prison state

Why Bill Clinton's Apology and Barack Obama's Prison Drive-By, Token Clemencies Are Cynical Election Year Posturing

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Six and a half years into his presidency, Barack Obama has discovered black mass incarceration. He's shocked, visits a federal prison and frees a token handful of prisoners. Fifteen years out of office, Bill Clinton half-apologies for his 1990s crime bills which nearly doubled the US prison population. What's got into these guys? It's election season. Hillary is running for the White House and she needs the black vote.


Black Agenda Radio, Week of May 20, 2015

States and Cities Turn Criminal Justice Screws on the Poor

“Since the recession, states and municipalities are trying to regroup their deficits in the easiest way possible, and poor people are an easy target,” said Karen Dolan, lead author of the Institute for Policy Studies report, “The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty.” The proliferation of fees and fines for minor infractions is occurring “in high poverty, low income areas all across the country,” said Dolan. A recent Justice Department study showed that the Ferguson, Missouri, police department and municipal courts “were in the service of collecting money to shore up shrunken budgets.”

Running Left in America

Bernie Saunders, the nominally socialist Vermont senator, is acting as “a left sheep dog, who herds people back into the fold” of the Democratic Party, said Bruce Dixon, co-chair of the Georgia Green Party and managing editor of Black Agenda Report. Dixon was part of a conference on the Future of Left and Independent Politics, in Chicago. “We’ve seen the Bernie Sanders show before, we know how it ends,” said Dixon. “He will fold his tent and endorse Hillary, and whatever you do for Bernie will either benefit Hillary directly, or vanish in a puff of air.”

Angela Walker, who ran for sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, as a socialist and got 67,000 votes against a pistol-packing incumbent, also addressed the conference. She ran “the grassiest of grassroots campaigns” in which “race, gender and class issues were centered.”

Courageous Young Teacher Awaits Board Decision

On May 12th, the Orange, New Jersey, school board will decide whether or not to fire Marilyn Zuniga, a young teacher they suspended for helping her 3rd grade students write get-well cards to political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, who is seriously ill. Zuniga believes the board is “under pressure by the state.” Her own teachers union has also been less than supportive, perhaps due to their fraternal ties to police unions. “I really do believe that we need more teachers who are socially conscious, who are willing to take risks in the classroom,” said Zuniga.

Cuba Will Never Turn Its Back on Assata

“You can be assured that Assata Shakur will never be abandoned by us,” said Ricardo Alarcon, the former foreign minister and president of the Cuban national assembly, speaking in Havana to a U.S. visitors group organized by Code Pink. Alarcon said the former Black Panther’s political asylum status will not be a pawn in negotiations to normalize relations with the U.S. The U.S. and the state of New Jersey put bounties on Shakur’s head. “You have a lot of people in New Jersey who deserve to be in jail, beginning with [U.S. Senator] Bob Menendez,” said Alarcon. “It’s a state that has plenty of criminals, even in the highest offices.”

Kenia Serrano, a member of the Cuban Congress and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, countered U.S. critics of Cuba’s racial policies. “The U.S. government has no moral authority to criticize any other country in the world, because the capitalist society, the imperialist society, is based on racism, discrimination and the lack of equality.”

U.S. Co-Opts Congolese Youth

The U.S. Agency for International Development is funding certain youth groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo to manipulate that country’s politics, said Kambale Musavuli, of the Washington-based Friends of Congo. “There are real, vibrant youth groups on the African continent,” he said. “But, little by little, they are being co-opted” by a U.S. “pro-democracy” campaign. “They are supporting some youth leaders, because they want to make sure that, no matter what happens, the U.S. will continue to control the Congo” and its vast resources.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: One hour.admin


We Charge Genocide: 1.5 Million Black Men “Missing”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Where did all the Black men go? Analysis of population data shows so many Black males have gone to prison, died of disease of accidents, or by violence, that Black females in many communities outnumber Black men by ratios of 6 to 10. A national policy of mass Black incarceration is the primary factor – a factual basis for a charge of genocide.


Boycott, Divest and Sanction Corporations That Feed on Prisons

by Chris Hedges

A coalition of organizations led by the Interfaith Prison Coalition has concluded that the only way to roll back the monstrous U.S. prison gulag is to boycott the corporations that profit from mass incarceration. “Since profit is the only language the involved corporations know how to speak, we will have to speak to them in the language they understand.”


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