Tag Archives: prison

While Black Boys Are Fast-Tracked to Prison, the Pipeline to the Classroom Remains Blocked for Black Male Teachers

A Black male teacher in the New York City public school system joined a recent Q&A with Black male studies scholar Dr. Tommy Curry. The NYC educator described seeing “Black teachers, especially Black male teachers, mistreated and often pushed by suspected racists to act out in anger or to a point in which we are overwhelmed and resign.”

Seeking counsel from Curry, the NYC educator gave a dire summation: “After years of teaching and seeing Black male teachers mistreated and forced to resign or be fired, I often wonder if I should choose another profession or when [not “if”] the time will come when I [become] the primary target.”

Curry sympathized with and encouraged the fellow Black educator but offered no gimmick remedies or hopeful rhetoric. Brandishing a Ph.D. Curry holds full tenure at the University of Texas A&M but says his accomplishments have “afforded me no respect from my white colleagues.” His new book, “The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood,” corroborates and dissects the New York teacher’s observations.

“There’s a reason that there’s a shortage of Black male teachers, and it’s not because we’re not capable,” Curry said. “It’s because the kind of racism and the kind of dehumanization we experience … is so overwhelming, it almost paralyzes our will.”

During the 2014-2015 school year, nonwhite children outnumbered white children for the first time in public school history. But with an unprecedented demand for teachers that reflect the students they’ll be charged to educate, the pipeline to the classroom is blocked for Black male teachers.

According to a 2016 Department of Education report, Black males represent 2 percent of the United States’ teaching workforce. Radio personality Evan Dawson helped make it plain: “You’d have to stop by more than 50 classrooms in this country before you found one Black male teacher.”

Dr. Travis Bristol, aformer New York City high school teacher and current research and policy fellow at Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, told Boston, Mass.’s WBUR Radio that, “The experiences of Black males teachers really represent a microcosm of what’s happening to Black teachers in urban United States.” He cited Chicago, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., as cities where Black educators have vanished over the past 15 years. Bristol, who is Black, emphasized that the loss of Black male teachers is especially damaging because of their already-paltry numbers.

In the essay “Black male teachers: There aren’t enough of them,” Bristol details the routine violation and despair faced by Black male teachers like Dante Smith. A former high school teacher, Smith observed Black students treated like murderous convicts skilled at concealing contraband. He said an administrator doubted that he’d collected all the students’ cell phones even after Smith showed him the confiscated mobiles. “Believing that he had not collected enough phones, the administrator interrupted the exam to stop and frisk the students for cellphones,” Bristol writes. Smith resigned the next year.

Mirroring the shabby treatment reported by Curry and Smith, Bristol’s 2015 research examines how countless Black teachers experience tremendous “frustration sitting in on department meetings and having [their] comments about how to address the social, emotional and academic challenges facing students of color discounted by white colleagues on the faculty.” Being predictably ignored, many Black male teachers conclude their fellow white teachers do “not see them as intellectual peers.”

This also helps explain why Dante Smith and many other Black educators seek a new line of employment.

Malignant neglect from white colleagues is a widespread impairment for Black people in every field of employment. But for Black teachers, a unique job stress is being forced to view the devastation of Black children as an impotent witness. Speaking anonymously, the NYC teacher who questioned Curry explained the most excruciating aspect of his profession: “Watching the attack of Black boys and Black girls from white teachers and administration and being powerless to do anything about it, other than attempting to heal wounds that I couldn’t prevent.”

Having a front-of-the-class view of the criminalization and miseducation of Black boys and girls erodes many Black educators’ love for and reason for teaching.

Bristol made similar observations while studying a collection of Black male teachers in Boston during the 2013-2014 school year. A Northern city infamous for violent white opposition to the busing of Black students in the 1970s, Boston is subject to a 1985 court order to have 25 percent of public school teachers be Black. Bristol noted a glaring pattern where Boston’s Black male teachers “were concentrated in the most challenging schools.” Seeing classrooms brimming with Black children attending schools designed to under nourish and fast-track Black boys to prison sabotages the most talented of instructors.

While he was visiting WBUR, Bristol had a statement pledging Boston Public Schools’ commitment to Black and nonwhite pupils read to him. “If you look at overall student achievement, the group that is most at risk tends to be Black males. This is the demographic that tends to have the lowest academic growth and lowest overall graduation rate. We can do more to support these students and their families,” BPS officials wrote.

Bristol dismissed their remarks as worthless gab, noting that, in Boston, “Over the past four years, the percentage of Black male teachers continues to fall.” Authentic concern for Black students should be reflected in vigorous commitment to hiring, retaining and valuing Black educators. As opposed to feeling welcome, Bristol explained that Boston’s “Black male teachers, specifically, are more likely to have negative evaluations.” Being placed in the most demanding teaching environments and simultaneously subjected to the harshest scrutiny guarantees that Black male teachers will continue to have one the highest turnover rates of any educators.

Stephan Blanford is the school board director in Seattle, Wash., and the lone Black on a 7-member school board. He told KUOW radio being director of the school board has been the experience of his life. However, “As an African-American man, it’s been hugely frustrating.” While using his position to promote academic excellence for all Seattle students, with particular concern for nonwhite children and racial disparities in education, Blanford confessed “racial microaggressions” and “unrealistic expectations of what I could do” are just two of the variables that have made it “pretty hard to be a Black man.”

Like prison, the classrooms are designed to be “hard” time for Black students and Black educators.

Gus T. Renegade/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Cruel and unusual’: NY governor signs measure to stop sending teens to adult prison

Under a new law in New York, juveniles under 18 will no longer be funneled through adult jails, where studies show they face a higher risk of suicide and sexual assault. However, opponents warn the measure serves as a recruiting tool for gangs.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed legislation to “raise the age” of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 as a part of the state’s $163 billion budget.

Previously, The Empire State was one of only two states that automatically prosecuted 16 and 17-year-old offenders as adults, regardless of their offense. The new measures will first raise the age of juvenile delinquency to 17 by October 2018. Then the age of criminal responsibility will be raised to 18 by October 2019.

In a press release, Cuomo cited evidence that recidivism among young people who are processed as adults is 34 percent higher than young people housed in the youth justice system.

Cuomo took recommendations from the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, which found young people are more than five times as likely to become the victims of sexual assault and eight times more to commit suicide while in adult prisons, compared to teens housed in juvenile prisons.

“Putting aside the fact that psychologists will testify that 16- and 17-year-olds often are not mentally mature, the reality of putting a 16 or 17-year-old in the same facility as hardened adult criminals is, on its face, cruel and unusual,” Cuomo said, according to the Guardian.

Young minorities have also been disproportionately incarcerated under the current laws, with African-Americans and Hispanics accounting for 82 percent of juveniles in adult facilities throughout the state and 95 percent in New York City.

Cuomo estimates that raising the age will prevent between 1,500 and 2,400 crimes every five years.

Under the new law, cases involving juveniles under 18 with violent felony charges would be handled by a newly established Youth Part of the criminal court. Those teens would be subjected to a three-part test to determine if their case is serious enough to be transferred to Family Court.

Teens who are not transferred could still be tried as an adult, although judges can consider the defendant’s age when imposing incarceration.

Lawmakers and prosecutors who oppose the measure said that it would make young gang members more difficult to prosecute.

“What you call ‘raise the age’, I call the gang recruitment act,” Assemblyman Al Graf (R-Long Island) said during debates according to the Times Union.

“This is a great tool to be able to recruit younger members of our community to enter gangs,” Graf continued.

The bill also ensures that teens under the age of 18 will be housed in specialized juvenile detention facilities that are certified by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and the State’s Office of Children and Family Services, as well as the creation of task force to ensure the measure is implemented correctly.

“We have won a tremendous victory for communities across the state that have endured senseless tragedies and called on the Legislature to deliver a justice system that recognizes the difference between a child and an adult,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, according to a press release.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter in New York State where young people are given a chance to grow up and recover from their past wrongdoing without forfeiting their futures,” Heastie continued.

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Changes coming to LA criminal justice system to reduce high incarceration rate

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, Louisiana lawmakers are taking steps to change that.

Image result for louisiana and incarceration rate and highest
Image: NOLA.com

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, Louisiana lawmakers are taking steps to change that.

The Justice Reinvestment Task Force approved five measures, amending criminal justice laws.

Rep. Terry Landry, who sits on the committee said, “What we’ve been doing for the past 20, 30 years have not worked. So, if you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results, they tell you you have to change course.”

The reform is something many have look forward to for decades.

New Orleans resident Fox Rich said, “They sentenced my husband to 60 years as a first-time felony offender in LA in a crime that no injury was sustained by any of our victims. So, this is an opportunity that we’ve waited a very long time for and we’ve worked a very long time for to make sure we have prepared ourselves for his return into society.”

More from katc.com

Posted by Libergirl

House Pushes Ahead With $611 Billion Defense Policy Bill

Image: CBS Dallas

The Republican-led House is pushing ahead with a $611 billion defense policy bill that prohibits closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and forbids the Pentagon from trimming the number of military bases.

The annual policy bill also awards U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years.

More from CBS Dallas/Fort Worth

Posted by Libergirl

FCC decides to slash prison phone rates — and maybe recidivism

Federal regulators will vote on capping the cost of phone calls from prison, which are far more expensive than ordinary calls.
Image: Istockphoto via NPR

It costs a lot of money to talk on the phone to someone in jail — so much that those phone bills have drawn the attention of federal regulators. Now the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday to limit the price of prison phone calls.

“We’re cutting off necessities, just so we can keep this communication going,” says Miguel Saucedo, a Ph.D. student and community activist in Chicago. His brother Luis is in prison in Illinois, where he has been incarcerated since 1996.

For roughly 20 years, Miguel Saucedo and his family have been setting aside money to talk to Luis on the phone — money that could have gone to those necessities. Saucedo doesn’t know exactly how much his family has paid over the years. But he estimates “it would have to be” over $10,000 or $20,000.

For most of us, those phone calls would cost just a few cents per minute. But for inmates and their families, phone rates and fees can be many times higher. It’s common for them to pay $13 for a 15-minute call.

“I see the clearest, most egregious case of market failure ever,” says FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who has been working on this issue for several years. “This is a major cost that families pay. And these families are the most economically vulnerable in our nation.”

More from NPR

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“I executed 62 people. I’m sorry”: An executioner turned death-penalty opponent tells all

They say you can’t put a price on life, but what about death? Earlier this year I spoke to Jerry Givens, a former state executioner turned death penalty abolitionist. He told me that for people who carry out the death penalty, the real, enduring cost is emotional.

“If I had known what I’d have to go through as an executioner, I wouldn’t have done it. It took a lot out of me to do it. You can’t tell me I can take the life of people and go home and be normal.”

Givens executed 62 people during his 17 years working for Virginia’s Department of Corrections, and like many executioners, he felt the consequences long after the act itself. It was clear from speaking with Givens that he couldn’t shake the lasting weight of his actions, and he’s certainly not alone: a startling 31 percent of prison staff who perform executions will suffer from post-traumatic stress. Flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD are habitually seen among correctional officers and executioners, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

It isn’t just the prison staff who suffer. California Gov. Edmund Brown had the unenviable task of deciding whether to commute death sentences to life without parole — absolute judgments over life and death that continued to haunt him through his later years:

“The longer I live, the larger loom those decisions I had to make as governor. Looking back over their names and files now, I realize that each decision took something out of me that nothing – not family or work or hope for the future – has ever been able to replace.”

More from Salon.com

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Proposes Bill To Restore Voting Rights To Ex-Felons

NY  Rep. Hakeem Jeffries discusses his proposed bill that will restore the right to vote to ex-felons who have served their time.

Chart of State Felon Voting Laws
Image: felonvoting.procon.org/

The premise of Rep. Jeffries’ bill is that “as the nation moves towards criminal justice reform, reducing mandatory minimums and improving opportunities for people to reenter society, we have to look at the holistic individual in terms of their participation and their reentry.”

Jeffries continued, “Part of that is regaining their franchise as it relates to someone’s ability to vote, to participate, to have their voices heard.”

When asked how felony disenfranchisement started, Rep. Jeffries said the effort to disenfranchise felons “is largely concentrated in many of the deep South states.”

“I would argue that it’s a legacy from slavery and Jim Crow and a consistent effort to disenfranchise individuals. You see it in other context in terms of trying to prevent people on the front-end from being able to vote, along with these harsh voter ID laws and efforts that are underway in many of the Southern states and other parts of the country,” said Jeffries.

More from News One

Posted by Libergirl