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Report: Incarceration Shows Little to No Effect on Crime

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black man in jail

 

By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In the last two decades mass incarceration, a system that has a disproportionate negative impact on the Black community, has had little to no effect on crime, according to a new report.

The United States accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s population and one-quarter of the world’s incarcerated population, “nine to ten times that of many European countries,” the report said and roughly 40 percent of the 2.3 million people that are locked up in jail or prison are Black.

Researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for criminal justice reform, looked at 14 of the most common theories associated with the decline of crime, including incarceration, an aging population, decreased alcohol use, consumer confidence and even decreased lead in gasoline and found that the current levels of incarceration were ineffective in reducing crime.

Inimai Chettiar, the director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center, wrote that mass incarceration has been a vast, costly social experiment that has spanned four decades.

Chettiar said, “At current rates, one in three black males can expect to spend time behind bars. This archipelago of prisons and jails costs more than $80 billion annually – about equivalent to the budget of the federal Department of Education.”

The report said that from 1990-1999 an aging population, decreased alcohol consumption, decreased unemployment, growth in income, increased rates of incarceration and the number of police likely had an effect on crime.

“Since 2000, the effect on the crime rate of increasing incarceration, in other words, adding individuals to the prison population, has been essentially zero,” stated the report. “Increased incarceration accounted for approximately 6 percent of the reduction in property crime in the 1990s (this could vary statistically from 0 to 12 percent), and accounted for less than 1 percent of the decline in property crime this century.”

From 2000-2013 consumer confidence, decreased alcohol consumption, income growth, inflation and the introduction of CompStat (COMParative STATistics) contributed to falling crime rates.

The basic principles of CompStat include accurate, timely intelligence, effective tactics, rapid deployment, a targeted policing plan, and follow-up and assessment.

According to the report, CompStat-style programs accounted for about 5 to 15 percent decrease in crime in city urban police departments where they were employed. The report also noted that CompStat policies were different than policing tactics like broken windows, hot spots, or stop-and-frisk.

Researchers said that CompStat contributed to the sharp decline New York City’s from 1994 to 2012, a 63 percent fall vs. 27.2 percent nationwide.

When researchers examined state-level data, they found that slow-moving criminal justice reform contributed to diminishing returns of incarceration.

For years, mandatory minimum sentencing, “10-20-life” and “three strikes” laws contributed to incredible growth in Florida’s jail and prison population.

“By 2010, Florida’s incarceration rate was 38 percent higher than the national average,” the report said. “Since 1980, the effectiveness of increased incarceration in Florida has been declining. In 1980, the state’s prison population was 20,735. In 2002, when the prison population exceeded 75,000, the effectiveness of increased incarceration reached a level that was effectively zero. By 2013, Florida’s prison population skyrocketed to 103,028.”

Even though state lawmakers in Florida passed legislation to abolish mandatory minimums for some low-level drug offenders, the report said that “without major reforms, the state continues to suffer from high rates of recidivism, probation violations, and juveniles graduating to the adult system.”

Past felony convictions often make it difficult or impossible in some cases for ex-offenders to access federal housing, food and education aid and employers use criminal records to screen potential candidates. Limited opportunities on the outside often increase their chances of returning to prison. One in 9 Black children have a parent who is incarcerated increasing the likelihood that they will grow up poor with limited access to high quality education and opportunities continuing the cycle of poverty.

In the foreword to the Brennan Center report, Joseph Stiglitz, the former chairman of the United States Council of Economic Advisers and a 2001 recipient of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences wrote that the United States needed to work on decreasing the effects of socioeconomic inequality instead of investing in policies that destroy human potential today and handicap the country in the future.

Stiglitz stated: “When high levels of incarceration provide scant public safety benefit, it is pointless to continue using – wasting – resources in this way. Instead, the country should shift priorities away from policies proven to be ineffective and focus our energies on truly beneficial initiatives that both reduce crime and reduce mass incarceration.”

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Events

Bust of BPP Co-Founder Huey P. Newton to be Unveiled at West Oakland Block Party on Oct. 24

The Dr. Huey P.  Newton Foundation is hosting a block party celebration for the unveiling on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that will feature local artists, politicians and businesses and the community is invited. The event will be MC’d by Ms. Gina Belafonte.

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Rendering of the Huey P. Newton memorial bust that will be unveiled in Oakland, CA on Oct 24, 2021./ Artist rendering provided by Karin Unger

Installed on a granite base with a seating area for people to reflect on the legacy of Black Panther Party Co-Founder Huey Newton, the memorial bust of his image is the first permanent art installation honoring the BPP in the City of Oakland.

The Dr. Huey P.  Newton Foundation is hosting a block party celebration for the unveiling on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that will feature local artists, politicians and businesses and the community is invited. The event will be MC’d by Ms. Gina Belafonte.

The Foundation collaborated with world-renowned and local artist Dana King on the creation, which will be placed on Dr. Huey P. Newton Way (formerly 9th Street) and Mandela Parkway, the same street where Huey took his last breath more than 32 years ago.

The Black Panther Party was co-founded by Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. As the foundation and others commemorate the 55th anniversary of the BPP’s beginnings, the Party is remembered as both a small grassroots organization in Oakland and the international organization it grew into.

From legal self-defense from abusive police officers to survival programs that provided essential services, like free food, medical clinics, and education to the communities they served, the BPP was an exemplary organization of the Black Power era and continues to have rippling effects to this day.

Despite the FBI’s counterintelligence program, known as COINTELPRO, the Black Panther Party was the most influential revolutionary movement of the 20th century.

Newton’s widow, Fredrika Newton, founded The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation to preserve and promulgate the important history, legacy and contributions of the BPP. The Foundation is proud to gift the Huey Newton Memorial Bust to the City of Oakland as a permanent fixture in their landscape.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Coronavirus

Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State, 84

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease. 

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United States Army General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/ Wiki Commons

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

A four-star general who also served on the National Security Council, Powell was born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants in 1937. He attended public schools in the Bronx, where he grew up, and would graduate from City College of New York before joining the armed services in 1958 as a second lieutenant because of his participation in ROTC.

He was a professional soldier for 37 years, including two tours in Vietnam, rising steadily through the ranks until achieving 4-star general status in 1989 and, later that year, became the youngest and the first Afro-Caribbean to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.

Powell was an exceptional military leader.  He earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism.

A moderate, the lifelong Republican was well liked by both political parties, but he ultimately decided against running for public office himself.

He was selected in 2000 to be Secretary of State, transforming General Powell from soldier to statesman.

He became known for persuading the American public and world leaders that Iraq was creating weapons of mass destruction when he ultimately agreed with President George Bush’s administration determination to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 

It would turn out that the allegations of weapons of mass destruction were not true and Powell would consider the war and loss of life a blot on his record the rest of his life. He returned to private life in 2005 and became an acclaimed speaker in high demand.

He broke rank with his fellow Republicans when he supported then-candidate Barack Obama’s bid for president in 2008. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.

Powell earned the trust of U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, diplomats, and the American people.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of General Colin Powell. I send my sincere condolences to General Powell’s wife, Alma, his family, his friends, and all of his loved ones” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

“General Powell was a trailblazer, serving as the first Black Secretary of State,” Lee continued. “I was fortunate enough to travel with General Powell during my early days in Congress to monitor elections in Nigeria and was moved by his kindness and expertise. I witnessed the close friendship between the late Congressman Ron Dellums, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and General Powell.

“Their relationship was a powerful example of a mutual admiration and respect between public officials despite their different opinions on policy. Despite our disagreements on some issues, General Powell was steadfast in his commitment to racial equity, diversity and our democracy. General Powell served this country with decency, integrity, and showed respect to everyone he encountered.

“May he rest in eternal peace and power,” Lee concluded.

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, and three children.

Sources for this story include various news sites, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s press office and Wikipedia.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

 

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Events

Ella Baker Center Turns 25

Community members will have the opportunity to join the celebration virtually or in person at Restore Oakland at 1419 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601.

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Michelle Alexander/Photo via pbs.org

Alicia Garza

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Alicia Garza and Michelle Alexander, acclaimed author of “The New Jim Crow,” will join youth justice leader Xochtil Larios to discuss a collective vision for liberation at the Ella Baker Center’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27.

After 25 years of working to empower Black and Brown communities and fighting for a world without prisons and policing, the event will seek to inspire organizers, community members and changemakers to reflect on past victories in the movement for social justice and imagine how to continue moving toward a world based on justice.

The event will include entertainment by musicians, poets as well as comments by founders of the Ella Baker Center, Dianna Frappier and Van Jones. Community members will have the opportunity to join the celebration virtually or in person at Restore Oakland at 1419 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601.

The in-person event will be held outdoors and available to vaccinated guests only. 

To RSVP for the virtual event, please email ashley@ellabakercenter.org by Oct. 14 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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