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Forum Post: How Bill Clinton's Welfare "Reform" Created a System Rife With Racial Biases

Posted 3 years ago on May 13, 2014, 5:29 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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How Bill Clinton's Welfare "Reform" Created a System Rife With Racial Biases

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:14
By Joshua Holland, Moyers & Company | Interview


It’s become a political cliché that “red” and “blue” states represent two Americas. But consider how states prioritize programs like health care and education — or how they administer their social safety nets — and the differences are very real. Federal policies help smooth out some of those differences — everyone is eligible for the same Medicare and Social Security programs when they get older — but conservatives have long campaigned to broaden the divide by turning over more and more federally administered programs to the states.

We can see how that might play out by looking to the past. In 1996, Congress “reformed” our existing welfare system in much the same way Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to “reform” Medicaid and other anti-poverty programs: they killed off the federal entitlement and turned the money over to the states to implement new models of welfare as they saw fit. It was a central plank in Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” 20 years ago and also considered one of Bill Clinton’s signature achievements.

University of Minnesota sociologist Joe Soss spent a decade studying how those reforms shook out in the real world. With Richard C. Fording and Sanford F. Schram, he co-wrote the book, Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race, explaining how race became a determining factor in how states created their own welfare programs — and how that ultimately led to a system that’s rife with racial bias.

BillMoyers.com spoke with Soss last week. Below is a lightly edited transcript of our discussion.

Joshua Holland: Slightly fewer than one in three welfare beneficiaries are African-American. But it seems clear from the rhetoric around welfare that a lot of people think of it as a program for blacks. How did that view play into the welfare reforms of the 1990s?

Joe Soss: In the 1980s and ’90s, a kind of narrative had emerged that I call the story of illegitimate takings. It held that there were white people who played by the rules, and then there were people of color — and particularly black people — who were taking from those people in an illegitimate way.

At the time, there was a lot of talk of the pathologies of the underclass. And many believed that it was really these liberal programs that were to blame for what was seen as a kind of crisis of crime and disorder and sexual irresponsibility and welfare dependence and all of these things.

Bill Clinton ran on this idea that he was going to end welfare as we know it. And he was also going to get tougher on crime. He was attempting to reassure white voters, but once the Republicans took Congress, in 1994, Clinton found that he had painted himself into a corner, because of course the Republicans were willing to go much farther in this game than he was.

After that, for a public that had already learned to think of welfare as a black program — that had internalized these Republican calls to get tough on the welfare queens and whatnot — welfare now became center stage. The public was aroused, so something had to be done.

We looked at public opinion on welfare and racial attitudes, analyzing not just the overall trends, but studying the views of actual individuals over time. And what we found was fascinating. First, not many other factors predicted who would hold those kinds of views of welfare. It was pretty broad. But the one thing that did predict a negative view of welfare was negative beliefs about African-Americans, particularly a belief in black laziness. And also stereotypes of black women as being sexually irresponsible.

And what we found was that it wasn’t just that the people who had held these negative racial views all along who responded to these kinds of dog whistles but, even more striking, we found that as politicians talked more and more about welfare and what was wrong with the program, they moved people’s racial attitudes. The people who were most likely to start seeing welfare as a big problem were actually those who shifted from not having negative views of African-Americans to steadily responding to this discourse by beginning to see race in a different way and seeing African-Americans in a much worse light.

What’s remarkable about the general association of black people with welfare and handouts in the popular culture — that stereotype — is that it’s almost a perfect inversion of American history. For much of the 20th century, and certainly in the earlier history of this country, we had all sorts of race-specific programs that channeled benefits to whites and excluded everyone else.

So until very recently, in many ways we have this long history of a white-centered welfare state. But after that time, when victories were achieved that actually allowed for some equality of access to those programs, that very equality became the basis for saying, “Oh, this is all about African-Americans and it’s just a handout to this racially targeted group.” It’s a very sad part of American history, very troubling.



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[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Holland: One of the central provisions of welfare reform was replacing the federal welfare system established during the New Deal with a block grant program which gave the states the ability to design their own programs. You wrote that state officials implemented their policies in ways that “proved remarkably sensitive to racial differences.” Can you explain that finding?

Soss: After welfare reform passed, the federal government said [to the states], “Here are a bunch of goals we want to accomplish. We want, first and foremost, for you to put people to work, and we want to discourage childbirth, and we want to promote marriage… You’re now free to figure out how to do these things.”

What happened was pretty remarkable… What you see in this crucial period of recreating the system is that pretty much the only thing we could find that really drove one policy decision after another was the percentage of minority recipients on the welfare rolls at the time.

In other words, people had become so focused on racial issues that race really drove the patterning. They were not necessarily conscious of it; it was race-coded and below the radar for most people. But all of the states with more African-Americans on the welfare rolls chose tougher rules. And when you add those different rules up, what we found was that even though the Civil Rights Act prevents the government from creating different programs for black and white recipients, when states choose according to this pattern, it ends up that large numbers of African-Americans get concentrated in the states with the toughest rules, and large numbers of white recipients get concentrated in the states with the more lenient rules.

So state freedom to make these different choices became the mechanism for recreating a racially biased system across the states, where the toughness of the rules you confronted really depended on your racial characteristics.

Holland: According to your study, just five years after the passage of the Welfare Reform Act, 63 percent of families in the least stringent programs were white and 11 percent were black, and in the most restrictive programs — that is, the ones with the toughest penalties and the most stringent requirements for eligibility – 63 percent were black and just 29 percent were white.

Soss: Yes, and the stringency of the rules matter tremendously for outcomes. The tougher the rules — and the more frequently people are punished for breaking them — the worse the outcomes are for people after they finish the program.

In fact, in the toughest programs, people actually end up in worse shape after they get through them than they were before they got the benefits to begin with. And remember, they were in such a bad situation that they had to turn to a welfare program that’s been so stigmatized that pretty much everyone wants to avoid it.

We also found that people who go through the toughest programs learn lessons about government that lead them to retreat from participating in politics. They become less likely to make their voices heard, and less likely to participate in elections and community organizations.

Holland: About 40 percent of the African-American population live in the Deep South, where there are also very conservative state governments. Is it possible to untangle racial animus from ideology when it comes to designing these programs?

Soss: In one sense the question you’re asking is whether this is all just about how the South is different. And the answer is no. But ideology matters.

Here’s an interesting finding: In our study, we found that, not surprisingly, conservative counties and areas tended to sanction welfare clients much more often — they were much tougher on beneficiaries — than the most liberal counties. But what we found was that almost the entire difference was made up by the different treatment of black and Hispanic clients. For white clients, it actually made no difference whether you were in the most liberal or most conservative county. You’d be treated the same regardless. It was only clients of color who received different treatment in conservative and liberal counties.

Holland: One of the experiments you did was at the level of the program administrator. You used imaginary, “blind” cases to test for administrators’ attitudes towards their clients of different ethnicities.

Soss: We used identical, made-up case files. The only differences between them were that some had what are considered “black names,” and others had “white names.” So one would be like, Emily O’Brien and on another we put Lakisha Williams. We pretested them to show that most people who saw these names, right or wrongly, associated them with white or black people — or Latinos.

And we then presented actual welfare case managers with cases where it wasn’t quite clear whether the person should be sanctioned or not. Again, it was the exact same case, except we varied the name, and therefore, the race they associated with the person.

And then we also varied one other thing, which you can call a discrediting marker. So in one of the experiments, we looked at what happens if you add information that the imaginary beneficiary had been sanctioned before — maybe that would lead the case worker to think they’re a troublemaker. That should have no bearing on the current sanction decision, but it might just change their view. Or we changed the number of children they had — for half of the case managers, the person had one child; for the other half, they had four children and were pregnant.

And we found that, across all of our experiments, for the white client, adding that marker — which invoked a negative image of welfare recipients — had no effect at all. They were still judged the same way on the current matter.

The black client or the Hispanic client, when they did not have this discrediting marker, were also judged neutrally on the borderline problem we gave these managers. So there wasn’t an automatic bias. But when you added that discrediting marker, the likelihood that the person would get sanctioned went through the roof if they were a person of color. In other words, the person might not be discriminated against if there was nothing there that provided a kind of cue, but as soon as you added something that seemed to confirm the negative stereotypes about welfare recipients, it had no effect on the white client, but it made the black client seem like a person who should be sanctioned, and the rates went up.

And the thing that’s really fascinating is that this was equally true for all case managers, regardless of how they self-identified in terms of race and ethnicity. It was equally true of white case managers and case managers of color.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

"Devastating" Impacts of Climate Change Increasing

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:45
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis

"One does not sell the land people walk on." ~ Crazy Horse

A massive collapse of an ice sheet in Western Antarctica has begun and, according to scientists, is most likely an unstoppable event that will cause an inevitable rise in global sea levels of at least 10 feet.

The rise will be relatively slow at first, but by 2100 will ramp up sharply. This could happen sooner, warn the scientists, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD/climate change) continue to intensify.

"This is really happening," Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said. "There's nothing to stop it now."

On April 13, the world's leading scientific body for the assessment of ACD warned of a "devastating rise of 4-5C if we carry on as we are."

According to Mike Childs, the head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, an increase to 4C warming would mean a "devastating" impact on agriculture and human civilization. Childs added that we would face even more extreme weather events and lose approximately 20-30 percent of the wildlife on the planet. This assessment may even be overly hopeful, given that humans have never lived on a planet at 3.5C or higher.

A report released in April by a joint Australian/US research team states that escalating CO2 emissions now threaten the entire marine food chain, given that more than 90 percent of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans.

The extreme temperature duality witnessed across the US this past winter is likely to become the norm, thanks to ACD, and it was again revealed who the largest CO2 emitters are. China, the US and India lead as the world's largest polluters.

The rapidity with which ACD is progressing now is truly astounding. Greenhouse gas emissions grew in the first decade of the 21st century at a rate nearly double that of the previous 30 years combined - this, despite the massive economic downturn in 2008.

With full steam ahead for the industrial growth society that dominates the planet, this dispatch reveals another month of dramatic impacts and stunning reports that show, starkly, how humans are disfiguring all facets of the earth.


According to a recent study published in Nature, increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere could be lengthening the growing seasons of grasses and other plants. This might seem like good news, except that another study published in Nature about two weeks later revealed that increased CO2 emissions are making the world's staple food crops of wheat, rice, maize and soybeans less nutritious, which is worsening the already serious health problems already suffered by the billions of malnourished people on the planet.

ACD is also playing a role in causing a dramatic increase in wheat rust, a fungal disease known as "the polio of the food world," spreading from Africa to South and Central Asia, the Middle East and now Europe. This is causing calamitous losses for the world's second most important grain crop after rice, and scientists are very concerned about the dangers this poses to global food security.

This is in addition to the increasing frequency of agricultural shocks caused by extreme weather events that are resulting in a surge in food prices that is hitting consumers, as well as everyone in the food chain, from farmers to agricultural traders to food manufacturers.

In the US, beef prices have already hit an all-time high, since extreme weather like massive droughts has thinned the country's beef cattle herds to the lowest levels since 1951, when there was only half the number of people to feed.

The San Jose Tico Times in Costa Rica reported that ACD is causing the collapse of wildlife habitats, widespread animal extinction, water scarcity and the spreading of diseases across the already extremely vulnerable populations of Latin America. The region already has the highest biodiversity on the planet, but one-third of all coral-building species there are already threatened with extinction, and 40 percent of the mangrove species along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Central America are threatened with extinction.

Escalating temperatures across the US Southwest are causing changes for birds and reptiles - and while some are benefitting from said changes, others like jays and other birds could lose as much as 80 percent of their breeding range by 2100, are losing and becoming threatened with extinction.

In the Arctic region of the planet, permafrost stores vast amounts of organic material that is teeming with microbes. Scientists are now reporting that as the permafrost thaws, as it is now at ever-increasing rates, it is changing the composition of the vegetation in the Arctic by releasing these microbes and accelerating ACD. According to Jeff Chanton, an environmental scientist who was involved in the study, when the peat in the permafrost thaws, water floods the soil and the chemistry change in the soil increases greenhouse gas production.

Speaking of the Arctic, in Alaska the landscape is radically changing in the north as melting permafrost is causing forests to no longer grow straight, as trees are tilting and falling over.

Meanwhile, child psychiatrists, psychologists and educators are reporting escalating anxiety levels in youth, who are flooded with disconcerting talk and news about the destruction of our planet.


Water-related phenomena continue to be one of the more obvious ways to observe the impacts of ACD across the planet.


[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Did Reagan Kill Entrepreneurialism?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 14:59
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed


American entrepreneurialism is dying a slow and steady death.

A new report out from The Brookings Institute paints a pretty dreary picture of entrepreneurialism in America over the past 30 years.

As Brookings points out, the firm entry and exit rates (essentially the creation and death of businesses in America), a good measure of the vitality of entrepreneurship, decreased by nearly 50 percent between 1978 and 2011.

Similarly, the job reallocation rate, another measure of entrepreneurship, also declined between 1978 and 2011.

While the Brookings Institute report stops short at addressing why entrepreneurship has been on the decline, it's pretty clear who and what the culprits are.

First and foremost, Ronald Reagan is to blame.

Before Reagan came to Washington, small mom and pop shops were the backbone of our economy. You could walk down any main street or strip mall in this country, and it would be rare to find a big box retailer or a large chain store.

If you needed groceries, you went to the local grocer. If you needed a new hammer, you went to the local hardware store.

But then Reagan came along.

He stopped enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1982, and handed out massive and unfair tax breaks to large corporations and their executives and stockholders, all at the expense of the small businesses that had built the American economy.

As a result, mom and pop stores began to close, because they simply couldn't afford to compete with the big box stores that were growing out of control.

This is a trend that has been going on ever since Reagan stepped foot inside the White House.

To this day, local family-owned stores are being run out of business, because they can't compete with the Home Depots, Best Buys, and Walmarts of the world that are growing larger and larger.

But Reaganomics isn't the only thing that's crippled small businesses and entrepreneurship in America.

For the past 30+ years, healthcare costs have been through the roof.

Between 1980 and 2005, spending on healthcare as a percentage of GDP nearly doubled.

That means that Americans had to pay more out of their pockets for health insurance, and had less to spend on other things, like starting a small business.

A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the U.S. has one of the smallest small business sectors of the 22 industrialized nations it studied, and the study's authors pointed to high healthcare costs as one of the main reasons why.

Fortunately, Obamacare is addressing some of the healthcare cost concerns that have hampered entrepreneurship in America.

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office revealed that thanks to Obamacare, by 2017, the number of hours workers in America put in will decline by roughly the equivalent of 2.3 million people leaving the workplace - all thanks to Obamacare.

While conservatives jumped at the report, what the findings really mean is that Americans no longer have to work crappy jobs just so they can have health insurance.

Studies suggest that there are millions and millions of Americans who hate their jobs - but they're working because they have to just to get health insurance

But now, thanks to Obamacare, people in dead-end, low-paying, lousy jobs are going to be able to say, "I don't need this job anymore just because it has health insurance associated with it, and I am going to take a job where I can work fewer hours."

And they're also going to say, "Hm. I've always wanted to start my own business and now I can do it."

While declining healthcare costs are good for entrepreneurship in America, there's still another major factor that's keeping entrepreneurship down.

Right now, more than 40 million Americans hold student loan debt, with the average loan debt being around $23,000.

Over the past decade, the average debt for a 25-year-old has risen a staggering 91 percent, and most of that debt is from student loans.

And that's bad news for entrepreneurship, because according to the Y Combinator, one of America's top business accelerators, the average age of entrepreneurs is 26.

It's pretty hard to start a business at 26 when you're strapped with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.

From 33 years of failed Reaganomics, to mountains of student loan debt, to soaring healthcare costs, it's pretty clear why entrepreneurship has been on the decline for the past 30+ years.

It's time to reverse this trend, and for entrepreneurship to thrive again in America.

That starts with undoing 33 years of failed Reaganomics. Giant transnational corporations shouldn't be able to play monopoly, and they shouldn't be getting tax breaks at the expense of small business.

Similarly, it's time stop giving massive subsidies to large corporations, and instead encourage the Small Business Administration to give more money to true mom and pop kinds of businesses.

We should also listen to Sen. Bernie Sanders, and strip federal highway money from any state that tries to lure business away from another state.

Next, we need to bring back the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, so that corporations can no longer grow out-of-control and eat up Main Street USA.

We also need to continue working on making healthcare more affordable for Americans, so that healthcare costs aren't hindering small business growth and our economy.

Finally, we need to wipe out all outstanding student loan debt, and make a public college education free in America for every student who is eligible. Millions of Americans will can then realize their dreams of becoming a small business owner.

Entrepreneurship may be on the decline, but we have the power to reverse the trend.

It's time for mom and pop shops to return to Main Street USA.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Did the CIA's Fake Polio Vaccination Program in Pakistan Help Fuel a Global Health Emergency?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 12:03
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview


The World Health Organization has designated the spread of polio in Asia, Africa and the Middle East a global public health emergency requiring a coordinated "international response." Three countries pose the greatest risk of further spreading the paralyzing virus: Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. In an unusual step, the WHO recommended all residents of those countries, of all ages, to be vaccinated before traveling abroad. The organization also said another seven countries - Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia - should "encourage" all their would-be travelers to get vaccinated. Until recently, polio had been nearly eradicated thanks to a 25-year campaign that vaccinated billions of children. In Pakistan, the increase in polio is being linked to a secret CIA ploy used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With the help of a Pakistani doctor, the CIA set up a fake vaccination campaign in the city of Abbottabad in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently announced a ban on immunization efforts and launched a string of deadly attacks on medical workers. We are joined by two guests: Rafia Zakaria, a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, who has been covering the rise of polio in Pakistan since the bin Laden raid; and one of Pakistan’s leading polio experts, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The World Health Organization has announced the spread of polio is a global public health emergency. According to the WHO, outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are an "extraordinary event" requiring a coordinated "international response." The organization pinpointed three countries as posing the greatest risk of further spreading the paralyzing virus: Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. In an unusual step, the WHO recommended all residents of those countries, of all ages, be vaccinated before traveling abroad. It also said another seven countries should "encourage" all their would-be travelers to get vaccinated. Those are Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia. Bruce Aylward, the assistant director-general of the WHO, announced the emergency declaration.

DR. BRUCE AYLWARD: The director-general has declared the international spread of wild poliovirus today in 2014 a public health emergency of international concern. There’s been 74 cases of polio due to wild poliovirus so far this year. Fifty-nine of those cases have been reported from Pakistan. If the situation as of today and April 2014 went unchecked, it could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine-preventable diseases.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bruce Aylward, the assistant director-general of the World Health Organization.

Until recently, polio had been nearly eradicated, thanks to a 25-year campaign that vaccinated billions of children. In Pakistan, the increase in polio is being linked to a secret CIA ploy used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With the help of a Pakistani doctor, the CIA set up a fake vaccination campaign in the city of Abbottabad in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently announced a ban on immunization efforts and launched a string of deadly attacks on medical workers.

For more, we’re joined by two guests. By Democracy Now! video stream, we’re joined by Rafia Zakaria. She is a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, who has been covering the rise of the polio in Pakistan since the bin Laden raid. Last year, she wrote a piece for Warscapes called "The War, the Women, and the Vaccine."

And we’re also joined by phone by one of Pakistan’s leading polio experts, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta. He’s founding director of the Center for Excellence in Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, and a doctor at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Rafia, let’s begin with you. What do you think is responsible for this outbreak of polio in Pakistan?

RAFIA ZAKARIA: Amy, thanks for having me on.

I think, you know, in Pakistan right now what you see is kind of the perfect storm, where there’s a collusion of factors coming together to cause a tremendous health emergency for Pakistan’s women and children especially. You mentioned the CIA program that was used, you know, the fake vaccination program that was used to collect DNA. You know, in addition to that is the fact that the Taliban have been, since then, targeting the health workers that provide immunizations in Pakistan, polio immunizations in Pakistan. And the third factor is, of course, just, you know, the underfunded nature of the Lady Health Worker program that provides these vaccinations. So all of these three factors have essentially come together to create a situation where, in just three years—because just three years ago, Pakistan was about to eradicate the poliovirus. And you can see just across the border in India, where these political events did not happen, they did eradicate the poliovirus. But we see 59 new cases.

The cases are spreading, as I’m sure Dr. Bhutta will talk about. They’ve spread not—you know, they used to be just in the tribal areas, where the drone attacks are concentrated, and in Peshawar, which is the biggest city next to the tribal areas, to now all the way south in Karachi, which is a city of 20 million people, where the spread of viruses like polio can happen very, very fast.

And you have to remember that these health workers that are at the front line of this anti-vaccination—this vaccination campaign are paid $2.50 a day. So you have to see how the people who are at the very front lines of this battle, who are trying to get the virus under control, have very—not only do they have very little remuneration, they have no security. So they’re easy targets for the Taliban and other extremist groups.

But the core issue, the central issue, is the issue of public trust. You know, it is unimaginable that in the Western industrialized nations of the world, that a public health program would be allowed to be used as a front to—you know, to essentially forward a strategic interest in capturing one or another person. But this is what has happened in Pakistan. And so, you have a situation where, among the rural areas especially, and also in the inner cities of Karachi and in Peshawar, people don’t trust the vaccine. They don’t know what it does. You know, first there is a—you know, when there is a rumor that says that Pakistani children are being sterilized by this vaccine, and then you have the truth of the fact that the CIA did use the program, it’s very, very difficult to convince people, even educated people, that the vaccine that their children are going to get is one that hasn’t been tampered with.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, can you respond to the virus and the polio emergency that’s been announced by WHO and what’s happening in your country of Pakistan?

DR. ZULFIQAR BHUTTA: Well, thank you very much, and I’m grateful for the invitation to join you this morning.

Let me just add to what Rafia said. I mean, where I agree with her is this current perfect storm of a variety of issues and the lack of public trust in a broad polio immunization program. However, you know, I don’t think the blame for the failure of polio eradication in Pakistan can be placed entirely on the bin Laden episode, which, deplorable as it was, was a problematic issue that happened at a time when we needed to build public confidence, and not the opposite. What has happened in Pakistan is that you have virtually a civil war going on in some parts of the country, notably in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the Taliban-controlled areas, where nobody can enter. And yes, of course, health teams cannot enter. And as a result, it’s been impossible to vaccinate large bodies of children, and people moving out of that area have been able to carry viruses to all parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the neighboring province. And because there’s a large portion of people who travel down to Karachi and migrate there, there is also transmission of virus in those areas. So there is a very close link of polio program in Pakistan with the barriers of conflict and war. And as you can imagine, in the parts of the world where the virus has spread or re-emerged, these are also geographies where there has been conflict and a breakdown of primary care and health services: Somalia, Syria, I mean, the isolation of the virus in Iraq, parts of Afghanistan.

So, I think it is important to recognize that we are trying to eradicate a disease globally in the midst of very adverse situations, of which there are a range of factors, including conflict, takedown of public health services, disinformation, which is flamed by incidents such as the Shakil Afridi CIA ruse, and also the fact that the disorder is now unfortunately being politicized. I mean, the Taliban have deplorably not only resorted to attacking health workers, and thereby creating this climate of fear amongst the primary care health workers program and the population, but have also used polio as a vehicle for political negotiations. I mean, the North Waziristan Taliban leaders stated that they would only really allow polio campaigns or polio entry into their area if the drone attacks were stopped. So, it is a very unfortunate situation, which does place a huge responsibility on everybody concerned to take a very rational, balanced approach to what needs to be done, and not a knee-jerk response.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Bhutta, your response to the WHO recommending all residents of Pakistan should show proof of vaccination before they can leave the country?

DR. ZULFIQAR BHUTTA: Well, I mean, I can understand where WHO is coming from. I mean, they are desperately trying to contain the virus from spreading to other geographies. But I do have some reservations on the whole gaming of what might happen with such a draconian imposition of travel restrictions. Firstly, Pakistan is not a small country, so you’re not talking about just a few thousand people traveling. You’re talking about millions of people, the diaspora who live in the Middle East and who travel all over the world, people who travel between the West and East. So, it was always going to be a huge challenge in terms of implementing such a restriction.

Secondly, there is a real risk. And we are already beginning, as people on the ground will confirm, to see a response that is taking away from the core process of focusing on eradication of the disease in the geographies that I mentioned. The government has been forced to set up these vaccination centers in over 130 hospitals. It’s been forced to set up vaccination points at all ports of exit and airports. That will require human resources. That will require a vaccine transportation chain. That will actually require vaccines. Already, I’ve been told, that there is insufficient polio vaccine to vaccinate all travelers—oral polio vaccine—and the government is desperately trying to get the injectable vaccine for all travelers. Now, all of these things will, I’m afraid, take away from the core focus of the program on trying to vaccinate people in at-risk populations in the districts of Karachi, in the FATA areas, strengthening the community program, the Lady Health Workers program, as well as the vaccination program, integration with other services. Those are things that require resources, both human and money. And I’m afraid these travel restrictions may look cosmetically as appropriate, but I don’t think they will do much good in terms of the national polio eradication program.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Rafia Zakaria, you report for Dawn, the newspaper in Pakistan, but you’re in the United States. Your message to people in this country who might have no idea what happened with the Osama bin Laden raid, the special forces and how they found him?

RAFIA ZAKARIA: Well, you know, I think—I would like to speak for the Pakistani people, who are kind of caught in the middle of this conflict. You know, on one hand, you have the CIA, the U.S. government, looking at their strategic objectives of catching bin Laden; and on the other hand, you have the Taliban, whose agenda is basically to destroy Pakistan, to spread terror in any way they can. And the tragedy is, is that neither side seems to care at all about the Pakistani people who are caught in the middle. So now the U.S. has Osama bin Laden, and they have a victory that they can tout. But the fact is, is that in the three years after that raid, we’ve got a polio outbreak in Pakistan, and extremist groups have actually been able to increase their number of attacks. The casualties—Pakistan is now the number one—the number one country in the number of terrorist attacks anywhere in the world, more than Iraq and Afghanistan.

And so, I mean, the situation—the question becomes, you know, for Americans, is that: What has the war on terror really accomplished? Not only do you have these extremist groups able to expand their areas of operation, but now you’ve got a huge public health crisis in Pakistan. And I think Dr. Bhutta gave a really great insight on how Pakistan just does not have the resources to contain both of these problems. So I think that Americans have to move beyond this kind of idea that killing one figurehead and the number two leader and the number three leader is winning the war on terror. They have to look at this—at the cost of this that’s imposed on countries like Pakistan and especially on the innocent civilians. You know, the final consequence that I think your listeners should consider is that, because of this war, a functioning program, the Lady Health Worker program, that used very little money to provide basic healthcare to millions of—millions of Pakistani women and children, is now essentially being scrapped.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. I’m sorry we have to end it there. Rafia Zakaria, columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, covering the rise of polio in Pakistan since the bin Laden raid. Also want to thank Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, founding director of the Center for Excellence in Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan.

When we come back from break, an update on what’s happening with the almost 300 girls who were abducted by the Boko Haram in Nigeria. Stay with us.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Why Do Police Unions in New York Want to Repeal the End Discriminatory Profiling Act?

Thursday, 15 May 2014 00:00
By Aaron Cantu, Truthout | Report


New York City's End Racial Profiling Act, or Local Law 71, is being contested by the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Sergeant's Benevolent Association, which claim a law "with teeth" will injure their members.

On April 29, in a cramped courtroom on the third floor of 80 Centre St. in New York City, an all-white group of legal professionals met to determine whether a new municipal law banning racial profiling by the NYPD would stay on the books.

Justice Anil Singh heard arguments from attorneys representing the New York City Council on why he should dismiss both a lawsuit and a preliminary injunction filed by two police unions opposing the profiling provisions. The unions believe that if the law is used to take an NYPD officer to court for profiling, the officer could be saddled with a significant amount of court costs not covered by the department.

Here's the backstory: In June 2013, the City Council voted on four separate bills bundled together under the Community Safety Act, a piece of legislation addressing endemic racial profiling by the NYPD. Two of them passed, including the measure that became Local Law 71, and a bill establishing independent oversight of the NYPD passed. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to veto the two bills, but his vetoes were overridden in August, and the two surviving bills went into effect in November.

On that late April day, the bill in question was the End Racial Profiling Act, or Local Law 71, which "establishes a strong and enforceable ban on profiling and discrimination," and expands the definition of discrimination beyond race to include "age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status." Critically, the bill also provides a legal channel through which individuals, believing that profiling was a "determinative" factor in their apprehension, could "bring intentional discrimination claims and/or disparate impact claims" in a civil court.

Both the Bloomberg administration and the two police unions - the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association - filed legal challenges to the law shortly after its passage. New Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the city's lawsuit this past March, but the unions did not, and on April 29, their attorneys went to court to argue that Local Law 71 impinged on officers' ability to confront crime.

The lead attorney representing Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, James McGuire, opened by presenting his clients' rationale for suing the City Council: that the mere speculative possibility of an officer being sued was an injurious enough prospect for the law to be thrown out.

"Is it speculative that an officer will be sued? There is a high likelihood the answer is yes," McGuire said. He noted the unlikelihood that not one of 22,000 would ever be sued.

"So the injury is the threat of a lawsuit?" Justice Singh asked.

"Yes," McGuire said. "We had a prohibition [on racial profiling] before with no teeth. Now it has teeth . . . [And] as a result of the teeth they put in the statute, someone will get bit." McGuire then asserted that because it is so likely that officers will be sued by those profiled, those officers will challenge Local Law 71 in court, where (in his view) the court would strike down the law if it hadn't already been thrown out. Basically, he argued that the law would inevitably be struck down in the future if Justice Singh didn't do it now.

In response, the lead attorney representing the City Council, Andrew Celli, noted that not a single officer had been sued under the law by anybody since it took effect in November.

"Yes, but isn't that the purpose [of the law]?" Justice Singh pressed.

"Yes, but there's no guarantee of it," responded Celli. "This is an academic exercise because they can't point to a single example of someone getting hurt [as a result of Local Law 71]."

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

The trial then moved to arguments over the injunction against Local Law 71. McGuire argued that the city was overstepping its authority in trying to regulate law enforcement duties, because anything related to criminal matters was supposed to be regulated by the New York State Criminal Procedure Law. Celli argued that New York City had the right to control public entities in the absence of regulation from a higher law. McGuire then wondered if Local Law 71 opened the door for the City Council to pass whatever measures it wanted under the guise of "civil rights," a point that interested Justice Singh. Celli said in theory, yes, the City Council could pass civil and criminal legislation as part of a civil rights package, but insisted that Local Law 71 was "an extremely narrow statute."

Later, the two counsels verbally sparred over what would happen if a person was lawfully apprehended under criminal law, but then the arrestee later alleged discrimination had been used in their apprehension. McGuire argued that the law raises a conflict of interest in officers' determination of whom to apprehend, and may therefore interfere with enforcement duties. Celli responded that cops who followed the law would have nothing to fear.

Al O'Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, insists that the City Council is overstepping its authority with Local Law 71, and that it is a financial threat to officers.

"[The law] allows people to sue police officers and it puts our members at financial risk . . . [if the] court can turn around and find an officer guilty, and [the officer] has to pay court costs and other expenses, and that could be a heavy bill," O'Leary told Truthout over the phone.

Commenting on the oral arguments after the trial, Steve Kohut, an organizer with the Latin-led Justice Committee, said there would be no reason for officers to worry about the prospect of a lawsuit if the NYPD didn't actively profile people.

"If we say don't profile, and you continue to profile, of course you're going to get sued if you continue to violate our rights," he told Truthout over the phone.

He didn't buy the argument that there would be a barrage of lawsuits against the police for racial profiling, considering that no such suits have been brought to court since Local Law 71 took effect last November.

"We want the profiling to stop," he said. "It's not that we want people to go out and get targeted by [the NYPD] - we don't want people to be targeted in the first place."

Steve Kohut was part of an effort by Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), a loose collection of grassroots organizations in the city, to pack the courtroom with activists from across the city. CPR was also behind the push to end stop-and-frisk, as it became a centerpiece of the NYPD's approach to crime in the last decade. In 2012, police stopped about 685,724 people, over 700 percent more than were stopped in 2002. An estimated 53 percent of those stopped were black and 34 percent Latino.

Local law 71 is meant to impose penalties on law enforcement that engages in stop-and-frisk-style profiling, but it can also be invoked in other instances where discrimination appears to be the "determinative" factor in an apprehension, such as being pulled over in one's car. Aggrieved citizens can file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights or outright sue the agency employing the culpable officer, the precinct at which the officer is placed, or the officer his or herself. Relief for the citizen is limited to the "injunctive and declaratory" kind, meaning a court or third party would mandate that an officer, precinct or department cease engaging in discriminatory action. Relief would not include monetary compensation.

Because those who say they've been profiled cannot always afford their own attorney, it's likely that the majority of grievances would be filed through the Commission on Human Rights, which already handles allegations of discrimination in policing, housing and other public arenas. When a complaint of profiling is filed through the commission, it launches an investigation into the claim. After the investigation ends, the commission presents the precinct or department with what they found. If evidence of discriminatory profiling is found, then the offending entity is presented with remedies and ideas on how to correct the problem.

There are various ways an accusation of police profiling can be addressed. For example, the offending officer can be mandated by his precinct to undertake certain changes - perhaps he/she will be reassigned to a different area, or be made to attend a certain number of professional development seminars. Another possibility is if an officer(s)' discriminatory policing is found to be part of a broader policy within a precinct, the precinct can be pushed to "dismantle the policy and come up with another solution without resorting to discriminatory practices," said Candice Toliver of the New York Civil Liberties Union in a phone conversation with Truthout.

Part of what sets Local Law 71 apart from similar measures across the country is that it is meant to address unintentional as well as intentional discrimination: If a law enforcement policy is found to overwhelmingly, but inexplicitly, target a specific class of people, like stop and frisk, it can be legally dismembered under the law.

Unknown to many, the NYPD was already "banned" from racial profiling by an obscure municipal provision called Introductory Number 142-B.

"Intro. Number 142-B codifies the NYPD's existing Operations Order 11, which prohibits the use of racial profiling defined as 'the use of race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin as the determinative factor for initiating police action'" Mayor Bloomberg said in a written statement from July 12, 2004. "Codifying the order into law demonstrates our administration's unwavering commitment to routing out acts of racial profiling."

That year, police stopped and frisked New Yorkers 313,523 times. An estimated 87 percent of those stops were of black and Latino people, while whites represented 10 percent of stops. That ratio basically stayed the same as the number of stops doubled by 2012.

Under Local Law 71, the channel for grievances is fitted with a force of law that didn't exist under previous ordinances. That's what the PBA's attorney, James McGuire, meant when he said the new law has "teeth," whereas the former provision was "toothless."

Since the law went into effect last November, no lawsuits have officially been launched against the NYPD or any individual officers, and few complaints have been filed with the Commission on Human Rights. Activists from Communities United for Police Reform say this is probably because those most affected by the new measure are unaware of its existence, so the organization is undertaking a grassroots effort to inform citizens of their new rights and legal options when racially profiled by the NYPD.

Until more people are made aware of their rights under the law, and until Justice Singh reaches a verdict on the lawsuit and injunction, little will remain known about just how hard Local Law 71's bite can be.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Death to the Death Penalty

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:57
By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | Op-Ed


The recent torturous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma has propelled the death penalty into the national discourse. The secret three-drug cocktail that prison authorities administered to Lockett - the first to render him unconscious, the second to paralyze him, and the third to stop his heart and kill him - didn't work as planned. After writhing in pain for 43 minutes, he finally died of a heart attack. Madeline Cohen, a lawyer who witnessed the botched execution, said Lockett had been "tortured to death." Seasoned reporters, also witnesses, called it "horrific." President Obama found it "deeply disturbing" and promised a review of how the death penalty is administered.

But the issue is not simply the most "painless," fair and efficient method the 32 death penalty states should use to put someone to death. It is not just a problem of executing innocent people, or the dubious constitutionality of the death penalty, or racism in its application and imposition, or that the death penalty does not deter homicide, or the higher cost of keeping someone on death row, or that nearly all industrialized countries have abolished capital punishment. The premeditated killing of a human being by the state is just plain wrong, and the United States should abolish it.

A week after Lockett's execution, the Constitution Project released its report after one of the most comprehensive examinations of capital punishment in the United States. Calling the administration of the death penalty "deeply flawed," the report focused on procedural deficiencies. It recommended that death penalty states use one drug instead of three to kill their citizens. It called for fewer constraints on post-conviction review of exonerating evidence and videotaping of interrogations to identify false confessions, concluding that over 80 percent of 125 documented false confessions occurred in homicide cases; 20 percent of the defendants in those cases were sentenced to death. It recommended the abolition of the death penalty for "felony murder," in which a person participates in, but does not commit, the homicidal act. It expressed concern about inconsistent application of the ultimate penalty since the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that intellectually disabled individuals should not be executed. It criticized states such as Texas, Alabama and Pennsylvania for compensating capital defense lawyers so poorly that it is "nearly impossible" to receive a proper defense. And it urged death penalty states to determine whether there are racial disparities in the application of the death penalty. The bipartisan panel did not, however, recommend abolition of capital punishment.

Innocents on Death Row

A new study just released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that 1 in every 25, or 4.1 percent, of people on death row, are innocent. But the innocence rate is more than twice the rate of exoneration. That means an unknown number of innocent people have been put to death. "Every time we have an execution, there is a risk of executing an innocent. The risk may be small, but it's unacceptable," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution outlaws "cruel and unusual punishments." Although the Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty, some justices have concluded it violates the Eighth Amendment. In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the high court imposed a moratorium on the death penalty because it was arbitrarily imposed. Justice Potter Stewart wrote for the majority that executions were "so wantonly and so freakishly imposed" that they are "cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual." But Stewart was only opposed to capital punishment as a matter of policy. States revised their death penalty statutes to eliminate arbitrariness, and four years later the Court upheld Georgia's new and improved death penalty law in Gregg v. Georgia. Unlike Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, Stewart did not believe the death penalty was unconstitutional.

Marshall noted in his concurrence in Furman, "Perhaps the most important principle in analyzing 'cruel and unusual' punishment questions is [that] . . . the cruel and unusual language 'must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society' . . . Assuming knowledge of all the facts presently available regarding capital punishment, the average citizen would, in my opinion, find it shocking to his conscience and sense of justice. For this reason alone, capital punishment cannot stand."

Brennan also concurred in Furman. He wrote, "When examined by the principles applicable under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause, death stands condemned as fatally offensive to human dignity. The punishment of death is therefore 'cruel and unusual,' and the States may no longer inflict it as a punishment for crimes. Rather than kill an arbitrary handful of criminals each year, the States will confine them in prison."

Eighteen years after Furman, Justice Harry Blackmun came to the conclusion that the death penalty was unconstitutional. In 1994, his last year on the Court, Blackmun famously wrote, "From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death."

Most recently, in 2008, Justice John Paul Stevens decided the death penalty amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Stevens concluded, "[T]he imposition of the death penalty represents 'the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes. A penalty with such negligible returns to the State [is] patently excessive and cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment.'" [quoting Justice Byron White's Furman concurrence]. In his new book, Six Amendments, Stevens proposes the Eighth Amendment be changed to read, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted."

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Racism in Imposition

According to Death Penalty Focus, the race of the victim and the race of the defendant in capital cases are major determinants in who is sentenced to death in the United States. A 1990 report by the General Accounting Office found "in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks." The Innocence Project reports that of the 316 post-conviction DNA exonerations, 198 involved African-Americans.

Think Progress reports that African-American defendants convicted of killing whites are much more likely to receive a sentence of death than white defendants convicted of killing African-Americans. Since 1976, only 20 white people have been have been executed in the United States for killing a black person. But 269 black defendants were executed for killing a white person. Death sentences in Louisiana are 97 percent more likely in murder cases when the victim is white. Florida has never executed a white person for killing a black person.

Not a Deterrent

Capital punishment does not deter people from committing homicide. Dartmouth University statistician John Lamperti notes "an overwhelming majority among America's leading criminologists [have concluded that] capital punishment does not contribute to lower rates of homicide." In fact, murder rates in non-death penalty states are lower than murder rates in states with the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Life Without Parole Saves Money

The alternative to the death penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Judge Arthur Alarcon and professor Paula Mitchell concluded that the cost of the death penalty in California has totaled over $4 billion since 1978. They calculated that a gubernatorial commutation of those sentences would result in an immediate savings of $170 million per year, a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years. The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice found in 2008: "The additional cost of confining an inmate to death row, as compared to the maximum security prisons where those sentenced to life without possibility of parole ordinarily serve their sentences, is $90,000 per year per inmate."

International Consensus

International treaties and customary norms forbid capital punishment. They include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its Second Optional Protocol, and Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Last year, only 22 countries not involved in military conflict carried out executions. The United Nations Human Rights Committee found the United States to be in noncompliance with its obligations under the ICCPR due to the excessive number of offenses subject to the death penalty and the number of death sentences imposed. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that the countries that carried out the most executions in 2013 were China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the United States. Does the United States really want this to be its peer group?

End Institutionalized Murder

Five US states have abolished capital punishment in the last seven years. Support for the death penalty in the United States is waning. In October 2013, 60 percent of Americans favored capital punishment, down 20 percent from 1994.

The American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Nurses Association prohibit members from assisting in executions; they consider it a violation of their medical code of ethics.

Years after witnessing the excesses of the French Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette told the French Chamber of Deputies in 1830, "I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me." Indeed, as Eugene Robinson wrote in the Washington Post, "We fool ourselves if we think there is a 'humane' way to kill someone . . . The death penalty has no place in a civilized society . . . [T]here is no way to impose capital punishment without betraying the moral standards that our justice system is theoretically designed to uphold. Put simply, when we murder we become murderers." Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg wrote in 1976, "The deliberate institutionalized taking of human life by the state is the greatest conceivable degradation to the dignity of the human personality."

It is high time for all of the states in this country and the federal government itself to outlaw capital punishment. There is no good reason to retain it, and compelling reasons to abolish it.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

The Cops Killed Her Son; That Did Not Stop Her

Thursday, 15 May 2014 10:21
By Dennis Trainor Jr, Popular Resistance | Video Report



In this clip form Acronym TV’s full show on the call for a month of resistance To Mass Incarceration, Juanita Young talks about the death of her son, Malcolm Ferguson, a 23-year old man murdered by NYPD officer Louis Rivera. In June of 2007, a jury awarded Ms. Young $10.5 million. At the time of the verdict, Young told the New York Daily News: “the award was vindication that her son, Malcolm Ferguson, 23, was wrongfully shot during a struggle in March 2000 in an apartment building at 1045 Boynton Ave. – three blocks from where Amadou Diallo was gunned down a year earlier.”

According to reporting at Revcom.us:

“The Bronx jury of six issued a resounding “yes!” to the charges that plainclothes police officer Louis Rivera had used excessive force while stopping Malcolm, that his conduct had been a substantial factor in causing Malcolm’s death, that he had handled his weapon in a negligent manner, and that this mishandling was a substantial factor in causing Malcolm’s death. The six jurors also issued a resounding “no!” to the cop’s claim that Malcolm had engaged in conduct that might have contributed to his death.

The award ($7 million for punitive damages; $3 million for the pain and suffering inflicted on Malcolm) is one of the highest dollar amounts ever awarded in NYC against the police. The verdict comes with people’s memories still fresh of the death of Sean Bell – murdered by the police in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day last November, and the NYPD killing last month of Fermin Arzu. And it reflects the unremitting determination of Juanita Young over seven years to struggle to expose what happened to her son, as well as the support of people who are stepping forward to resist police brutality.”

Ms. Young appeared on Acronym TV with Dennis Trainor, Jr alongside Carl Dix, the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, to discuss plans for a month of nationwide resistance to Mass Incarceration.

The organizers call to action for October of 2014 (which is endorsed by Acronym TV) reads, in part:

“Mass incarceration has grown beside the criminalization of whole peoples; a situation in which every African-American or Latina/o is a permanent suspect—treated as guilty until proven innocent by police and racist vigilantes, if they can survive to prove their innocence. This is especially concentrated among the youth, starting with cops in schools, arresting children for things that used to mean a visit to the principal’s office at worse, putting youth on a trajectory from school to prison. Black and Latina/o youth have a target on their backs in this society. Literally tens of millions of lives have been scarred and worse—both the direct victims and their families and communities. People who heroically resisted these and other injustices have been imprisoned, some of them for decades. These political prisoners must be freed.

The malignancy of mass incarceration did not arise from a sudden epidemic of crime. Nor did it result from people making poor personal choices. Instead it arose from cold political calculations made in response to the massive and heroic struggle for the rights of Black and other minority peoples that took place in the 1960’s and 70’s, and in response to the enormous economic and social changes brought about by globalized production. This cancer of mass incarceration has been, from the beginning, nothing but a new Jim Crow in place of the old one. Like the old Jim Crow, it drew on, fed off and reinforced the deep-seated roots of the racism that grew up with slavery. Like the old Jim Crow, it has been, from the beginning, unjustifiable, utterly immoral and thoroughly illegitimate.”

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 0 points by DebtNEUTRALITYpetition (647) 3 years ago

The very first comment you quoted is misleading...

Joshua Holland: Slightly fewer than one in three welfare beneficiaries are African-American." end quote...

African Americans don't make up 1/3 of the population, do they? So the question is disingenuous from the start.