African American Incarceration

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In the US, incarceration rates disproportionately affect men of color. 1 in 3 black men will go to prison sometime in their life. For every 15 African American men, 1 is imprisoned, while only 1 in every 106 white men is incarcerated.
With the 13th amendment to the Constitution, slavery was abolished, but with one condition. The amendment states that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude will exist any longer EXCEPT as a punishment for crime. If the source of the South’s incredibly profitable free-labor based economy was demolished with the enacting of this amendment, then something had to come its place, right? Right. The mass incarceration of African Americans.
Black people were arrested for the pettiest of reasons, like being homeless,
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I’m talking about this one, who had been a part of my life as long as I could remember, until one day he wasn’t. On October 1 of 2013, my Uncle Mike was taken to jail for an encounter with police over 10 years prior for the possession of drugs. So, yes, he did commit a crime, but that isn’t the whole story. I 'm not telling you this in some vain attempt to excuse his actions or portray him solely as a victim, because he did, in fact, always have a choice, but I hope by hearing this all of you will understand the direct impact that the marginalization, mass incarceration, and criminalization of African American men have not only on society, but on all African Americans on a very personal level. When my uncle was sent to jail, he left behind his wife, who would then have to essentially take care of two "kids," one being their 5 year old daughter, the other being my uncle. He had to leave behind his quickly-aging mother, who he had also lived with and saw on a daily basis. He had to leave behind his nephews, to whom he was the father figure that he had lost during his own childhood. Along with his job, hobbies, etc., my uncle Mike had to give up a few more intangible things. Like his health. His privacy. His integrity. His basic human rights as a citizen of the United States. Once a black man is sent to jail for a low-level, nonviolent crime, such as drug possession, the system is set up so that it is easier to retire back into one’s so-called criminal ways. There are even unjust laws aimed specifically towards blacks, such as the punishment for crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine. Though these are identical offenses, there is an immense sentencing disparity for coke, the “rich man’s drug” and crack, the cheaper form, typically used and sold by poor blacks. Upon being arrested, many take plea bargains because they cannot

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