Trayvon Martin, Department Of Justice data, Criminality, Political Racism, Class Warfare, and the War on Drugs
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, March 25, 2012
Having been working on the idea for this entry for several weeks now, it seems that with the tragic death of young Trayvon Martin in Florida, it now seems the right time to publish it.
It’s a crying shame that nearly 150 years after our nation’s Civil War, that we are still talking about race relations.
Why do these problems exist?
The figures for population and arrest have not changed significantly since 2005.
The data would seem to suggest that Blacks are significantly more criminally inclined than Whites.
But, that’s not so.
Blacks are NOT more criminally inclined than Whites.
Ethnicity is neither a predictor nor determiner of criminal intent nor propensity toward crime. More pointedly, one’s skin color has nothing to do with crime.
In fact, it would seem that Whites, because they are nearly 3/4 of the population, would similarly be at least, or close to 3/4 of those arrested. Instead, there is a significantly inverse relationship. That is, being Black seems to be a significant predictor of arrest. Yet, Natural Outcomes would suggest that the greater general population of Whites would comprise the greater population of those arrested. That is, we would presume arrests to be proportionally representative of the population – in other words, more Whites than Blacks should be in prison simply because there are more Whites.
Let’s examine additional facts, bearing in mind that facts don’t tell the whole story.
• There are more African-Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
• As of 2004, more African-American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
• A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African-American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.
• If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African-American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80 percent.) These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.
Yet in the past 30 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the incarceration rate of African-Americans. And, while crime rates fluctuate, and are now at historical lows, the rate at which Blacks have been imprisoned has skyrocketed – doubling over five times in the same period. Drug-related offenses are to blame for much of that increase – 66% of the increase in the federal prison population and 50% in the states’ prison population are prisoners of the War on Drugs.
Historially, late former Republican president Richard Nixon, initiated what he termed the “Southern Strategy” – a method of winning elections in traditionally Democratic voting Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism among White voters, and their fear of increasing federal influence and power in economic & social matters typically termed as States’ Rights issues. H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon’s White House chief of staff said, “[T]he whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” Late Republican former president Ronald Reagan continued that strategy by reinventing it, and cloaking under the guise of a “War on Drugs.”
The Republican Party’s highly successful Southern Strategy used racially coded political appeals on issues of crime – even though national crime rates were on a downward trend – and used “welfare mothers” – typically, poverty-stricken and uneducated Black Women whom received public assistance to raise their families – to attract the attention of poor and working class White voters who resented and felt threatened by desegregation, busing, and affirmative action.
Publicists within the Reagan administration seized upon the advent of crack cocaine, and curried national media attention by by sensationalizing so-called “news” of inner-city crack babies, crack mothers, crack whores and drug-related violence.
Typically, Whites used powder cocaine, which was expensive, while Blacks free-based or made “crack,” which was a quick and inexpensive way to eliminate almost all impurities in a sample of cocaine. Because cocaine is a white powder, it is easily “stepped on” – diluted in strength – by the addition of baking soda, laundry powder, milk sugar or any other white powdery adulterant. By making “crack,” all impurities were eliminated, quality was assured, the intensity of the high was increased, and the resulting “rock” was easily concealed. Prices for crack cocaine were also significantly lower. In a highly publicized interview with Dianne Sawyer in December 2002, late singer Whitney Houston was asked about allegations she used crack. Miss Houston said, “Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. Okay? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is whack.”
Led by then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), a majority Republican Congress enacted strident federal laws against crack cocaine which were exceedingly more harsh than for possession of powder cocaine. And not to be outdone, or perceived as “soft on crime,” President Clinton continued Congress’ penchant for increasing penalties against those whom used drugs – an oblique swipe at Blacks. Saying he was “tough on crime,” he and many so-called “New Democrats” fostered legislation that made anyone convicted of any drug-related offense – no matter how minor – ineligible for any federally funded program, including student financial aid, food or housing assistance… a permanent lifetime ban with no recourse. Under President Clinton, federal and state prison populations exploded – more so than under any president in history.
While some Congressional efforts have been made to eradicate coca growers in the remote and highly elevated mountains of Columbia and other South American nations, and the seemingly innumerable vast poppy & marijuana fields in Afghanistan, little has been done to eliminate the demand for illicit drugs in America.
Most of the funding for all criminally-related programs is aimed at agencies that increase drug arrests, rather than those that agencies that eradicate kingpins and bosses. Further complicating matters are “federal drug forfeiture laws allow state and local law enforcement agencies to keep for their own use 80 percent of the cash, cars and homes seized from drug suspects.” In other words, law enforcement agencies have a direct and vested monetary interest in the profitability of any illicit drug market.
America’s prison population has exploded in conjunction with the promulgation of private, for-profit prisons – penal institutions which corporate owners are publicly traded Wall Street firms yet continue to receive taxpayer dollars. More than 4/5 of America’s overcrowded prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders, most of whom have been convicted of simple possession. Only 20% of those incarcerated for drug-related offenses have been convicted of sales. And during the 1990’s, almost 80% of all drug-related arrests were for marijuana possession.