« SCOTUS denies review for Eighth Amendment challenge to 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for possessing shotgun shells | Main | "What rights do felons have over their surrendered firearms?" »

February 23, 2015

Oscar speech by John Legend spotlights the New Jim Crow stat about hyperincarceration of blacks in US

I watched most of last night's Oscar festivities while trying to get some work done and with most of it with a finger on the fast-forward button on the remote control.  I did so, in part, because we can always count on the media (both old and new) to give extra attention to anything especially interesting or noteworthy that happens during the telecast.  

I am now pleased to learn that one of the interesting and noteworthy Oscar moments getting attention today is a portion of John Legend's acceptance speech.  This Washington Post WonkBlog piece, headlined "There’s a disturbing truth to John Legend’s Oscar statement about prisons and slavery," provides the story and its context:

The artists John Legend and Common received an Academy Award Sunday night for "Glory," their song in the film "Selma."  In his acceptance speech, Legend called for reform of the U.S. criminal justice system. "There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850," he noted.

It's true.  There are some, as Politifact has written, 1.7 million black men under some form of correctional control, including probation and parole, excluding those held in local jails on any given day. That is about twice the 870,000 or so black men at least 15 years old who were enslaved in 1850, according to the Census.

In some ways, of course, the comparison is misleading. Although there are more blacks under correctional control now than there were slaves before the Civil War, the population has a whole has grown tremendously in that time. The Census that year found that roughly nine in 10 of the nation's 3.6 million blacks were enslaved. By contrast, one in 11 blacks is under correctional supervision today, according to the Pew Center on the States. And it would be wrong to obscure the horrors of slavery by comparing that peculiar institution to today's systems of probation and parole (although in modern prisons, practices such as solitary confinement are indeed profoundly damaging to inmates).

In other ways, though, these numbers conceal the size of our criminal justice system and its consequences, especially for blacks -- in a society that, unlike that of the 1850s, is supposed to be free and equitable.

February 23, 2015 at 04:13 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201b8d0dc5024970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Oscar speech by John Legend spotlights the New Jim Crow stat about hyperincarceration of blacks in US :

Comments

He did not say that there are more black men born into bastardy today than in the days of slavery, that being the most powerful factor explaining all racial disparities in social pathologies.

He did not say, the black family survived the horrendous conditions of the past, but could not prevail against the all out assault by the vile feminist lawyer.

He did not say, that black crime victims do not get enough police protection, do not have their victimizsers prosecuted, and when they are, they get lighter sentences because the victim is black, including a less likely death penalty.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 24, 2015 4:34:44 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB