Students called n word, chased through woods on field tripPosted: Sep 19, 2013 12:42 PM CESTUpdated: Sep 19, 2013 11:06 PM CESTBy Steven Yablonski, Managing Editor – emailBy Karen Lee – email HARTFORD, CT WFSB -Imagine sending your child on a class trip, then finding out she and her classmates were called the “n” word and chased through the woods. It was part of a slavery re-enactment that some parents said crossed the line.Additional LinksParents explain controversial field tripOne couple said their 12-year-old daughter came home from the field trip with horror stories, and now theyve filed a complaint against the school district.”I ask that you imagine these phrases being yelled at our 12-year-old child and their friends,” parent Sandra Baker said at a Hartford School Board meeting. “Bring those n-word to the house over there. N-word if you can read, theres a problem. Dumb, dark-skinned n-word. How dare you look at me?”Baker said screaming that at children on a field trip is abuse.”They intentionally terrorized them and abused them on this field trip,” she said.Sandra Baker and her husband James Baker have been on a 10-month fight with the Hartford School District that theyve now taken to the school board.It started during the past school year when their daughter was a seventh-grader at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. She and her classmates went on a four-day trip to the Natures Classroom in Charlton, MA.On the third night, there was a slavery re-enactment that Sandra Baker said none of the parents knew about.James Baker shared his daughters experiences with the Hartford School Board.”The instructor told me if I were to run, they would whip me until I bled on the floor and then either cut my Achilles so I couldnt run again, or hang me,” he told the school board.They pretended to be on a slave ship.They pretended to pick cotton.They pretended their instructors were their masters.The Bakers said the program told kids they didnt have to participate in the Underground Railroad skit, but were only told about the re-enactment 30 minutes before it began.”The fact that they used the n word. I mean, how dare you say that to my child and call it an educational experience. How dare you say that to any child.” Sandra Baker said.She said she cant believe the school has been taking part in the trip for years and never saw a problem with it. Shes filed complaints with the state Department of Education, Human Rights Commission and offices of civil rights.”Its a town of people of color,” she said. “Really. I mean, Hartford. You could not see something was wrong with this?”The Bakers said they pulled their daughter out of the Hartford School District.Channel 3 Eyewitness News reached out to the Natures Classroom and hasnt heard back.Copyright 2013 WFSB Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. by Taboola
By Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch
Classification Symbolization Dehumanization Organization Polarization Preparation Extermination Denial
Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process.
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide. The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide.
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the 1980’s, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, where the government refused to supply enough yellow badges and at least eighty percent of Jews did not wear them, depriving the yellow star of its significance as a Nazi symbol for Jews.
3. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated differently than democracies. Local and international leaders should condemn the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable. Leaders who incite genocide should be banned from international travel and have their foreign finances frozen. Hate radio stations should be shut down, and hate propaganda banned. Hate crimes and atrocities should be promptly punished.
4. ORGANIZATION: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings. To combat this stage, membership in these militias should be outlawed. Their leaders should be denied visas for foreign travel. The U.N. should impose arms embargoes on governments and citizens of countries involved in genocidal massacres, and create commissions to investigate violations, as was done in post-genocide Rwanda.
5. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide, so are the first to be arrested and killed. Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance to human rights groups. Assets of extremists may be seized, and visas for international travel denied to them. Coups d’état by extremists should be opposed by international sanctions.
6. PREPARATION: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. At this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. If the political will of the great powers, regional alliances, or the U.N. Security Council can be mobilized, armed international intervention should be prepared, or heavy assistance provided to the victim group to prepare for its self-defense. Otherwise, at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the U.N. and private relief groups for the inevitable tide of refugees to come.
7. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). At this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop genocide. Real safe areas or refugee escape corridors should be established with heavily armed international protection. (An unsafe “safe” area is worse than none at all.) The U.N. Standing High Readiness Brigade, EU Rapid Response Force, or regional forces — should be authorized to act by the U.N. Security Council if the genocide is small. For larger interventions, a multilateral force authorized by the U.N. should intervene. If the U.N. is paralyzed, regional alliances must act. It is time to recognize that the international responsibility to protect transcends the narrow interests of individual nation states. If strong nations will not provide troops to intervene directly, they should provide the airlift, equipment, and financial means necessary for regional states to intervene.
8. DENIAL is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile. There they remain with impunity, like Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them. The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts. There the evidence can be heard, and the perpetrators punished. Tribunals like the Yugoslav or Rwanda Tribunals, or an international tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or an International Criminal Court may not deter the worst genocidal killers. But with the political will to arrest and prosecute them, some may be brought to justice.
© 1998 Gregory H. Stanton. Originally presented as a briefing paper at the US State Department in 1996.
- The Genocide In Rwanda (colishia.wordpress.com)
- The Path to Genocide (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Reflection on “I have a dream” speech 50 -year-anniversary (reparation4genocidesurvivors.wordpress.com)
Hip-hop hit a milestone this week, turning 40 years old. The same week, federal district court Judge Shira Scheindlin, in a 195-page ruling, declared the New York Police Department’s practice of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional. Hip-hop and stop-and-frisk are central aspects of the lives of millions of people, especially black and Latino youths.
Ahmir Thompson was just two years old when hip-hop got its start in 1973, but already had shown his talent for music. Thompson is now known professionally as Questlove, an accomplished musician and producer, music director and drummer for the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop band the Roots, which is the house band on the NBC show “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”. He and the Roots soon will move with Fallon to the even more popular “The Tonight Show”.
Despite his success, Questlove confronts racism in his daily life. But he has built a platform, a following, which he uses to challenge the status quo – like stop-and-frisk.
“There’s nothing like the first time that a gun is held on you,” Questlove told me. He was recalling the first time he was subjected to a stop-and-frisk:
I was coming home from teen Bible study on a Friday night … And we were driving home, and then, seconds later, on Washington Avenue in Philly, cops stopped us … I just remember the protocol. I remember my father telling me, ‘If you’re ever in this position, you’re to slowly keep your hands up.’
A quarter of a century later, just a few weeks ago, Questlove was heading home to Manhattan from Brooklyn after a weekly DJ gig. He was pulled over by the NYPD. He told me:
They walked up, asked to see license and registration. And it was like four of them with flashlights everywhere … They wanted to know, ‘Are you in a cab? Is this a cab? Where’s your New York taxi license?’ I have my own car, and I have my own driver.
He felt they were treating him like a drug don. He showed them his newly released memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, with its stylized, psychedelic portrait of him on the cover.
They looked, and they kind of had a meeting for five minutes. And then, it was like, ‘Oh, OK, you can go.’ But this happens all the time.
As when Questlove was campaigning for Obama with Jurnee Smollett, an actor on the hit vampire show, “True Blood”. He had bought a housewarming gift for his manager, and pulled over the car to take a phone call. He described what followed:
So I pulled over, talked, finished the conversation. Five cars stopped us, and pretty much that was the most humiliating experience, because, we had to get out the car. They made us spread on the car … [Jurnee’s] like, ‘This is unconstitutional! They’re not … this is an illegal search.’
But search they did. The next night, he and The Roots won another Grammy.
Between 2002 and 2012, the NYPD conducted more than 4.8 million stop-and-frisks. More than 80% of those targeted were black or Latino. Judge Sheindlin, in her decision, specifically criticized New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly. Kelly, who is said to be a candidate for Obama’s next secretary of Homeland Security, said:
What I find most disturbing and offensive about this decision is the notion that the NYPD engages in racial profiling.
I asked Questlove, with all he’s accomplished, what he is most proud of, and what he still hopes to do.
I’m extremely grateful to have survived – literally just survived, because, you know, I’m still wondering: Will anyone in the hip-hop culture ever make it to 65? Will we have our first hip-hop senior citizen?
The richest country in the world could and should inspire higher hopes than merely surviving. But for Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and the hip-hop generation he represents, targeted by police policies like stop-and-frisk, it is no surprise. This is America in 2013.
• Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column
© 2013 Amy Goodman; distributed by King Features Syndicate
Michelle Alexander wrote a paradigm-shifting exploration of modern racism, the so-called war on drugs and the prison-industrial complex. You can obtain a copy of this eye-opening paperback, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” directly from Truthout right now by clicking here.
Mark Karlin: Before we get into the details, is it accurate to characterize your thesis, in a colloquial way, by saying that institutionalized racial casting is alive and even ratcheting up in the United states in 2012?
Michelle Alexander: Yes, I do believe that something akin to a racial caste system is alive and well in America. For reasons that have stunningly little to do with crime or crime rates, we, as a nation, have chosen to lock up more than two million people behind bars. Millions more are on probation or parole, or branded felons for life and thus locked into a permanent second-class status. The mass incarceration of poor people of color, particularly black men, has emerged as a new caste system, one specifically designed to address the social, economic, and political challenges of our time. It is, in my view, the moral equivalent of Jim Crow.
MK: You identify the key societal perpetuation of the stigmatization of the black male as the so-called “criminal justice system.” It appears to have become an accepted bureaucratic injustice.
MA: Mass incarceration has become normalized in the United States. Poor folks of color are shuttled from decrepit, underfunded schools to brand new, high tech prisons and then relegated to a permanent undercaste – stigmatized as undeserving of any moral care or concern. Black men in ghetto communities (and many who live in middle class communities) are targeted by the police at early ages, often before they’re old enough to vote. They’re routinely stopped, frisked, and searched without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Eventually they’re arrested, whether they’ve committed any serious crime or not, and branded criminals or felons for life. Upon release, they’re ushered into a parallel social universe in which the civil and human rights supposedly won during the Civil Rights Movement no longer apply to them. For the rest of their lives, they can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. So many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again once you’ve been branded a felon. That’s why I say we haven’t ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. In many large urban areas, the majority of working age African American men now have criminal records and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives. It is viewed as “normal” in ghetto communities to go to prison or jail. One study conducted in Washington, D.C. indicated that 3 out of 4 black men, and nearly all those living in the poorest neighborhoods could expect to find themselves behind bars at some point in their life. Nationwide, 1 in 3 black men can expect to serve time behind bars, but the rates are far higher in segregated and impoverished black communities. A massive new penal system has emerged in the past few decades – a penal system unprecedented in world history. It is a system driven almost entirely by race and class.
MK: How fast has our prison incarceration rate grown and to what extent does the growth correlate with the arrest of black males for nonviolent offenses? Doesn’t the US have the largest incarceration rate in the world?
MA: The United States does have the highest rate of incarceration in the world dwarfing the rates of even highly repressive regimes like Russia, China or Iran. This reflects a radical shift in criminal justice policy, a stunning development that virtually no one – not even the best criminologists – predicted forty years ago. Our prison population quintupled in a thirty year period of time. Not doubled or tripled – quintupled. We went from a prison and jail population of about 300,000 to now more than 2 million. Most people seem to assume that this dramatic surge in imprisonment was due to a corresponding surge in crime, particularly violent crime. But that simply isn’t true. During the same period of time that incarceration rates skyrocketed, crime rates fluctuated. Crime rates went up, then went down, then went up, then went down again. Today, crime rates are at historical lows. But incarceration rates – throughout all of these fluctuations – have consistently soared. Most criminologists today will acknowledge that crime rates and incarceration rates in the United States have had relatively little to do with each other. Incarceration rates – especially black incarceration rates – have soared regardless of whether crime has been going up or down in any given community or the nation as a whole.
Grandiosity, manipulation, and lack of empathy. Authors of a recent book on subclinical psychopathy consider how people with these traits may be drawn to the high stakes of corporate life.
Swiss psychiatrist Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig, author of The Emptied Soul: On the Nature of the Psychopath (1980), believes that there are many psychopaths who hold upstanding positions in society, including businesspeople. He refers to them as compensated psychopaths. We call them almost psychopaths or subclinical psychopaths. It makes sense that people who are almost psychopathic can be found in the business world; psychopaths are attracted to power and money the way sharks are attracted to chum. Many psychopaths thrive on fast-moving situations where the outcome is what matters. And while robbing banks might make sense to psychopaths who score high on the “socially deviant lifestyle” elements of the PCL-R [the screen for psychopathy], those whose psychopathic traits are more heavily weighted in the direction of narcissism and Machiavellianism would more likely be attracted to a corporate setting where, in many cases, they can be rewarded for their manipulative and ruthless ways.
The developer of the PCL-R himself, Robert Hare, once observed that in addition to studying psychopaths in prison, he should have spent time at the Stock Exchange as well. His point was that there is no shortage of psychopathic behavior in the business world, no end to the charming, manipulative, credit-stealing, colleague-blaming conduct that defines psychopathy. These almost psychopathic and truly psychopathic managers and executives can create havoc on a somewhat limited level by, say, creating dissension in a sales department but also on a much larger scale, where an instinct toward self-centered manipulation and lack of integrity can bring down an entire corporation, causing financial and emotional damage to thousands or tens of thousands (think Enron).
In 2005, two psychologists at the University of Surrey, England, published their research comparing the personality profiles of high-level British executives (“senior business managers”) with randomly selected psychiatric patients and criminal psychiatric patients at Broadmoor Special Hospital, a high-security hospital in the United Kingdom and home to some of Britain’s most notorious criminals. The psychologists administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory scales for DSM-III Personality Disorders (MMPI-PD), a true/false self-report inventory in which the respondent is asked to consider statements reflecting eleven different personality disorders: histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, borderline, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, passive-aggressive, paranoid, schizotypal, schizoid, and avoidant.
The psychologists were particularly interested in measuring these traits in senior business managers because of previous work suggesting some psychopaths operate in mainstream society and because of the links made between elements of these almost psychopaths and character traits associated with success in business. Noting that the evidence of almost psychopaths is growing (the psychologists in this study used the term successful psychopaths), they also highlighted research indicating that the emotion factor is higher than the deviant lifestyle/antisocial factor in successful psychopaths. In other words, almost (successful) psychopaths who flourish in the business world are proficient manipulators and influencers who are less prone to overt rule and law breaking than true psychopaths. More specifically, almost psychopaths seem to have particular proficiency for seeking out and developing relationships with people of high authority and influencing them.
- Is the Psychopathic Brain Hardwired to Harm? (sott.net)
- The mind of a psychopath: Scientists explore brain abnormalities (canada.com)
- Please visit our main site! (psychopathawareness.wordpress.com)
- Childhood psychopathy may lead to corporate success (metronews.ca)
- Book review: The Psychopath Test (seejy.wordpress.com)
It can be a delusional symptom of psychotic disorders
Alvin F Poussaint, Professor of psychiatry1
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The American Psychiatric Association has never officially recognized extreme racism (as opposed to ordinary prejudice) as a mental health problem, although the issue was raised more than 30 years ago. After several racist killings in the civil rights era, a group of black psychiatrists sought to have extreme bigotry classified as a mental disorder. The association’s officials rejected the recommendation, arguing that because so many Americans are racist, even extreme racism in this country is normative—a cultural problem rather than an indication of psychopathology.
The psychiatric profession’s primary index for diagnosing psychiatric symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), does not include racism, prejudice, or bigotry in its text or index.1 Therefore, there is currently no support for including extreme racism under any diagnostic category. This leads psychiatrists to think that it cannot and should not be treated in their patients.
To continue perceiving extreme racism as normative and not pathologic is to lend it legitimacy. Clearly, anyone who scapegoats a whole group of people and seeks to eliminate them to resolve his or her internal conflicts meets criteria for a delusional disorder, a major psychiatric illness.
Extreme racists’ violence should be considered in the context of behavior described by Allport in The Nature of Prejudice.2 Allport’s 5-point scale categorizes increasingly dangerous acts. It begins with verbal expression of antagonism, progresses to avoidance of members of disliked groups, then to active discrimination against them, to physical attack, and finally to extermination (lynchings, massacres, genocide). That fifth point on the scale, the acting out of extermination fantasies, is readily classifiable as delusional behavior.
More recently, Sullaway and Dunbar used a prejudice rating scale to assess and describe levels of prejudice.3 They found associations between highly prejudiced people and other indicators of psychopathology. The subtype at the extreme end of their scale is a paranoid/delusional prejudice disorder.
Using the DSM’s structure of diagnostic criteria for delusional disorder,4(p329) I suggest the following subtype:
Prejudice type: A delusion whose theme is that a group of individuals, who share a defining characteristic, in one’s environment have a particular and unusual significance. These delusions are usually of a negative or pejorative nature, but also may be grandiose in content. When these delusions are extreme, the person may act out by attempting to harm, and even murder, members of the despised group(s).
Extreme racist delusions can also occur as a major symptom in other psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Persons suffering delusions usually have serious social dysfunction that impairs their ability to work with others and maintain employment.
As a clinical psychiatrist, I have treated several patients who projected their own unacceptable behavior and fears onto ethnic minorities, scapegoating them for society’s problems. Their strong racist feelings, which were tied to fixed belief systems impervious to reality checks, were symptoms of serious mental dysfunction. When these patients became more aware of their own problems, they grew less paranoid—and less prejudiced.
It is time for the American Psychiatric Association to designate extreme racism as a mental health problem by recognizing it as a delusional psychotic symptom. Persons afflicted with such psychopathology represent an immediate danger to themselves and others. Clinicians need guidelines for recognizing delusional racism in all its forms so that they can provide appropriate treatment. Otherwise, extreme delusional racists will continue to fall through the cracks of the mental health system, and we can expect more of them to explode and act out their deadly delusions.
Extreme racism indicates psychopathology
Competing interests: None declared
1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 2000.
2. Allport G. The Nature of Prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley; 1954.
3. Sullaway M, Dunbar E. Clinical manifestations of prejudice in psychotherapy: toward a strategy of assessment and treatment. Clin Psychol Sci Pract 1996;3: 296-309.
4. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic criteria for 297.1 delusional disorder. In: DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 2000.
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Revealing Sex Crimes Against Black Women
Before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, she had already been fighting for racial equality for more than a decade. She strategized with other activists, organized protests, and in 1948 gave an impassioned speech that led to her election as secretary of the Alabama conference of the NAACP. In that position, she investigated cases of sexual violence and other crimes against blacks, as she had done for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP.
Her role in defending the rights of black women is eloquently chronicled in the 2010 book, “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” by Danielle L. McGuire, a history professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
In her meticulously researched book, McGuire maintains that in order to fully understand the civil rights movement one must understand the history of sex crimes against black women and how these attacks were used as a weapon against the fight for racial equality. Being able to sit at a lunch counter or vote didn’t mean anything if black women couldn’t walk down the street or ride the bus unmolested.
As McGuire writes, “Between 1940 and 1975, sexual violence and interracial rape became one crucial battleground upon which African Americans sought to destroy white supremacy and gain personal and political autonomy. … If we understand the role rape and sexual violence played in African Americans’ daily lives and within the larger freedom struggle, we have to reinterpret, if not rewrite, the history of the civil rights movement.”
Louisiana’s incarceration rate is the highest in US and it get much worse. As Charles M. Blow details. New York Times: Plantations, Prisons and Profits.
“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.”
That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state’s largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it.
The picture that emerges is one of convicts as chattel and a legal system essentially based on human commodification.
First, some facts from the series:
• One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average.
• More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The next highest state is Kentucky at 33 percent. The national average is 5 percent.
• Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole.
• Louisiana spends less on local inmates than any other state.
• Nearly two-thirds of Louisiana’s prisoners are nonviolent offenders. The national average is less than half.
In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state incentivized the building of private prisons. But, in what the newspaper called “a uniquely Louisiana twist,” most of the prison entrepreneurs were actually rural sheriffs. They saw a way to make a profit and did.
It also was a chance to employ local people, especially failed farmers forced into bankruptcy court by a severe drop in the crop prices.
But in order for the local prisons to remain profitable, the beds, which one prison operator in the series distastefully refers to as “honey holes,” must remain full. That means that on almost a daily basis, local prison officials are on the phones bartering for prisoners with overcrowded jails in the big cities.
The eight part series from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans on this abomination. The Times-Picayune: LOUISIANA INCARCERATED.