Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Hillary On The Prison-Industrial Complex

Well, not 48 hours after Joan Morgan’s interview with Hillary Clinton went live, her campaign staff issued the following statement.

You might remember that the Vibe cover and website followups we did on Obama last year hammered at felon disenfranchisement and disproportionate incarceration, among other hip-hop gen issues.

No she doesn’t sound like Angela Davis. But especially for us older hip-hop gen activists who’re used to simply being ignored or attacked, it’s interestingto see how far Clinton and Obama–and by extension, the Dems–have come in terms of seeing the hip-hop generation and its issues as important enough to address…

Statement from Hillary Rodham Clinton

“America’s prison population has grown at a staggering rate over the past quarter century. A new report now reveals a staggering and heart-breaking statistic: One in 100 American adults is currently behind bars. Our incarceration rate is several times greater than that of any other developed country. To state it plainly, the 1-in-100 figure represents a failure of our society at a number of levels. And the cost – to our families, to our communities, and to state budgets to the tune of almost $50 billion – are simply too great to bear. Many of those costs are borne disproportionately by minority communities: One in 15 African American adults is behind bars, and one in 36 Hispanic adults. We need a President who will be tough on crime, but smart about it too. A President who will take innovative steps to ensure our crime policies are reducing crime in the long run so that we have fewer victims of crime and fewer prisoners.

“To reverse this alarming trend, interventions are needed before crimes are committed, before offenders are shipped to prison, during their terms of incarceration, and as they are released and begin to reintegrate themselves into our communities. I will work to deter crime by re-investing in our communities, re-invigorating the COPS program, and putting 100,000 new officers committed to community policing into neighborhoods across America. Studies have shown that the COPS program deters crime. And I will close the revolving prison door by reforming our sentencing policies, promoting effective alternatives to incarceration, and investing in new “second chance” Reentry Partnership Grants to support reformed offenders and reduce recidivism. The solutions are within our grasp. What we need now is leadership, and that’s what I’ll provide.”

posted by @ 2:13 pm | 1 Comment

One Response to “Hillary On The Prison-Industrial Complex”

  1. johnkerr1147 says:

    Doctors prescribing more pain meds than federal authorities think necessary…Ordinary citizens who didn’t realize it’s against the law to keep more cash on hand than the feds deem appropriate…property appraisers who value homes for more than federal authorities think they’re worth…every member of any orgainzation or business network targeted by federal agents, regardless of whether they’ve done anything wrong individually (for a real scare read the federal conspiracy statutes sometime; basically it’s illegal even to know someone who’s SUSPECTED of wrongdoing, let alone actually guilty of it)…anybody who records cable TV movies on their dvd recorder…gardeners who put pesticide on plants in ways other than the one specified by the feds…etc. etc etc. There are more ways for ordinary citizens to end up in prison these days than most Americans realize. And most of those who do know don’t know until it involves someone they know or care about.

    Nobody knows the exact number, but at least 4,000 activities have been criminalized in the past 20 years or so, all of them carrying mandatory federal prison sentences.

    Never mind all the non-violent first offenders being lost to astonishingly long prison terms for possessing drugs, regardless of whether they were victimizing anyone but themselves.

    Not even specialty lawyers can keep up with the criminalization boom. In fact, lots of people in federal prisons, especially small time “white collar criminals,” were convicted despite having been advised by specialty lawyers in the activities that resulted in their convictions.

    Why is this happening? Because appearing to be “tough on crime” is good business for ambitious politicians, and expanding prison populations are good business for private companies that operate a growing number of for-profit prisons in America.

    So Hillary deserves praise for calling attention to an important issue. Time will tell if it’s just more campaign blather.

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