The dreaded squat-and-cough: You have to do it every time you enter the jail. In a room with about 40 other people, you strip naked, lift up your breasts, open your vagina, squat down and cough on command. If nothing falls out, you get up and put on your jail uniform as fast as you can. After the ordeal, they give each person an orange juice and a microwaved burrito. It’s the closest thing you get to compassion in jail.
In his October 2015 cover story, "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the devastating impact decades of mass incarceration has had on African-American families.
A breakthrough event pegged to this landmark piece will provide a definitive exploration and razor-edged analysis of the complicated history of the nation’s justice system and the future of prison reform.
"In the year since Michael Brown was killed, Americans have focused their attention on the harsh treatment of black Americans at the hands of police. A shocking number have been killed in encounters with police, in the year since Ferguson and in the years before. Thousands more have suffered subtler forms of discrimination in the criminal justice system, where social science research shows striking racial disparities at nearly every level—from arrest rates, to bail amounts, to sentence lengths, to probation hearing outcomes. We combed a vast body of research to find the clearest indicators of racial disparities at different phases of the justice process. The eight charts below offer a grim portrait of what it’s like to be a black American in our nation’s justice system."
"If your concept of ‘justice' means convictions for cops, then you should be very concerned because this current system as designed is likely not to deliver. If your concept of ‘justice' means prison time for cops, then you should be despondent because this system as currently constituted almost NEVER delivers that. If your concept of ‘justice' means Black people being able to live our lives free from state violence, then today is not a day of celebration." - Maraime Kaba @PrisonCulture
The seeds of change were planted, but it would take years for them to grow. In federal prison, there was so much violence and negativity around me, I went back to my old ways. Free Minds never gave up on me though, sending me books, letters, birthday...
The Challenge will support jurisdictions across the country working to safely reduce over-reliance on jails, with a particular focus on addressing disproportionate impact on low-income individuals and communities of color. Core to the initiative is a competition through which the Foundation will fund up to 20 jurisdictions to design and implement plans for creating fairer, more effective local justice systems using innovative, collaborative, and evidence-based solutions.
To move toward a reconciled America, we have to do the work ourselves. Reconciliation is an ongoing and collective process. We must roll up our sleeves and do the messy, challenging, but hopeful work of creating transformed relationships and structures leading us into new futures.
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