Op-Ed: Great start, Mr. President. Bring on more mass pardons, but let’s also stop with the false equivalency of “mass incarceration” vs. “mass incarceration of black lives.” How many white lives will be taken by police departments in the same time period, but are not held in jails or prisons? It’s time to stop this racial hyperbole and admit the real truth, which is that there’s more violence between black people here in the United States than there is between black Americans and their white counterparts.
The Op-Ed is from “Injustice, Inc.,” an excellent documentary about the history of “mass incarceration,” from the days of slavery to the present.
If we had black lives, as we have so many, in every state in this country, we would be far more likely to be arrested on a daily basis.
At the end of the Civil Rights Movement, there were only 2 percent of black men between the ages of 15 and 34 who were in prison in the entire United States. But today, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 40 percent of black men in their 20s are serving prison terms. That’s more than 100,000 men, most of whom are black men, but also a little more than 70,000 black women, who are serving prison terms for crimes committed between ages 18 and 24.
There are more black men in prison today than black women.
The majority of blacks who are incarcerated are serving time for serious nonviolent crimes, like aggravated assault, simple robbery, and drug possession. They are arrested by the hundreds or thousands, but they are sent to prisons in the South, the Midwest, the West, and the Northeast.
When you look at the criminal statistics, black men are more than 15 times more likely to go to prison than white men.
There’s a huge difference between a black man being arrested by police, and being sent to jail in the South, as opposed to being sent to prison here in the North or the West, or being imprisoned in the US military.
If we had as many black lives as we have today, and were not criminalized, we would have more black men serving prison terms, or incarcerated in US prisons, and living free for the rest of their lives.
The fact that black men are more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to be sentenced to prison, points to an important fact: crime