Submitted by Tricia Perry on Fri, 12/07/2007 - 12:23pm
- The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has posted a New York Times article stating that nearly "one in every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or
on supervised release at the end of last year." The article continues with the findings of a new Department of Justice report:
An estimated 2.38 million people were incarcerated in state and federal
facilities, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2005, while a record 5
million people were on parole or probation, an increase of 1.8 percent.
Immigration detention facilities had the greatest growth rate last
year. The number of people held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement
detention facilities grew 43 percent, to 14,482 from 10,104.
The data reflect deep racial disparities in the nation’s correctional
institutions, with a record 905,600 African-American inmates in prisons
and state and local jails. In several states, incarceration rates for
blacks were more than 10 times the rate of whites. In Iowa, for
example, blacks were imprisoned at 13.6 times the rate of whites,
according to an analysis of the data by the Sentencing Project, a
research and advocacy group.
These statistics of mass incarceration and racial disparities highlight the fact that our government policies are failing to offer a second chance to citizens and immigrants alike. Instead of spending millions of dollars to confine millions of people, we should invest in their personal development. In human
rights law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights provides that “the penitentiary system shall comprise
treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their
reformation and social rehabilitation” -- and the United States has pledged to uphold the values in this United Nations treaty.
- Over at The Huffington Post, Mike Garibaldi Frick has posted an interview with street artist and free speech activist Robert Lederman. Lederman "was arrested over 40 times by the Rudy Giuliani administration for
exercising his free speech and sued the city of New York to strike down
permit requirements for artists in public spaces." The post discusses the way government restrictions on public spaces interfere with our constitutional rights -- and human rights -- to self-expression, a cornerstone of our democracy.
Though American democracy promotes "freedom of expression," regular
citizens are effectively blocked from creative and free speech public
space uses unless they have considerable financial or political
Opposition groups, nascent movements, students, artists and all
citizens need safe, free public space in which to communicate and
develop. Planned events, spontaneous gatherings and ongoing meeting
places that are autonomous from entrenched government and corporate
interests are vital to a free public speech. The health and well-being
of a true democracy requires free access to open public forums.
The post also includes a YouTube video of the interview with Lederman:
- MigraMatters has done a series of posts on the framing of the immigration debate. In "Illegal" is Never a Noun, blogger Duke1676 features a piece by Eric Haas of The Rockridge Institute called Losing Our Minds Over Immigration as well as an opinion by Roberto Lovato of New America Media entitled Anti-Immigrant Rage Dehumanizes the Undocumented.
- Most recently, Migra Matters posted The Democrats' New Immigration Strategy...Sort Of. Duke1676 makes a valid point about the uselessness of criticizing the Republican stance without offering another vision of immigration reform:
The Democratic Party finally released what appears to be their official strategy/talking points intended to counter the Republican immigration wedge.
The strategy in essence revolves around a few key concepts:
- The Republicans are using the immigration issue for political gain
The Republicans had plenty of time to fix immigration and didn't
The Republicans have been unable to secure the border
The Republicans are using fear and bigotry to scapegoat immigrants
The scapegoating isn't working
Of course there's one glaring omission in this strategy …. there isn't any sort of a alternative plan proposed.
is there a word about what in fact the Democrats are going to do about
immigration. Not even the usual vague call for "comprehensive reform
that secures our border while providing a path to citizenship to
undocumented immigrants." And you can just forget about specifics.
In the absence of this vision, Migra Matters proposes its own strategies:
There have to be other, more complex, and comprehensive ways of controlling immigration:
- Things like adjusting free trade agreements so they don't foster poverty in sender nations.
like working with foreign governments in sender nations to ensure that
they not only respect human rights, but worker rights and economic
- Things like examining and reforming our
immigration codes to make them more practical, fair, and reflective of
- Things like fixing our immigration
bureaucracy so it can efficiently and humanely process the flow of
immigrants in a timely and effective manner.