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 "Drug abuse cuts across class and race," says Mauer, author of Race to Incarcerate.

 "But drug law enforcement is focused on low-income neighborhoods."

 

 

Locked Up in Land of the Free

By Scott Shane

Inmates: The United States has surpassed Russia as the nation with the highest percentage of citizens behind bars. Sun Journal

 

With a record-setting 2 million people locked up in American jails and prisons, the United States has overtaken Russia and has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country.

Those are the latest dreary milestones resulting from a two-decade imprisonment boom that experts say has probably helped reduce crime but has also created ballooning costs and stark racial inequities.

Overseas, U.S. imprisonment policy is widely seen as a blot on a society that prides itself on valuing liberty and just went to war to overturn Saddam Hussein's despotic rule in Iraq. . . .

The latest statistics:

The new high of 2,019,234, announced by the Justice Department in April, underscores the extraordinary scale of imprisonment in the United States compared with that in most of the world.

During the 1990s, the United States and Russia vied for the dubious position of the highest incarceration rate on the planet.

But in the past few years, Russian authorities have carried out large-scale amnesties to ease crowding in disease-infested prisons, and the United States has emerged unchallenged into first place, at 702 prisoners per 100,000 population. Russia has 665 prisoners per 100,000.

Today the United States imprisons at a far greater rate not only than other developed Western nations do, but also than impoverished and authoritarian countries do.

On a per capita basis, according to the best available figures, the United States has three times more prisoners than Iran, four times more than Poland, five times more than Tanzania and seven times more than Germany. Maryland has more citizens in prison and jail (an estimated 35,200) than all of Canada (31,600), though Canada's population is six times greater. . . .

Bruce Western, a sociologist at Princeton University, says sentencing policies have had a glaringly disproportionate impact on black men. The Justice Department reports that one in eight black men in their 20s and early 30s were behind bars last year, compared with one in 63 white men. A black man has a one-in-three chance of going to prison, the department says.

For black male high school dropouts, Western says, the numbers are higher: 41 percent of black dropouts between ages 22 and 30 were locked up in 1999.

"I think this is one of the most important developments in race relations in the last 30 years," he says.

Some conservative analysts say that however regrettable the prison boom has been, it's working. It's no anomaly that the prison population is still rising despite a decade-long fall in the national crime rate, they say, but rather cause and effect.

"If you put someone in prison, you can be sure they're not going to rob you," says David B. Muhlhausen, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. "Quality research shows that ... increasing incarceration decreases crime." Considering that there are still about 12 million serious crimes a year, Muhlhausen says, "maybe we're not incarcerating enough people."

Miscreants have been locked up for centuries, but today's prisons are the legacy of 19th-century reformers' desire to rehabilitate wrongdoers rather than punish them with whipping, dunking in water or being displayed in public stocks.

Quaker influence was behind the creation in 1829 of Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, often considered the first modern American prison. It took a century and a half, until 1980, to reach 500,000 inmates. Then, in slightly more than 20 years, the prison and jail population grew by 1.5 million.

A major cause of the increase is the war on drugs. In 1980, says Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project in Washington, about 40,000 Americans were locked up solely for drug offenses. Now the number is 450,000, three-fourths of them black or Hispanic, although drug use is no higher in those groups than among whites.

"Drug abuse cuts across class and race," says Mauer, author of Race to Incarcerate. "But drug law enforcement is focused on low-income neighborhoods."

Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie-Mellon University, says locking up drug dealers does not necessarily reduce their number, because new recruits quickly take their place.

The well-established penal theory of "incapacitation," Blumstein says, dictates that "if a guy's committing 10 crimes a year and you lock him up for two years, you've prevented 20 crimes," Blumstein says. "That works for rape and robbery. But with drugs, there's a resilient market out there. The incarceration of drug offenders is largely an exercise in futility."

A second major reason for the rise in imprisonment is the politically popular shift to longer sentences with mandatory minimums, "three-strikes" laws and "truth-in-sentencing" measures to eliminate early parole.

"Since the 1970s, there's been a growing politicization of punishment policy," Blumstein says. "It's the 30-second sound bite of the prison door slamming, with the implicit promise, 'Vote for me and I'll slam the door.'" A tough stance on sentencing usually wins votes, whether or not it ultimately reduces crime.

Blumstein says the most rigorous recent studies suggest that about 25 percent of the drop in crime in recent years resulted from locking up more criminals. The rest resulted from other factors, among them the ebbing of the crack cocaine epidemic, changed policing strategies and the strong economy of the 1990s.Now, with many state budgets in crisis, there are hints of a turnaround. Justice Department figures show that nine states reduced their prison populations last year, including Texas, Illinois and New York.

The number of prisoners was still rising in far more states, including Maryland, where the prison population - excluding jails - has more than tripled since 1980, to about 24,000.

But many governors and legislators are wondering whether they can afford to house more and more offenders at an average of $25,000 a year apiece.

"Even some of your more right-wing people are saying, 'Let's see what we can do to get some people out of prison to save some money,'" says Reginald A. Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and president of the association of state prison chiefs.

Like many prison professionals, Wilkinson says, "I always thought we locked up too many people." He says he's taking advantage of the budget squeeze to push for cheaper alternatives. Ohio's state prison population has fallen from its 1998 high of 49,000 to 45,000, and two prisons have been closed, he says.

In Maryland, there's no talk of closing prisons. Major expansions are planned or under way at North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland and Eastern Correctional Institution on the Eastern Shore to add 396 beds to the crowded system.

"Maryland would seem to be stuck in neutral," says Judith A. Greene, a senior fellow at the Justice Policy Institute who has tracked the beginning of a turnaround in other states.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his secretary of public safety and correctional services, Mary Ann Saar, have said they want to use drug treatment and closer supervision of parolees to keep former offenders from returning to prison.

Saar's planned programs "all have the goal of getting people out of prison and keeping them out," says Mark A. Vernarelli, director of public information for the department of public safety. Still, he adds, given the steady flow of prisoners sent by the courts, "we maintain a constant vigil for land for new prisons."

Source:  www.BaltimoreSun.com June 1, 2003 

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Report of the Research Committee
on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings
Thomas Jefferson Foundation


January 2000

Conclusions

Based on the examination of currently available primary and secondary documentary evidence, the oral histories of descendants of Monticello's African-American community, recent scientific studies, and the guidance of individual members of Monticello's Advisory Committee for the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies and Advisory Committee on African-American Interpretation, the Research Committee has reached the following conclusions:

Dr. Foster's DNA study was conducted in a manner that meets the standards of the scientific community, and its scientific results are valid.

The DNA study, combined with multiple strands of currently available documentary and statistical evidence, indicates a high probability that Thomas Jefferson fathered Eston Hemings, and that he most likely was the father of all six of Sally Hemings's children appearing in Jefferson's records. Those children are Harriet, who died in infancy; Beverly; an unnamed daughter who died in infancy; Harriet; Madison; and Eston.

Many aspects of this likely relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson are, and may remain, unclear, such as the nature of the relationship, the existence and longevity of Sally Hemings's first child, and the identity of Thomas C. Woodson.

The implications of the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson should be explored and used to enrich the understanding and interpretation of Jefferson and the entire Monticello community.—Monticello

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Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account 

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom (1777), the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and founder of the University of Virginia (1819). He was an influential Founding Father and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy.

Sarah "Sally" Hemings (Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia, circa 1773 – Charlottesville, Virginia, 1835) was a mixed-race slave owned by President Thomas Jefferson through inheritance from his wife. She was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson by their father John Wayles. She was notable because most historians now believe that the widower Jefferson had six children with her, and maintained an extended relationship for 38 years until his death. When Jefferson's relationship and children were reported in 1802, there was sensational coverage for a time, but Jefferson remained silent on the issue. Four Hemings-Jefferson children survived to adulthood. He let two "escape" in 1822 at the age of 21 and freed the younger two in his will in 1826.

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Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

By Annette Gordon-Reed

Attorney Gordon-Reed (law, New York Law Sch.) presents a lawyer's analysis of the evidence for and against the proposition that Jefferson was the father of several children born to his household slave Sally Hemings. Gordon-Reed is not concerned with Jefferson and Hemings as much as she is with how Jefferson's defenders have dealt with the evidence about the case. Her book takes aim at such noteworthy biographers as Dumas Malone, who has been quick to accept evidence against a liaison and quick to reject evidence for one.—Library Journal

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
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#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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The Women Jefferson Loved

By Virginia Scharff

According to historian Scharff, Thomas Jefferson’s “most closely guarded secrets, the most fiercely maintained silences, all had to do with the women he loved.” It stands to reason that in order to fully understand a man as tremendously gifted and as deeply flawed as Thomas Jefferson, one must also understand and appreciate the women who collectively formed the foundation of his life and shaped the nature of his legacy. Although Jefferson’s mother, daughters, granddaughters, wife, and enslaved mistress were all fascinating women who played distinct roles in his life and legend, they were also creatures of their time and place, living, enduring, and playing by the rules of a patriarchal, male-dominated society. By studying these women Scharff not only opens a window to the heart and soul of one of our nation’s founders but also resurrects their own contributions to our nation’s history.—Booklist

The chapter on Sally Hemings does not add much new information, but it certainly lays out the facts we know in a comprehensive and well organized fashion. Much like Professor Gordon-Reed, the author carefully explains the strange dual-family existence that prevailed at Monticello, and how servants integrated with the Jefferson family as they all lived together. As regards the two daughters, they too emerge from the historical darkness and we learn a great deal about them and their important role in TJ's life and activities. As I read each chapter, I learned all manner of things of which I had not been aware, and I have read a lot of material on TJ. So women are central to the story, but there is also an abundance of additional facts and perspectives that very much enhance the book. —Ronald H. Clark

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The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

By Annette Gordon-Reed

 

This is a scholar's book: serious, thick, complex. It's also fascinating, wise and of the utmost importance. Gordon-Reed, a professor of both history and law who in her previous book helped solve some of the mysteries of the intimate relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, now brings to life the entire Hemings family and its tangled blood links with slave-holding Virginia whites over an entire century. Gordon-Reed never slips into cynicism about the author of the Declaration of Independence. Instead, she shows how his life was deeply affected by his slave kinspeople: his lover (who was the half-sister of his deceased wife) and their children. Everyone comes vividly to life, as do the places, like Paris and Philadelphia, in which Jefferson, his daughters and some of his black family lived. —Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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