Racial Disparity

JS Blog Post July 15, 2014

FREE HER Rally

Patricia Allard

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, the Families for Justice as Healing (http://justiceashealing.org) held a historic gathering, FREE HER Rally, on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The FREE HER rally and campaign was organized by women and others who support the ending of mass incarceration. The goals of the Free Her Rally were to "(1) raise awareness of the increase in the rate of incarceration of women in the United States and the impact on our children and communities, (2) Demand an end to voter disenfranchisement for people with felony convictions and (3) to ask President Obama to commute the sentences of women and men in the federal system who have applied for commutation." (http://justiceashealing.org/free-her-...)

Andrea James, the force behind Families for Justice as Healing and the organizer extraordinaire behind the Free Her Rally, closed the rally with a powerful call to action, asking participants to keep advocating for sentencing reform for parents who have minor children on the outside. Watch James' call to action.

JS Blog Post May 20, 2014

Twenty Years After: Forgiveness

Tina Reynolds

To all of my fellow GEMS, this submission is for you.  Being a “good enough mom” (GEM) takes the pressures off of having to get everything right.  When I came home from prison, I was on a quest to gain some semblance of “normalcy” – find a job and make a home for me and my children. To accomplish this, I didn’t search within myself. I sought external activities; I became involved with various groups, community organizations, churches and colleges.

While on my “normalcy” quest, I became friends with a wonderful woman, Mildred. She got to know me quickly and could see that I struggled with trusting others, feeling safe and maintaining a sense of hope.  Mildred wisely told me that these characteristics did not come from my experience in prison, but rather they are deeply rooted in my past life experiences. Therefore, on my quest for “normalcy” after prison, along with my involvement in advocacy efforts, I began to unearth, understand and heal from my childhood trauma. Read more »

JS Publication March 28, 2011

Numbers Game: The Vicious Cycle of Incarceration in Mississippi's Criminal Justice System

On March 28, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi in collaboration with Justice Strategies released NUMBERS GAME: The Vicious Cycle of Incarceration in Mississippi’s Criminal Justice System. Read more »

JS Publication September 10, 2009

Strategies for Engaging Suburban and Rural Communities in New Jersey

This memo is designed to assist the New Jersey Second Chance coalition in their efforts to educate legislators that represent rural and suburban towns about areas of common ground they share with urban communities seeking criminal justice reform. Serving as a best practices document rooted in experiences pushing for criminal justice reforms in Connecticut, strategies from this memo are designed to help New Jersey advocates engage non-traditional allies in rural and suburban New Jersey on the need to reform New Jersey’s criminal justice system.

News Article The Stamford Advocate March 25, 2006

Supporters Urge Change to Laws on Drug-free School Zones (CT)

HARTFORD -- Calling current law racist, activists yesterday pushed for a bill that would shrink the size of zones around schools, day-care centers and public housing that carry stiffer penalties for drug offenses.

The bill would reduce the current 1,500 foot "drug free" radius around those facilities to 200 feet, within which additional mandatory three-year sentences are tacked on to drug offenses, including possession, sale and intent to sell drugs. Read more »

News Article The Press of Atlantic City March 24, 2006

Study Concludes Drug-free Zones Not Protecting Children (NJ)

Drug-free zones not only don't protect children, but instead have put a disproportionate number of minorities in jail, according to experts who have been studying the policy.

A national study — spawned by a New Jersey commission's findings — was released Thursday. In it, the Justice Policy Institute found that the zones are too large and therefore do not deter drug sales within school zones and other protected areas. Read more »

JS Publication March 23, 2006

Disparity by Design: How drug-free zone laws impact racial disparity – and fail to protect youth

A new report coauthored by Justice Strategies analysts Judy Greene and Kevin Pranis, and Jason Ziedenberg of The Justice Policy Institute, finds that drug-free zone laws have no deterrent effect on drug sales near schools but instead fuel racial disparity in imprisonment. Read more »

News Article

New Jersey drug-free zone laws produce "devastating" disparity, no deterrence

New Jersey's drug-free zone laws have no deterrent effect on drug sales near schools but instead fuel racial disparity in imprisonment according to New Jersey's Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing and a new report coauthored by policy analysts with Justice Strategies and Justice Policy Institute. Since the state's "school-zone" law took effect, the proportion of blacks admitted to prison for drug convictions has risen four times faster than the proportion of whites. Read more »

News Article

Connecticut drug-free zone laws blanket minority neighborhoods but fail to deter drug activity

Connecticut ranks at the top in the nation in the degree of disparity between the rates of incarceration for whites and blacks. The state’s drug-free zone laws contribute to that disparity by blanketing densely populated urban neighborhoods with prohibited zones. Yet new research shows that the laws do nothing to protect in youth from drug activity Read more »

News Article

Massachusetts drug-free zone law ineffective, not evenly enforced

In Massachusetts, where 80 percent of those sentenced with the drug-free enhancement are ethnic and racial minorities, two different research efforts have determined that the laws are not working as intended. Researchers affiliated with the Boston University School of Public Health found that decisions by police and prosecutors to invoke the statute had little or nothing to do with keeping drugs away from schoolchildren. A research team at Northeastern University School of Law found disturbing patterns of racial disparity in arrests and charging practices. Read more »

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