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    Time For A Political Response to the Crisis of Mass Incarceration: Join the Campaign To End Mass Incarceration

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    • Because the U.S., with 4.5 % of the world's population, has 25% of the planet's prisoners.  We are the world's first prison state.

    • Because African Americans, who are one eighth the nation's population, are almost half it's 2.3 million prisoners, and because Latinos, also an eighth of the U.S., are more than a quarter of the locked down.

    • Because prisons do not make us safer.  Incarceration rates DO NOT match rates of crime or drug use.  Whites, blacks and Latinos have nearly identical rates of drug use, but the "war on drugs" is almost exclusively prosecuted in nonwhite and poor neighborhoods.  Local police funding is often tied to drug arrests, and nonwhites are universally charged with more serious crimes, convicted more frequently, and sentenced more harshly than whites.

    • Because former prisoners are viciously and almost universally discriminated against in housing, employment, health care and the right to vote for the rest of their lives.

    • Because if Dr. King were alive today, he too would oppose the prison state the U.S. has become.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey

    Carol Moseley-Braun Last Major Black Candidate Standing in Chicago

    The former U.S. Senator finally emerged as the Black “consensus” candidate in the city’s mayoral race. But labor activist James Thindwa says Moseley-Braun brings lots of baggage, having “managed to alienate major Democratic progressive constituencies" during her 1993-99 term. “Some energy is firming up around her now,” says Thindwa, “but that’s because there is no alternative.”

    Retaliation Against Inmates in Georgia Prisons

    Attacks against inmates by prison guards “were carried out in retaliation for the statewide prison work stoppage, and were not isolated,” said Georgia State NAACP President Edward O. Dubose, speaking for the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners Rights. Some assaults on inmates occurred after visits to prison facilities by the Coalition delegations.

    200th Anniversary of Largest U.S. Slave Rebellion

    The 1811 slave revolt near New Orleans was the biggest and most organized slave uprising in U.S. history, but “because of the power of slaveowners in Louisiana, information about the rebellion was largely suppressed,” said community historian Malcolm Suber. Over 100 slaves were killed in battle and more than 60 others were executed, their heads “placed on pikes that lined River Road between St. John’s Parish and New Orleans.”

    Cuba has been biggest medical helper to Haiti both before and after last January’s massive earthquake, says journalist and community activist Ray LeForest.

    The Tea Party is about “putting white people first,” says BAR senior columnist Margaret Kimberley. “The whole notion of a post-racial United States is a farcical one.”

    The “For the People” Summit in Washington, January 20-22, will confront the idea that “corporations are, somehow, persons with certain inalienable rights,” says Backbone Campaign leader Bill Moyer.

    The Wikileaks controversy is an excuse for governments and corporations to perfect their own cyber weapons, says Prof. Christopher Simpson, of American University, in Washington.

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    Medical Neglect Stalks Georgia Prisons

    Can't breathe? Crushing chest pains,... creeping up the side of your neck? See a doctor? In prison? Don't bet on it.

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution and New York Times Twist GA Prison Strike into a Scare Headline & Profit Opportunity

    Where most of us saw poor people reaching across lines that divided them to take a courageous stand against long odds, corporate media see something else....

    Brutal Reprisals Against Peaceful GA Inmate Strikers Confirmed. Was One Victim Hidden For Weeks By Prison Authorities?

    By BAR Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Why was Macon State Prison inmate Terrance Deane brutally beaten by prison authorities, and his condition and whereabouts concealed from his family and the public for almost two weeks? How many other inmates have been savagely attacked by correctional authorities in retaliation for the prisoner strike of December 2010?

    Community Coalition Meets With GA Corrections Officials, Visits First Prison. What Would Dr. King Say or Do?

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, with assistance from Ingemar Smith

    Last Friday members of the Concerned Coaltion to Protect Prisoner Rights met with Georgia correctional officials. The following Monday they commenced the first of a series of fact finding visits to the state's correctional institutions, seeking the reasons and right response to the stand of inmates demanding their human rights. Dr. King's annual holiday is coming up too. What would he say about the prisoners and the nation's misguided public policy of mass incarceration? What would he do, and what should we?

    GA Prison Inmate Strike Enters New Phase, Prisoners Demand Human Rights, Education, Wages For Work

    Story by Bruce A. Dixon, audio interview by Glen Ford

    Georgia prisoners who began a courageous, peaceful and nonviolent protest strike for educational opportunities, wages for their work, medical care and human rights have captured the attention of the world. Black Agenda Report intends to closely cover their continuing story. Glen Ford recorded a conversation with activist Elaine Brown and one of the striking inmates in Georgia on Wednesday, December 15.

    Update story on the strike and support efforts of the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights below the fold. Click the flash player below to listen.

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    GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    The peaceful strike begun by inmates of several Georgia state prisons continued for a second day on Friday, according to family members of some of the participants. Copyrighted news stories by AP, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and local TV stations in Macon and Atlanta quote state corrections who say several institutions were placed on lockdown beginning Thursday in anticipation of the inmate protest, on the initiative of wardens of those prisons.

    GA Prison Inmates Stage 1-Day Peaceful Strike Today

    By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia's notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other. PRESS RELEASE BELOW THE FOLD

    Dyson's Message to Black Youth: You Are Cowards to Be Blamed, Beaten and Jailed!

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

    Michael Eric Dyson, who claims to have recovered from Obama-ism, blames Black youth for failure to save the Democrats from themselves in the past election. Perhaps Dyson and his ilk should consider that non-stop police beatings, imprisonment and frameups of young Black people may “have had something to do with Obama’s 'enthusiasm gap.'” He should also ponder whether “45% unemployment for Black teens might be part of it.”

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    The Incarceration Capitol of the US: A Struggle Over the Size of New Orleans’ Jail

    by Jordan Flaherty

    The people that rule the “new,” post-Katrina New Orleans want an even bigger jail, which is partially explained by the fact that “The more people locked in Orleans Parish Prison, the higher the funding Sheriff Gusman.” However, a growing community-based movement says No. “Louisiana’s incarceration rate is by far the highest in the world – more than ten times higher than most European countries, and twenty times higher than Japan.”

    The Real Expendables: Austerity Is Community Choking

    by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

    The great euphemism of the day is “austerity” a word deployed by the rich and their servants, like President Obama, “to distract people from the fact that the country’s so-called ‘economic and deficit crises’ could be easily corrected if the wealthy are appropriately taxed and the military budget cut.” Austerity distinguishes between the rich and powerful from the poor and expendable.

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    U.S. Prison Gulag vs. Global Human Rights

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford


    In a whitewash of monumental proportions, the Obama administration refused to acknowledge vast racial disparities at every stage of the U.S. criminal justice system. "In sheer numbers, the American prison gulag dwarfs that of every other nation, and its racial composition is irrefutable proof that the American state functions as the principal enforcer of the color bar in U.S. society."


     

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    South Africa On the Potomac: Washington, D.C. and Black Incarceration

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

    Washington, DC, like other majority-Black metropolises, squeezes African Americans out of its borders through gentrification, while trapping growing proportions of those who remain in a rapacious criminal justice system. Activists charge that DC’s policy of hiring more white officers from surrounding states amounts to “coon hunting” in the nation’s capital.

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    “Felony is the New ‘N-Word”: Michelle Alexander on Mass Incarceration as “The New Jim Crow” in the Age of Obama

    by Paul Street

    The author – himself a renowned Left, anti-racist scholar and activist – calls Alexander’s work “as close to being a perfect book as you are going to see.” While established Black leadership spent most of its political capital defending affirmative action programs that never reached the masses of Black people, the U.S. was busy establishing a “new racial caste system” based on mass Black incarceration and “unimpeded by the Fourteenth Amendment and federal civil rights legislation”

     

    Down Prison Road

    folsomby David Bacon
    The scenery was bleak on the recent “March for California's Future.” Poor towns kept alive only through the incarceration of others lined the road through the San Joaquin Valley, home to “a prison population of 67,059 human beings incarcerated in 13 institutions, guarded by another 21,215 human beings, at a cost of $2.4 billion.” A vision of what all of California could become.
     

    Michelle Alexander: Black Mass Incarceration IS the New Jim Crow

    If you cannot see the video above, click here.

    Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, speaks in NYC on how the phenomenon of black mass incarceration became social policy in the U.S. in the past thirty years.  About one hour.

    Love and Struggle: The On-Going Scandal of Political Imprisonment

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Dr. Jared Ball
    From President Obama on down, powerful forces maintain that the Black Freedom Movement is not only over, but ended in complete success. Yet decades later, scores of veterans of that movement still languish in prison. If we won, how come our bravest are still behind bars? “Despite all the hope to the contrary, there has been no successful completion of a freedom movement in this country.”

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    Ruling Provides New Hope for Felon Voting Rights

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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    In what is being hailed as a landmark ruling, a federal court found that the criminal justice system is “infected” with racial discrimination. As a result, said the judges, disenfranchisement of felons is a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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    Black Mass Incarceration: The Big Payback, a BAR Interview with Michelle Alexander. Part 1 of 2

     

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    Black Mass Incarceration: The Big Payback, a BAR Interview with Michelle Alexander. Part 2 of 2

    Part One of this interview appeared here, in the January 6 issue of BAR. On January 20, BAR will begin publishing excerpts from The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness [The New Press].

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    From Prison Inmates to Would-be Lawyers, Black Prospects Are Dimming

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
    Click the flash player below to listen to or the mic to download the MP3 of this commentary.
    The election of a Black president aside, white determination to hang on to skin privilege may be on the increase. California's governor proposes to cut prison costs through privatization, while refusing to release a single inmate. And despite steadily improving grades and test scores, law schools are enrolling fewer Black and brown students.

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    Black Politics Is Over: Black Politicians No Longer Believe Social Justice Is Possible

    The day before being sworn in, Atlanta's new mayor Kasim Reed pledged to the Chamber of Commerce he'd deal with downtown panhandlers in what he called a more "muscular" fashion. The hopes and predictions of white pundits that black political life would come to look like the rest of America have come true. But not because the inequalities in health, wealth, incarceration rates and other indices of disparity have narrowed. Black politics are looking a lot more like white politics because the black political elite no longer believes its mission is to fight for peace and justice. The newer, more cynical black elite are unmoored from their peace-and-justice-loving base. They are focused on their own careers, and the corporate largesse that makes those careers possible. Make no mistake about it, the black politics of a previous generation, in which black candidates and public officials were expected to stand for something beside their own careers, is over.

     

    Why Democrats and Republicans Won't Confront Black Mass Incarceration, and Why The Green Party Will

    Although the phenomenon of black mass incarceration is at the center of African American life, it continues to be obfuscated or ignored. The bipartisan consensus is that the social policy of black mass incarceration may exist only the minds of black people, and is certainly off the table as a political issue. To get this very real concern of Black America on the table then, may require stepping outside the bipartisan consensus. In Georgia, the state with the third highest black population and the largest percentage of its adults in the correctional labyrinth, the Green Party proposes to do what Democrats and Republicans won't --- make black mass incarceration a central political issue.

     

    The Black Prison Gulag in the Age of Austerity

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
    Click the flash player below to listen to or the mic to download an mp3 copy of this BA Radio commentary.
    The financial crisis is fast stripping California and other states of services and amenities. But, for many citizens, the pending release of a fraction of the prison population is too painful to bear. “Democrats and Republicans alike resist letting their prisoners go, as if the gods of California and the United States must be constantly fed more Black and brown bodies.”

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    Two Thirds of Prison "Lifers" Are Black and Latinos

    PRISON
    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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    American determination to arrest ever-increasing numbers of Blacks and to keep them locked up for as long as possible is creating a rapidly aging prison population. While African Americans and Latinos are one fourth of the nation's population, they are two thirds of all the prisoners serving life sentences. " More Americans are under life sentence than ever before – more than 140,000, compared to only 34,000 25 years ago.”

    The Two NAACPs and a Century of Struggle

    There have always been at least two NAACPs. There has been a national leadership, more sensitive to corporate interests and devoted to what can be won in the court or passed through the legislature this year. And there have always been the NAACP's scores of branches across the country, more and less active. It's the branches, some of them, which are the heirs of NAACP founders W.E.B. DuBois, Ida Wells-Barnett, of Medgar Evers and a long line of standup activists, the real people of struggle whose names most of us will never know.

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