Apologizing for the Clintons’ Crime Bill Isn’t Enough, We Must Now Rebuild Our Communities

It is often said that if we do not learn from our history we are doomed to repeat it. I applaud Rep. Bobby Rush's apology for supporting Clinton's crime bill. He doesn't apologize for the fact he desperately wanted to do something about crack addiction and crack-related violence, and of course he shouldn't apologize for that. Instead he apologizes for supporting a bill that contributed to the destruction of our most vulnerable communities. He apologizes for voting for an approach that offered no … [Read more...]

The Year in Review: Ten Highlights (or Low Lights) in the Criminal Justice World

With 2015 rapidly slipping away, it's time to take stock of where we are in the never-ending fight to put just a little more justice into the American criminal justice system. This is a very crude accounting offered by just one person. I urge you to do the exercise for yourself. It's easier to keep our eyes on the prize when we are also clear-sighted about the hits and misses we experience in real time. Since these year-enders usually highlight ten trends or ten stories, I'm serving up just … [Read more...]

Police Killings of Blacks: Here Is What the Data Say

Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Michael Brown. Each killing raises a disturbing question: Would any of these people have been killed by police officers if they had been white? I have no special insight into the psychology of police officers or into the complicated forensics involved in such cases. Answering this question in any single situation can be difficult and divisive. Two outside experts this month concluded, for example, that the shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy in … [Read more...]

Michelle Alexander: Ferguson Shows Why Criminal Justice System of “Racial Control” Should Be Undone

The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the police and city courts in Ferguson, Missouri, routinely engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against African Americans. Despite comprising about 66 percent of the local population, African Americans accounted for 93 percent of arrests, 88 percent of incidents where force was used, 90 percent of citations and 85 percent of traffic stops. The Justice Department, which launched its report after the police killing of Michael Brown, … [Read more...]

Night to Bear Witness

Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." -- Matthew 26:52 With the humility of a lay person, I offer the above words as a succinct symbol of what has been going on with the War on Drugs. Have our legal policies and postures in the last several decades improved the situation or have they fanned the flames and come back to bite us? RAPP's next film will examine the economic and moral failure of the War on Drugs. "The … [Read more...]

Michelle Alexander, Justice on Trial Film Festival Hit Homeruns

hat happens when you combine the efforts of a few dedicated activists, a few Hollywood stars, the likes of Michelle Alexander and Susan Burton, with some great documentaries on the beautiful campus of Loyola Marymount University? You get an overwhelmingly successful, first ever of its kind, film festival dedicated to putting a spotlight on the American justice system. The Justice on Trial Film Festival was the brainchild of Susan Burton, founder and director of A New Way of Life Reentry … [Read more...]

The American inJustice System

Per capita, the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any industrialized nation in the world. Over 2.3 million Americans are living behind bars. And if you think that number is staggering, consider this - according to a report in the New Yorker Magazine,when you factor in the people who are on parole, probation, juvenile detention and other forms of state control, the United States is keeping six million people under some form of correctional supervision—more than were in Stalin’s … [Read more...]

“The New Jim Crow:” Mass Incarceration and Its Impact

WHEREAS, according to the Center for Center for Law and Justice in a summary of the book by author Michelle Alexander, notes that “more African Americans are under the control of the criminal justice system today – in prison or jail, on probation or parole – than were enslaved in 1850”; AND WHEREAS, it is widely known that formerly incarcerated persons face discrimination, prejudice and stigma in housing, education, employment, and voting rights because of the “felon” label; AND WHEREAS, … [Read more...]

Coming October 20-21: A Film Festival Like No Other

Those of us who have been fighting the battle for dignity and justice for a long, long time sometimes forget how powerful we are. We sometimes forget how many of us there are. We can even forget how much heart there is in our movement. That's why we come together from time to time to rally and march. And that's also why in less than a month we will gather in force here in LA at the first-ever film festival to focus exclusively on the struggle against mass incarceration. We are calling it … [Read more...]

Michelle Alexander: A Moral Revolution

This is a repost from a message Michelle Alexander posted on her Facebook Fanpage on August 28, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom For the past several years, I have spent virtually all my working hours writing about or speaking about the immorality, cruelty, racism, and insanity of our nation's latest caste system: mass incarceration. On this Facebook page I have written and posted about little else. But as I pause today to reflect on the … [Read more...]