Friday, April 19, 2013
Same Face, New Mask
This blog post is in response to Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow. After reading portions of the novel, it is apparent to me that majority the American population continues life as usual instead of demanding and protesting the justice system that has become a systematic industry of social control. In the introduction Alexander refers to the adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. Society has gone through several eras of racial and gender inequality in the hopes of achieving equally. Regardless of the strides that were made, the status quo of society reappears in different forms. Much like voter disenfranchisement that occurred during the Jim Crow era, convicted persons often lose their right to vote in local and state elections even after completing their sentence. This issue is pertinent in Florida where individuals who have completed their sentences, parole and probation have to be granted their right to vote; which may be drawn out over a year. The argument is made that individuals who commit crimes forfeit their rights to vote. However if the criminal justice system claims to rehabilitate incarcerated persons, it should be understood that once their provisions are completed they can reenter in society. Withholding the voting rights of formerly incarcerated persons adversely affects the community’s ability to gain and protect their rights. A population with weak voting power often leaves it vulnerable to a sub par education system, and low environmental standards. It needs to be acknowledge that allow the grandfather clause is now longer in effect having a significantly large portion of African American males and other males of color in the correctional system has the same effect. Alexander calls for urgency and action in regards to the justice system. It is the fastest growing private industry in the country. Many studies have shown that the system is biased and targets effects particular individuals. Once an individual has gone through the system, there are lastly effects which makes it difficult for them to get permanent housing, jobs and healthcare. The reality of the justice system can longer be ignored.Open and honest conversations about protocol,policing and sentencing may lead to the root of the biased system then leading to real change.