Fear can be a powerful tool: our politicians warn us that drugs and violence are seeping into our safe communities, and that, if elected, they can help put a stop to it. Once elected, these mostly white men support Criminal Justice System policies that inhibit the personal liberties of our poor and our minorities. Certain policies, such as our “War on Drugs” and Sentencing Guidelines, have at least been acknowledged as racially biased. Others, such as Three Strikes Laws and Mandatory Minimums, are a bit more covert. Sadly, the policies used by our law enforcement and judicial system disproportionately target black and Latino males during every step of the criminal process. And both before and after these inner-city minorities are put through the system, they are faced with struggles from every angle, including housing, education, and the economy. Their families are forced to struggle as they are filtered through our prisons and jails, and their situation does not improve upon their release. Society has decided that once you have been convicted of a crime, you are no longer entitled to those opportunities that might help you get back on your feet. Ex-offenders are deprived of voting rights, financial aid, public housing, job opportunities, and any chance of being treated as a legitimate member of society. These mostly male blacks and Latinos from the inner-city are given no help transitioning back into society, and then scolded when they fall back into crime. Their family, friends, and communities are treated as guilty by association, and left with little financial or political recourse to change the situation. There is a severe lack of honesty and transparency in our Criminal Justice System, and no opportunity for real public discourse. This article attempts to expose these truths, in the hope that a better-informed polity can replace scared, white suburbanites in the polls, and we can start to see some real societal change.
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