement agencies and ICE in order to address gang and other crime problems with a connection to immigration.
Immigrant gangs1 are considered a unique public safety threat due to their members’ propensity for violence and their involvement in transnational crime. The latest national gang threat assessment noted that Hispanic gang membership has been growing, especially in the Northeast and the South, and that areas with new immigrant populations are especially vulnerable to gang activity. 2 A large share of the immigrant gangsters in the most notorious gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Surenos-13, and 18th Street are illegal aliens. Their illegal status means they are especially vulnerable to law enforcement, and local authorities should take advantage of the immigration tools available in order to disrupt criminal gang activity, remove gang members from American communities, and deter their return. Once explained, these measures find much support, especially in immigrant communities where gang crime is rampant.
On Monday, November 11, 1918—95 years ago tomorrow—in a train car on a railroad siding in northern France in the wee hours of the morning, a group of German, French, and British men wrote their names on a piece of paper. In so doing, they brought an end to the Great War, the European War, the World War, as it was known then.
It had been fought as “the war to end all wars.” Out of its ending arose the League of Nations, the first international organization whose purpose was to achieve and maintain world peace. The kind of devastation seen in the trenches—tens of millions of young men killed, and wounded, and missing—could never happen again.
But one thing led to another, and we humans did what we humans do, and trouble did arise again. And pretty soon they had to add a roman numeral after “the World War,” because another great conflict was exploding everywhere. In ghettos and concentration camps, in firefights and dogfights and naval battles, yet more millions were killed, and wounded, and disappeared, until 1945, when new armistices were signed and the fighting ended again.
Out of the ending of World War II arose the United Nations, a renewed effort at international diplomacy and peace. As details of the horrors of the Holocaust emerged, the world united around two words: Never Again.
But one thing led to another, and we humans did what we humans do, and trouble did arise again. There was Korea, and Vietnam, and Kuwait, and Iraq, and Afghanistan… There was Pol Pot in Cambodia and Idi Amin in Uganda. There were the Serbs and the Croats and the Kosovar Albanians in Yugoslavia, and the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda. There were the Contras in Nicaragua and the Generals in Chile.
Today, in 2014, there are civil wars in Syria and Somalia. There are insurgencies in Yemen and Iraq. There are drug-related conflicts in Mexico and Colombia. There is inter-religious fighting in Israel-Palestine. There is inter-ethnic fighting in Sudan and the Congo. There is gang violence in Hartford and New Haven and Bridgeport and Boston.
One thing leads to another, and we humans do what we humans do, and over and over again, we end up in trouble. When we look at human history—the past century, the past millennium, the entire arc of our existence—it is easy to feel like we’re caught in a never-ending cycle of violence and death and destruction. It is easy to think that these conflicts are intractable, that more fighting is inevitable, that the ideal of world peace is an unachievable pipe dream.
And that’s why we need the prophets. That’s why we need visions from the likes of Jeremiah. That’s why we need the message we heard this morning. We need to be reminded of God’s promise that violence will not be the end of us—that peace will prevail at the last.
Jeremiah was no stranger to cycles of violence and death and destruction. More than six centuries before the time of Jesus, Jeremiah was born into a world torn by political and military instability. The Israelite kingdoms were divided between north and south. The Babylonian Empire was gaining strength, and eventually it laid siege to Jerusalem. The king was deposed and replaced by his son; the son was then deposed himself and replaced by his uncle. Eventually, the city was sacked and the Temple was destroyed by the invading forces. All the rulers and leaders were exiled, some to Babylon and others to Egypt. Jeremiah was carried off with them and remained a refugee in Egypt until he died. Jeremiah was no stranger to cycles of violence.
If you’ve read much from the book of Jeremiah, you’ll know that many of his prophecies foretell destruction and devastation. But the one we heard today is different. The one we heard today promises restoration and renewal, peace and prosperity.
The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness…
I have loved you with an everlasting love…
Again I will build you up…
Again you shall take your tambourines
and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers…
Again you shall plant vineyards…
and shall enjoy the fruit.
Jeremiah says that God promises a world in which those who have survived the sword, the veterans who make it home from their deployments, will be met with grace—with healing for their shrapnel wounds, and support for their struggles with depression and PTSD, and encouragement and embrace as they readjust to peacetime living.
Jeremiah says that God promises a world in which building-up outpaces tearing-down—a world in which planes will airlift food rather than bombs, and builders will build schools rather than prisons.
Jeremiah says that God promises a world in which everyone can come home again—the refugees scattered to the four winds, and the soldiers killed in far-away battles, and the estranged family members who haven’t spoken in years.
Jeremiah says that God promises a world of restoration and renewal, peace and prosperity. Jeremiah says that God promises. There’s no maybe about it. God says, “There shall be a day.” No matter how tangled-up our world might be now, no matter how checkered our past or uncertain our future, there shall be a day when all who survived the sword will find grace, when all who are hungry will be fed, when all who weep will rejoice, when all who are divided will be reunited, when peace will reign at the last—there shall be such a day.
Race, as it relates to human beings, is not biological in nature. Yet, many Americans still hold the belief that Asians, Africans, Europeans, Indigenous North Americans and others are peoples of different races. I know this because I’ve polled tons of folks who still maintain that because we “look” differently physically that we’re somehow fundamentally different, and this is not the case.
The concept of race was invented to divide people, to justify the disenfranchisement of certain groups, to exploit those groups for economic and political gains and to normalize the idea of race so that the aforementioned activities could continue indefinitely.
It’s clear to me that we’re living in that “indefinitey,” because we are a happily divided people, with a perpetual upper and underclass; both believing that our current state of affairs is normal.
The problem is that there are no racial differences, just socio-economic ones connected to political, educational, and health statuses. Historically, those in power, such as political leaders, media moguls, or privileged educators, have exploited the masses by ensuring that ideas of normality and abnormality were sustained.
Some philosophers and historians believe that these ideas are basic to America structure. If this is the case, then the idea of a post-racist America might be just that, an idea.
We, then, cannot (not may not) ever be free of our racist relationships. As much as I would like to be free of racism, I’m not suggesting that it’s actually possible. In fact, I, wholeheartedly doubt it.
So, what I propose is that we stop lying about our racist history, both from the past and the one we’re living today. I would rather we admit that to be racist is to be American, as we founded and built our country holding truths that allowed us to take a people’s land and strip another people of their heritage. I would rather we admit that our scientists and politicians deliberately fabricated “facts” to justify the disenfranchisement of these Others for political and economical gain.
Let’s assume we’ll never be free of our racist ideas; why not try to simply challenge them by acting in ways that speaks the truth that “all men” (and women) “are created equal.” Truth-telling or realty-telling is done in language, different texts, therefore, to create a new reality–living text– is to tell another story via a new action, a new behavior that reflects a world community that respects all of its inhabitants, dare I say, equally.
With this ideal in mind, the idea for “Do Something Different” (DSD) was born. Launched in 2006, we started this initiative at Nova Southeastern University. This initiative is designed as a grassroots movement where participants would challenge themselves to “fight the power” within themselves and respond to the views of others that support the idea that we are indeed one people.
From our history we have enough data to declare what does not work. Our definition of “fighting the power” is not marching with picket signs or sitting in places to make an establishment change its policies. Fighting the power in this case is confronting one’s own racist ideologies. The same ideologies that have slain leaders and killed soldiers.
DSD was created to challenge thinking people who know that there is only one race — the human one. Today my challenge to us all is to acknowledge that we’ve all embraced many lies about who we are as it relates to others. Let’s admit that we’ve probably accepted truths about our own intelligence, social status, natural abilities, educational level and physical appearance that are grounded in many lies that have either propelled us forward or held us back.
These so-called truths are distortions that no longer have to keep us from being the one nation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about, or that our Pledge of Allegiance purports.
Our condition as a nation will not change without the everyday, intentional actions of each one of us. This is how change becomes less or a lofty dream and more of a reality.
The impatience that characterizes discussions of race and racism in our so-called color-blind society has its roots in the momentous legislative changes of the 1960s. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965, and 1968 reached into nearly every aspect of daily life—from segregated facilities to voting to housing—and represented a long overdue re-installation of the equality principle in our social compact. The question was what it would take—and from whom—to get to equality.
Was racial equality something that could be had without sacrifice? If not, then who would be forced to participate and who would be exempt? As implementation of the laws engendered a far-reaching bureaucracy of agencies, rules, and programs for everything from affirmative action hiring goals to federal contracting formula, the commitment was quickly tested. For a great many who already opposed the changes, patience was quickly exhausted. As welfare rolls rapidly increased, crime surged, and the real and perceived burdens of busing took their toll, many voters pointed to the apparent failure of a growing federal government to fix the problems it was essentially paid to cure. Among Democratic voters this made for unsteady alliances and vulnerable anxieties. People don’t live in policy and statistics as much as they do through anecdote and personal burdens. A riot here, a horrific crime there, a job loss or perhaps the fiery oratory of a public personality could tip a liberal-leaning person’s thinking toward more conservative conclusions—or at least fuel her impatience. Impatience would ossify into anger, turning everything into monetary costs, and making these costs the basis for political opposition to a liberal state. As it happened, this process moves the date of our supposed final triumph over racism from the mid-1960s to at least the mid-1980s. In the end, impatience won.
What I call impatience, others have characterized as a simmering voter ambivalence—even antagonism, in the case of working-class whites—to civil rights remedies, one that was susceptible to the peculiar backlash politics that elected both Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush president. Language was central to this strategy, and the language that stuck was colorblindness. As Thomas Byrne Edsall and Mary Edsall wrote in “Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics,” “In facing an electorate with sharply divided commitments on race—theoretically in favor of egalitarian principle but hostile to many forms of implementation—the use of a race-free political language proved crucial to building a broad-based, center-right coalition.” Ronald Reagan managed to communicate a message that embodied all the racial resentments around poverty programs, affirmative action, minority set-asides, busing, crime, and the Supreme Court without mentioning race, something his conservative forebears—Barry Goldwater, George Wallace, and Richard Nixon—could not quite do. The linchpin was “costs” and “values.” Whenever “racism” was raised, it became an issue of “reverse racism” against whites. The effect was the conversion of millions of once fiscally liberal, middle-class suburban Democrats to the Republican Party. Issues identified with race—the “costs of liberalism”—fractured the very base of the Democratic Party. In the 1980 presidential election, for example, 22 percent of Democrats voted Republican.
By 1984, when Ronald Reagan and George Bush beat Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro in the presidential election, many white Democratic voters had come to read their own party’s messages through what Edsall calls a “racial filter.” In their minds, higher taxes were directly attributable to policies of a growing federal government; they were footing the bill for minority preference programs. If the public argument was cast as wasteful spending on people of weak values, the private discussions were explicitly racial. For instance, Edsall quotes polling studies of “Reagan Democrats” in Macomb County—the union friendly Detroit suburbs that won the battle to prevent cross-district school desegregation plans in 1973—that presents poignant evidence of voter anger: “These white Democratic defectors express a profound distaste for blacks, a sentiment that pervades almost everything they think about government and politics. . . . Blacks constitute the explanation for their [white defectors’] vulnerability and for almost everything that has gone wrong in their lives; not being black is what constitutes being middle class; not living with blacks is what makes a neighborhood a decent place to live. These sentiments have important implications for Democrats, as virtually all progressive symbols and themes have been redefined in racial and pejorative terms.”
By 1988, these same voters had endorsed tax revolts across the country and had become steadfast suburbanites, drawing clearer lines between a suburban good life and the crime and crack-infested city. Still they were angry, as magazine articles chronicled the rising political significance of what would be known as the “Angry White Male” voter. George Bush, down seventeen points in the presidential election polls during midsummer, overcame that deficit with TV ads about murderous black convicts raping white women while on furlough. That and a pledge never to raise taxes seemed to be enough to vanquish Bush’s liberal challenger, Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. What’s important to recognize in this transition is how as recently as twenty years ago, Americans’ social lives were very much embroiled in racial controversy—despite the obfuscatory veneer of colorblind language to the contrary. Our politics followed. The election of Bill Clinton represented a distinct centrist turn among Democrats toward Republican language and themes and away from rights, the “liberal” label, and the federal safety net. The question we might ask about our current race relations is, only a couple of decades removed from this political history, what would compel us to assume that we are beyond the legacy of our racial conflicts?
The racial polarization that connected these political outcomes was deliberately fed by national Republican candidates in order to do more than roll back civil rights. It also served to install “supply-side economics,” a system of regressive tax-based reforms that contributed mightily to the costs of income inequality we currently face. That era—which arguably ended with the election of President Barack Obama—illustrates two points central to my examination of civic connectivity. The first is that the economic underside of racial polarization proved no more than the old okey doke. The second is that localism contains its own contradictions, which have come due in our time. Let me explain.
Only racism could achieve the ideological union of the Republican rich with the working man (and woman). Nothing else could fuse their naturally opposed interests. The essence of supply-side economics was its belief in the importance of liberating the affluent from tax and regulatory burdens, a faith not typically shared by lower-income households who might at best see benefits “trickle down” to them. In fact, they often paid more under tax-reform schemes of the 1980s. Edsall provides data on the combined federal tax rate that include all taxes—income, Social Security, and so forth. Between 1980 and 1990, families in the bottom fifth of all earners saw their rates increase by 16.1 percent; it increased by 6 percent for those in the second-lowest fifth (the lower middle class); and it increased by 1.2 percent for those in the middle fifth (the middle middle class). But those in the second-highest fifth of all income earners saw a cut in their tax rate by 2.2 percent during that decade; and those in the top fifth got a 5.5 percent decrease in their rate. Overall, the richest 10 percent of American earners received a 7.3 percent decrease in their combined federal tax rate. The top 1 percent? A 14.4 percent cut during the 1980s. Clearly this hurt the middle class, as the vaunted trickle down never arrived. But it was working-class whites who bought the message that this model of fiscal conservatism, married to social conservatism in the form of a rollback of redistributive programs they perceived to favor blacks, would benefit them. It did not. Yet it established a popular political rhetoric by which lower-income whites can be counted on to take up against “liberal” policies that may actually serve their interests as long as opposition can be wrapped in the trappings of “traditional values,” “law and order,” “special interests,” “reverse racism,” and “smaller government.” This was pure okey doke based on an erroneous notion of zero-sum mutuality—that is, that whatever “the blacks” get hurts me.
Which also demonstrates the contradictions of localism. Remember my earlier argument that localism—or local control expressed formally through home rule grants, as it’s sometimes known—became the spatial successor to Jim Crow segregation. Through racially “neutral” land use and housing policy, it kept white communities white after the fall of legal segregation in the late 1950s and mid-1960s. Yet here’s the contradiction. While voters opposed to civil rights remedies and Great Society programs followed Republican leadership toward fiscal conservatism at the national level, they maintained their fiscal liberalism at the local level. The tax base they created for themselves through property taxes in suburbia could be contained and spent locally. Edsall describes the irony this way: “Suburbanization has permitted whites to satisfy liberal ideals revolving around activist government, while keeping to a minimum the number of blacks and the poor who share in government largess.” Of course, all of this worked best when “suburbs” meant middle-class white people and “cities” (or today’s “urban” areas) always signaled black and brown people. There was no mutuality of interests between the two kinds of places. It also worked when low property taxes—together with generous state aid—could reliably pay for great local public services like schools, libraries, and fire protection. It was a terrific deal. But that was then. Now, neither is true. The line between cities and suburbs has blurred into regions, and minorities and whites are busy crossing back and forth to work, live, and shop. Most of the fragmented municipalities that sprawled across suburbia are no longer able to sustain their own budgets, threatening the quality of their services, despite unimaginably high property taxes. The assumptions have not held.
Perhaps now we should consider the racially polarizing policies that became the norm under Reagan’s failed experiment. We tried them. Some believed fervently in them. But it is clear that they didn’t work and are not in our long-term national or local interest. There remains a legacy of racism, however, that continues to harm some of us disproportionately and all of us eventually. It’s to those three examples that I now turn. I will only write on two out of the three, the one I will not write on is Predatory Lending.
If I’m right that the kind of racism that still works to seriously limit minority lives is more structural than intentional, and that much of it works its harm by the dynamics of place, then the first example of racism has to be environmental racism. This is little more than the straight forward fear of being killed by your neighborhood. It can happen in a number of ways.
The third example of contemporary racism is about the near-perma- nent limitation on life chances for some that is caused by our country’s rules about criminal justice. These rules and practices—from police behavior and incentives to prosecutorial power and on through the policies behind our criminal laws—have also come a long way since the 1960s. But the clear direction has been toward mass incarceration of human beings who, upon release, re-enter a society that despises those who have been incarcerated. The vast majority of these people are young black and brown men. When I first discovered the patterns of our criminal justice system, I was reminded of the absurdist bureaucracy that condemns the character Josef K. in Franz Kafka’s book “The Trial.” Josef is a working man suddenly arrested and charged with an unknown crime and forced into the impossible dilemma of defending his life amid a system of justice with no known logic, rules, or fairness. Frustrated and broken, Josef eventually dies without ever knowing why the state wanted to discipline him.
That’s pretty awful stuff. But our system of justice—leading inexorably to confinement for so many people—differs from Kafka’s in one frightening sense. It appears to have a purpose. The point is to marginalize a certain proportion of the population. Why would a free society encourage marginalization through the power of its government? According to some scholars and advocacy institutions that follow crime policy, the system for fighting crime has become a politically profitable, financially lucrative, self-perpetuating business—the business of mass incarceration. The main proponent of this view is Michelle Alexander, who argues in her book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” that the goal of our laws since about 1980 has been to substitute a new system of social control on black and Latino communities after the fall of the Jim Crow system. Whether she is right or whether the case can be made that the justice system is at least rigged against black and brown people demands a review of circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is often used in the absence of direct evidence—smoking guns, eyewitnesses, taped confessions of racial animus—and is accepted all the time in criminal cases. Circumstantial evidence raises inferences that something is true; the stronger the evidence, the more compelling the inference. Before we get to it, however, let’s look at the facts of the “crime” itself, the disproportionate targeting and incarceration of black and brown men, their families, and, once again, the places where they tend to live.
According to Alexander and others, the facts begin in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected. Crime had been rising during the 1970s, but the epidemic of crack cocaine that transformed the public’s idea of criminal behavior did not actually occur until about 1984. (I happened to grow up in one of the earliest crack neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan and saw it engulf some of my best friends.) Nevertheless, as Alexander points out, President Ronald Reagan declared a “War on Drugs” in 1982, a full two years before we knew what crack was. The statistics begin from about there, when fighting crime went from being a local police activity to a coordinated approach involving the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, new laws about drug offenses, mandatory sentencing, constitutional guarantees, and a whole lot of media coverage.
Incarceration rates exploded in the early 1980s and have only recently begun to trail off. Between 1980 and 2000, the prison and jail inmate population increased three hundred thousand to over two million; by 2007, seven million people were either locked up, on probation, or on parole. For blacks, the drug-related incarceration rates quadrupled in just three years, then began a steady but precipitous increase. In 2000, black incarceration rates were twenty-six times what they were in 1983. Latino incarceration rates for drug-related offenses were twenty-two times their 1983 levels. Whites, too, experienced an increase of eight times the rate of drug-related incarceration during the same period. Put another way, in 2006, one out of every fourteen black men was locked up compared to one in 106 white men. No other country imprisons its people as frequently or for as long as does the United States. Nobody. It was not always this way. What changed was the conservative backlash on drugs, part of what Thomas Edsall referred to as the coded call by Barry Goldwater, George Wallace, and Richard Nixon for “law and order.” As Alexander writes:
Convictions for drug offenses are the single most important cause of the explosion in incarceration rates in the United States. Drug offenses alone account for two-thirds of the rise in the federal inmate population and more than half of the rise in state prisoners between 1985 and 2000. Approximately half a million are in prison or jail for a drug offense today, compared to an estimated 41,100 in 1980—an increase of 1,100 percent. Drug arrests have tripled since 1980. As a result, more than 31 million people have been arrested for drug offenses since the drug war began. . . . The vast majority of those arrested are not charged with serious offenses.
Circumstantial Evidence of a Racist System
What the larger national statistics on racial disparities in crime fighting mean is that, because of the correspondence between race and economic status, black and brown men in poor communities have an entirely different experience of constitutional freedom than do the rest of us. Thanks to racial and economic segregation, we already know that they are not hard for the police to find. In ghettos and barrios across the nation, much higher proportions of young men are routinely stopped and searched by police, arrested or detained, released or charged, and if charged, then usually pleading to something that stands as a conviction on their records. A great many are then incarcerated. The cycle then starts over as they become unemployable, uneducated, and part of an insidious interdependency on one of the best-financed arms of government—law enforcement and the courts. Once they have served time for a felony conviction, they are persona non grata in most job settings, denied housing benefits and student loans, disallowed on juries, and, in many states, even lose the right to vote. Many states have elaborate laws that make the ex-offender a debtor responsible for paying many of the costs of his legal assistance, jail book-in fees, court costs, and child-support enforcement—all on penalty of being returned to jail if he doesn’t pay. The pariah status of ex-offenders ripples out in permanent multiples as these are the sons, husbands, and fathers of whole communities. This draconian state of affairs ought to be justified. The first question we should ask is whether the focus on people from these areas and not others is supported by facts on the ground.
The answer seems to be not at all. Crack had not even appeared in U.S. cities when President Reagan declared war on drugs, but what followed was an unprecedented federal commitment to funding drug-related crime. Almost immediately crime budgets rose, creating incentives to use the money in order to keep getting it. For instance, Alexander reports that FBI antidrug funding jumped from $8 million to $95 million between 1980 and 1984, the Department of Defense anti-drug budget jumped from $33 million to $1.042 million between 1981 and 1991, and Drug Enforcement Administration spending rose from $86 million to $1.026 million during the same decade. Meanwhile, crack hysteria became ubiquitous in media accounts, the scourge of a generation that had to be stopped at all costs. However, it was not a scourge everywhere, only among ghetto communities. This can be seen in the disparate treatment for cocaine-related crimes that was legislated by Congress as part of the $2 billion crime bill in 1986. That law and the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act authorized new mandatory minimums for first-time offenders, revoked benefits for people connected with drug busts, and added the death penalty for some federal drug offenses. Yet the focus was always on crack cocaine, not powder cocaine. Of course, crack was the cheap, rock-based ghetto alternative to the expensive powder snorted disproportionately by whites. The difference in mandatory penalties? You’d get the same prison time for one gram of crack as you would for one hundred grams of powder. The former essentially punished users and small-time dealers, while the latter only dealers.
Studies of police practices demonstrate a tendency to focus on not where the drugs are as much as where the drugs are easiest to find. For example, a Seattle University study published in 2001 found that racial stereotypes permeated Seattle policing and explained high rates of black drug arrests, not offending behavior. In fact, Seattle police followed their stereotypes even when actual tips directed them elsewhere. “Seattle residents were far more likely to report suspected narcotics activities in residences—not outdoors—but police devoted their resources to open-air drug markets and to the one precinct that was least likely to be identified as the site of suspected drug activity in citizen complaints,” according to Alexander. “In fact, although hundreds of outdoor drug transactions were recorded in predominantly white areas of Seattle, police concentrated their drug enforcement efforts in one downtown drug market where the frequency of drug transactions was much lower.”
Well, given the huge disparity between the arrest, charging, and incarceration rates by race, were black and brown drug offenders and dealers more numerous than whites? Again the answer seems to be not at all. A 2000 study showed that white youth were a third more likely to sell drugs than were blacks. Government data show that “blacks were no more likely to be guilty of drug crimes than whites and that white youth were actually the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to be guilty of illegal drug possession or sales,” Alexander writes. White youths are also more often in emergency rooms than are blacks as a result of their drug use. And it’s not like drug sales present a clandestine opportunity for racial mixing. As Alexander reminds us, “Whites tend to sell to whites; blacks to blacks. University students tend to sell to each other. Rural whites, for their part, don’t make a special trip to the ’hood to purchase marijuana. They buy it from somebody down the road.”
The last question is the thorniest: why did we build a system that seems hell-bent on funding the complete marginalization of so many black and brown people, many of them non-dangerous drug users doing what even more whites were doing? This is difficult to answer, but any attempt has to take at least two paths, the administrative and the political. By administrative, I’m referring to the policies followed by law enforcement agencies and districts attorney together with the direction they were given by courts. After all, crime fighting may be a business, but it’s a business subject to constitutional constraints. By political, I’m referring to what might have been behind all those policies—that is, what interests were served by our obsession with locking up men (and increasingly women) of color.
As for the administrative side of the criminal justice system, it seems clear that by the mid-1980s a great many financial incentives aligned to make fighting drugs in minority neighborhoods a top priority for police departments, which wanted larger budgets, and prosecutors’ offices, which wanted to bolster their tough-on-crime bona fides. In this way, the momentum toward a system of mass incarceration became self-executing. Specifically, the creation of two government funding streams—the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Enforcement Assistance Program as well as federal forfeiture laws—launched continuous incentives to police forces to make arrest numbers regardless of the impact on crime reduction. Since 1988, according to Alexander, Byrne grants increased the funding and weaponry to localities willing (who wouldn’t?) to establish specialized narcotics task forces. This is why your local police precinct now has such military hardware as M16 rifles, grenade launchers, and Black Hawk helicopters. This is also why every American now knows what a SWAT team is, even though they were originally designed to be a specialized few used for hostage situations and bank heists. Alexander writes that in the entire United States, “[b]y the early 1980s, there were three thousand annual SWAT deployments, by 1996 there were thirty thousand, and by 2001 there were forty thousand.” Beyond the incentives to beef up, however, were incentives to eat what you killed under forfeiture laws that allow police to keep the cash and assets seized during drug raids. These raids might be based on mere suspicion, yet the fruits of the raid could be kept unless challenged. Thanks to arcane rules that, until very recently, made it difficult and costly to get one’s property back, 80–90 percent of forfeitures went unchallenged. As Eric Blumenson and Eva Nilsen demonstrated in their research, forfeitures gave police a pecuniary interest in the drug trade. The more you bust, the more you keep.
Prosecutorial power has also increased dramatically since the 1980s while budgets for free legal representation for indigent defendants have shrunk. The power comes largely from the threat of harsh mandatory sentences that became vogue during the crack epidemic. Prosecutors have unreviewable discretion to charge and overcharge as they see fit, a formidable plea bargaining chip even in the absence of strong evidence of guilt. “[S]imply by charging someone with an offense carrying a mandatory sentence of ten to fifteen years or life,” Alexander writes, “prosecutors are able to force people to plead guilty rather than risk a decade or more in prison. Prosecutors admit that they routinely charge people with crimes for which they technically have probable cause but which they seriously doubt they could ever win in court.” Given the financial costs of a capable defense, prosecutors rarely ever face that risk. Almost nobody goes to trial.
Meanwhile, the interpretation of a criminal defendant’s liberty interests changed dramatically, as a much more conservative Supreme Court continues to overhaul the constitutional overhaul that occurred briefly during the 1960s and 1970s. The Court has blessed a free range of police behaviors that might surprise many Americans if they (or their sons) were affected by them. Even without probable cause to suspect that someone’s doing wrong, police may now stop and detain people on the street or in their cars, frisk them, and even conduct full-fledged searches as long as they receive “consent.” Yet as you may assume, people rarely tell cops no, and cops are under no legal obligation to tell them they have a right to refuse. These limitations on the Fourth Amendment have led to raids, street sweeps, and other tactics that can only be called fishing expeditions. The DEA’s Operation Pipeline, for example, trained officers to do just that. According to Alexander, “It has been estimated that 95 percent of Pipeline stops yield no illegal drugs. One study found that up to 99 percent of traffic stops made by federally funded narcotics task forces result in no citation and that 98 percent of task-force searches during traffic stops are discretionary searches in which the officer searches the car with the driver’s verbal ‘consent’ but has no other legal authority to do so.” These are the tools that encouraged so much racial profiling across the nation during the last decade and a half. In New York City, following the deaths of unarmed black immigrants by police, racial profiling of black and brown men under the strident leadership of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani drew national attention. However, little changed under his more moderate successor, Michael Bloomberg. “The NYPD stopped five times more people in 2005 than in 2002—the overwhelming majority of whom were African American or Latino,” Alexander notes.
According to a study by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Police Department stopped and frisked about 533,000 men in 2012, 87 percent of whom were black or Latino and 90 percent were innocent of wrongdoing. Though the program is justified as a way to find illegal guns, most of the arrests were for marijuana possession (5,000), not guns (729). As a result of Supreme Court decisions since 1987, claims of racist police or prosecutorial practices are nearly impossible to prove.
Why would our politics allow us to continue spending so lavishly to lock up so much human capital when the results are so racially skewed and offer so little evidence of crime-fighting success? Alexander’s answer is that mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow, a deliberate form of social control over racial minorities. It may be. Certainly, the policies that gave rise to these funding priorities, exercises of discretion, and constitutional interpretations followed a clear “law and order” path that began after the 1960s urban riots, but reached full steam under Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. For politicians everywhere, presenting oneself as tough on crime has been a cherished virtue among voters for decades now, a sure way to prevent us from slipping into lawlessness. What is odd, however, is the concentration of crime. Here again, segregation plays a hand. Since crime is concentrated in areas of concentrated poverty, the broader public’s willingness to fund tough and expensive policing seems irrational. That same public expresses no such desire to fund schools in areas of concentrated poverty at higher levels, for instance. Maybe Alexander asserts too much intention on the part of the myriad forces of social control, a coordination of efforts that seems too perfect for the government we know. Yet something is clearly wrong with a criminal justice system that produces so much injustice. And now that crack has at least subsided as an epidemic and prison costs are crushing state and local budgets, people are rethinking our incarceration policies. But are they doing so for the right reasons?