Pubdate: Fri, 14 Aug 2015
Source: Star-News (Wilmington, NC)
Copyright: 2015 Wilmington Morning Star
Author: George Vlasits


The op/ed on mass incarceration (StarNews, Aug. 8) points out the 
fact that the United States jails people at a much higher rate than 
even China or Russia. It states that this is due to the war on drugs 
and "tough-on-crime"  policies, and that black males are imprisoned 
at more than six times the rate of white males. All true, but what it 
fails to add is that mass incarceration has created a new class of 
millions of "untouchables"  (prisoners and those who have served 
their time), who are denied basic rights and who can be legally 
discriminated against. Once you enter the system, you become part of 
a permanent underclass -- poor, powerless and mostly black and brown.

Why are the large majority of those caught up in the war on drugs 
minorities, despite the fact that drug use is roughly equal in all 
social groups? Why are conviction rates greater and sentences harsher 
for blacks than for whites who commit the exact same crimes?

Many are jailed for minor offences like possession of drugs, etc. 
Even after release, these young men, segregated in poor communities 
of color, are marginalized, unable to get jobs, housing and so on. 
They suffer from the stigma of a criminal record, but no one seems to care.

Is this The New Jim Crow?

George Vlasits, Wilmington
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