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.
The tactic has gotten very little public attention, but it is for many black residents the mark of policing problems in the nation’s capital: militaristic, seemingly arbitrary, and reeking of racial disparity.
Re-entry mediation is available pre-release in Maryland prisons. Re-entry mediation decreases recidivism. But to participate in re-entry mediation, family members have to get to the prison. For some, it's a trip they can't afford.
"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.
In the summer of 2014, a team of exceptional young men worked with artists Esteban del Valle and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez to research, design, and fabricate a mural in Brownsville, Brooklyn exposing how the United States judicial system has failed young men of color and their communities.
During the course of the project, the youth reflected on how mass incarceration has impacted their lives, their families, and their neighborhoods, with special attention paid to Brownsville where 1 in 12 residents between the ages of 16 and 24 are incarcerated.
"...when we talk about a world without prisons, a world without police violence, a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, quality education, a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism – we are talking about a world that doesn’t currently exist.
But being able to envision these worlds equips us with tools to begin making these dreams reality."
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