Race And Achievement: Balancing The Debate

The iPhone has its origins in America's constitution. One person one vote is heady stuff. Nepal and America were at similar levels of socio-economic development when America was born. But America was born out of democratic revolution, Nepal was born out of feudal conquest. And what a difference revolution has made.

The big broad picture in America is there is so much that works. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, recently made news because he has started work on what is the 911 service in America. You call 911 and the voice on the other end says, "What's your emergency?" Uttar Pradesh does not have that. It wants it. America has it.

So talk of intersection of law enforcement and race in America has to be balanced out with the fact that police service exists. But that appreciation also should keep the hunger alive. A more perfect union is always the goal. There is always room for improvement. The entire country struggles with race, so it is no surprise that law enforcement does. They don't operate in a vacuum.

There was a point in time when humanity had not yet discovered the human blood circulation system. I feel like on race we are at a point where not enough theoretical work has been done to give the right framework to the debates. Diversity is natural, almost like biology. As that appreciation seeps deeper among peoples, that will help.

On Racism and White Privilege

I am eager to see President Obama's criminal justice reform take shape. I am looking forward to it. I believe it will be quite a milestone.

President Obama: "Our Criminal Justice System Isn't as Smart as It Should Be"
A growing body of research shows that people of color are more likely to be stopped, frisked, questioned, charged, detained. African Americans are more likely to be arrested. They are more likely to be sentenced to more time for the same crime. And one of the consequences of this is, around one million fathers are behind bars. Around one in nine African American kids has a parent in prison. ...... Our nation is being robbed of men and women who could be workers and taxpayers, could be more actively involved in their children’s lives, could be role models, could be community leaders,

and right now they’re locked up for a non-violent offense

. ....... Last year, in fact, America's crime rate and incarceration rate both went down at the same time, for the first time in 40 years. ..... the three key areas in which we need to focus on reform: the community, the courtroom, and the cell block. ......

"The best time to stop [crime] is before it even starts," President Obama said, reiterating the need to invest in America's children. "If we make investments early in our children, we will reduce the need to incarcerate those kids."

....... One study shows that for every dollar that we invest in preschool, we save at least twice that over the long run in crime reduction. And summer jobs for teenagers are only a fraction of the cost of incarceration down the road. ......

strengthen community-police relationships across the country

...... we need to shorten the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, or eliminate them entirely....... We need to ask prosecutors to use their discretion to seek the best punishment, the one that's going to be most effective, instead of just the longest punishment. We should invest in alternatives to prison, like drug courts and treatment and probation programs -- which ultimately can save taxpayers thousands of dollars per defendant each year. ....... offering more job training for inmates. ..... if somebody in the midst of imprisonment recognizes the error of their ways, is in the process of reflecting about where they’ve been and where they should be going, we’ve got to make sure that they’re in a position to make the turn ....... the overuse of solitary confinement in our prisons, which is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, hostile, and violent. ...... It's unfair to put the entire burden on our police officers, our courtroom prosecutors, our judges, and our prison guards -- we have to invest in our communities, and we have to invest in expanding opportunity for all. ..... "Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it is the presence of opportunity. Justice is giving every child a shot at a great education no matter what zip code they’re born into. Justice is giving everyone willing to work hard the chance at a good job with good wages, no matter what their name is, what their skin color is, where they live."
Remarks by the President on Criminal Justice Reform
Over the course of this year, I’ve been talking to people all across the country about reforming our criminal justice system to be fairer, to be smarter, to be more effective. I’ve met with police chiefs and beat cops. I've met with prisoners, corrections officers. I've met with families of fallen police officers and families of children who were killed by gun violence. I've met with men and women battling drug abuse, and rehab coaches, and folks working on new solutions for treatment. ......

I have, at times, despaired about the magnitude of the problem.

...... disrupting the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. ...... We account for 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of its inmates. They are disproportionately black and Latino. ...... almost all these individuals will eventually be released. More than 600,000 inmates are released each year. Around 70 million Americans have some sort of criminal record ...... the federal government is a big employer, as you know, and like a lot of big employers, on many job applications there’s a box that asks if you have a criminal record. If you answer yes, then a lot of times you’re not getting a call back. ...... a bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for non-violent offenders. It would invest in law enforcement. It would reward prisoners with time off if they complete programs that make it less likely that they will commit crimes in the future. .......

this is an area where we’ve seen some really strong bipartisan work

Obama Calls for Sweeping Criminal Justice Reforms in NAACP Speech
Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and barring employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history ...... Any system that allows us to turn a blind-eye to hopelessness and despair, that’s not a justice system,

that’s an injustice system

..... “Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it’s the presence of opportunity.” ..... the “strange bedfellows” that efforts to reform the criminal justice system have created, among them the Koch brothers and the NAACP. ...... the first sitting U.S. president to visit a federal prison
President Obama for the prisoners
the state of criminal justice in America. It is an aspect of American life that remains, in his words, “a source of inequity that has ripple effects on families and on communities and ultimately on our nation.” ...... disturbing statistics about the country’s incarceration rate, which is the highest in the world and riddled with racial discrepancies ..... sentencing reforms that would increase the discretion available to judges and prosecutors and either reduce or eliminate mandatory minimums. He called for changes to prisons that would reduce abuse, overcrowding and the use of solitary confinement, and increase job-training and drug-treatment programmes. He wants to restore voting rights to ex-felons and make it easier for ex-convicts to get jobs. He also proposed more investments in pre-school education, more humane community policing and more jobs for teenagers. .......

The $80 billion Mr Obama referred to is America’s annual corrections budget. That chunk of change might instead be used to fund universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old, he opined, or to build bridges or double the salary of every high-school teacher. It could even be used, he said, to eliminate tuition at every public college and university.

........ “we need to be honest: there are a lot of folks who belong in prison.” The majority of state prisoners (54%) are behind bars for violent felonies. .......... most of America’s imprisonment takes place at the state level. So the real work of reducing mass incarceration falls to governors, police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, state legislators and activists around the country. The real challenge for them, then, is to convince voters of the benefits of reducing mass incarceration.
Obama pushes for ‘smarter, fairer’ criminal justice reforms
There have also been calls for reforms to policing policies around the country, particularly in minority communities, in large part because of the Black Lives Matter movement’s response to the killing of several unarmed black men and women by police officers.

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