#IVITEB – I’m voting in this election because…

#3 – The USA desperately needs reform in policing, criminal justice and incarceration laws, regulations and practices.

I’m voting in this election because… our citizens desperately need reform in policing, criminal justice and incarceration.

Technically, all three come under the umbrella of “criminal justice” as law enforcement, the courts and corrections, but I’m separating them and using criminal justice more specifically for court proceedings, application of law and representation of defendants. 

Regardless, the scales of justice and injustice have all too often been in the hands of white people.

Policing

The terms policing and law enforcement suggest being watchful and smacking down anyone who steps out of line. That’s what it is in the United States of America, and for centuries, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) haven’t even had to step outside the lines to be stopped, harassed and even murdered by police officers.

There were thousands of Breonna Taylors and George Floyds before anyone knew or chanted their names. And the injustices they endured in their deaths have continued to mount up. Not one of the officers involved in Taylor’s death was charged with a felony. The officer who choked Floyd to death is out on bail.

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), “…somewhere between 900 and 1,100 people are shot and killed by police in the United States each year,” and, “Despite the fact that more white people have been killed by police, Black and Hispanic people are disproportionately impacted.”

Sadly, portions of our population are just beginning to discover how racially motivated many law enforcement officers truly are, and others don’t believe it even in the face of these types of facts.

“Criminal Justice”

Many people also are just starting to grasp how unfairly the criminal justice system is, and how obviously it’s rigged against anyone who is not white and financially well off. 

Again, according to statistics compiled by the NAACP, “One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared to 1 out (of) 6 Latino boys; one out of 17 white boys.”

For BIPOC, we might as well call the system what it actually is – Criminal Injustice. Or perhaps more accurately, The No Justice System.

Photo of walkway between rows of prison cells - criminal justice post

Incarceration

Finally, incarceration. They call it “corrections,” but that’s a joke, too. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the focus is on “lock them up,” punish rather than rehabilitate

And again, this applies unequally to BIPOC. 

“More than one out of every six Black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life. Incarceration and early deaths are the main drivers behind their absence.”

The system also makes sure they can’t get a good restart once they’ve served their time. In fact, legal restrictions against people with records for jobs, housing and education make it likely they’ll return to prison.

We Need to Change. Quickly.

There are hundreds of statistics supporting each of these points, just as there are hundreds of additional points that really should be mentioned. But the most important is this: 

Our system is badly broken, and we need to fix it.

Right now, there is no “we” unless Joe Biden and Kamala Harris become our president and vice president. 

Biden has taken a beating in this arena as one of the architects of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and in many ways the criticism has been warranted. He’s admitted the mistakes. Harris, too, has been criticized

But here’s the cold, hard fact:

Black, indigenous and other people of color will suffer even more with racist, white-supremacist-loving, more-of-the-same “law and order” bullshit slinger Donald Trump. Certainly no gains will be made.

Will Biden-Harris be able to fix everything that’s been wrong for decades if not centuries? No. But they’ll get started, especially if we vote blue down ballot to give them the political support they’ll need. 

That’s a much better place than where we are right now.

If you want steps forward rather than a multitude of steps back, do what I already did:

#VoteBidenHarris | #VoteBlueDownBallot

* Be sure to read the other posts in the #IVITEB series on IV Words. Despite the numbering system, they are not in any particular order.

#1 – The Climate Crisis

#2 – Women’s Rights

#4 – I Am a Progressive

#5 – Guns Are Killing U.S.

More to come…

Green outlined graphic indicating copyright 2019 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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