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Post  Yoke on Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:43 am

Dear Friend,

When it comes to issues plaguing Black and low-income communities, a
White senator from the South is the last person we'd expect to go out
on a limb and sound the alarm. Senator Jim Webb from Virginia just did
exactly that when he boldly called out the over-imprisonment of Black
folks and the serious problems with our prison system. Most
importantly, he's demanding big changes.[1]

Now it's up to us to seize the moment and create the pressure
necessary to achieve true reform.

I've joined in publicly thanking Senator Webb. Our
praise will show other politicians that when they take risks and step
out on critical issues like prison reform, we will have their backs.
It will also show that everyday people stand with Webb and are serious
about this issue. Can you join me? It only takes a moment. And then
please ask your friends and family to do the same:

In recent years, politicians have lacked the courage to create
meaningful prison reform. They've been paralyzed by the fear of being
branded as "soft on crime." They've been held hostage by prison guard
unions and industry lobbies. And the communities most affected--Black
and low-income communities--have had a hard time getting a seat at the
table and making our voices heard.

Our country has a clear problem. With just 5% of the world's
population, America holds nearly 25% of the world's reported prison
population. Our prison population has quadrupled since 1984, and most
of the increase comes from people being imprisoned for drug
offenses--mostly minor and nonviolent.[2]

Despite the fact that there is no statistical difference in drug use
between different racial groups, harsh drug laws have had a
devastating, disproportionate effect on Black communities. While only
12% of the U.S. population is African-American, Black people make up
37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74%
of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.[3]

It's surprising and encouraging that someone like Senator Webb is
speaking out in this way. Webb is a White politician from Virginia, a
Southern "law-and-order" state that has abolished parole and executed
more people than any state besides Texas.[4] He has nothing to gain
politically from this--it's an act of true conviction.

By eloquently making the case for reform and calling for a National
Criminal Justice Commission, Webb has created a major opening to
address these issues. And it comes at a time when there are increasing
signs the country is ready for reform. New York's governor and state
legislature just struck a deal to reform the state's "Rockefeller drug
laws"--some of the harshest laws in the country, and a great example
of the failed status quo.[5] A panel of federal judges has just told
California it must reduce its prison population by a third to
alleviate the torturous conditions stemming from overcrowding.[6] And
at the same time that more people are recognizing the deep injustices
in our system, the economic crisis is forcing elected officials at all
levels of government to realize they can't afford to keep directing so
many taxpayer dollars toward law enforcement, jails, and prisons.[7]

We need to make the most of this moment. Please join me in thanking
Senator Jim Webb for his courageous stand and support his call for a
meaningful commission. And when you do, please ask your friends and
family to do the same.



3. See reference 2

Posts : 155
Join date : 2009-04-04
Location : netherlands

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