Sunday, December 4, 2016

Black Mashed Potatoes

The Scourge of Racism in New York State Prisons:

The racism can be felt from the moment black inmates enter New York’s upstate prisons.

They describe being called porch monkeys, spear chuckers and worse. There are cases of guards ripping out dreadlocks. One inmate, John Richard, reported that he was jumped at Clinton Correctional Facility by a guard who threatened to “serve up some black mashed potatoes with tomato sauce.”

“As soon as you come through receiving, they let you know whose house it is,” said Darius Horton, who was recently released from Groveland Correctional Facility after serving six years for assault.

A review by The New York Times of tens of thousands of disciplinary cases against inmates in 2015, hundreds of pages of internal reports and three years of parole decisions found that racial disparities were embedded in the prison experience in New York.

In most prisons, blacks and Latinos were disciplined at higher rates than whites — in some cases twice as often, the analysis found. They were also sent to solitary confinement more frequently and for longer durations. At Clinton, a prison near the Canadian border where only one of the 998 guards is African-American, black inmates were nearly four times as likely to be sent to isolation as whites, and they were held there for an average of 125 days, compared with 90 days for whites.

A greater share of black inmates are in prison for violent offenses, and minority inmates are disproportionately younger, factors that could explain why an inmate would be more likely to break prison rules, state officials said. But even after accounting for these elements, the disparities in discipline persisted, The Times found.
I could sit here and quote the entire article, confirming once again, point for point, what penologists and other corrections experts have been saying for years: the legacy of the racist War on Drugs can be found in the racial disparities, disparate treatments, and segregation of the inmate populations in state and federal prisons throughout the country.

Black and Latino inmates routinely serve longer sentences, serve more punishments within correctional facilities, and suffer abuse at the hands of largely white, rural correctional officers. And it's not just the Empire State (which as a native New Yorker, is the only solace I can find in this story). It's everywhere.

With an incoming Attorney General who thinks "mandatory minimum sentences are right good," and is generally known to be against sentencing and prison reform, one can only expect things to get worse. 

Read the article...this is America in 2016.

UPDATE: A follow up article this morning (12/5) on the rampant racism found in the New York State Parole Board and the way it makes decisions.
The racial disparity in parole decisions in the state is perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of a broken system. Intended as a progressive tool to promote good behavior, parole has devolved into a hurried, often chaotic procedure. Inmates typically get less than 10 minutes to plead their cases before they are sent back to their cells.

The parole board has not been fully staffed for years and rarely sees a prisoner in person. Inmates are usually glimpsed from the shoulders up on a video screen.

Commissioners — as board members are called — often read through files to prepare for the next interview as the inmate speaks. The whole process is run like an assembly line. They hear cases just two days a week and see as many as 80 inmates in that time.

Board members are mainly from upstate, earn more than $100,000 annually and hold their positions for years. They tend to have backgrounds in law enforcement rather than rehabilitation. Most are white; there is currently only one black man, and there are no Latino men.

In short, they have little in common with the black and Latino inmates who make up nearly three-quarters of the state prison population.
Again, quelle surprise. 

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