Ask, and it will be given to you;
Seek, and you will find;
Knock, and it will be opened to you.
~ Matthew 7:7
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A rough draft of Seven Magazine.
The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 1,852 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.
Despite only making up about 5 percent of the global population, the United States has nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 700% – far outpacing population growth and crime.
One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys—compared to one of every 17 White boys. At the same time, women are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the United States.
There are twice as many people sitting in local jails awaiting trial and presumed innocent than in the entire federal prison system. And each year, 650,000 men and women nationwide return from prison to their communities. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state, and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society. According to Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow:
If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste – a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. 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 — much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.
In 1991, I also wrote about mass incarceration in my book, Putting It All Together.
In addition, I wrote about COINTELPRO and the assassination of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP). COINTELPRO (Portmanteau derived from COunter INTELligence PROgram) (1956–1971) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations. In Putting It All Together
, I included a copy of the COINTELPRO FBI memo below.
Prevent the rise of a “messiah” who could unity and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement.