Monday, October 5, 2015

Today in Not Helping

It's amazing how in the U.S., we've apparently completely given up on the idea of rehabilitating anyone convicted of a crime. Unless they're rich, of course.

Literally, all we do is cram people in prisons, which are becoming increasingly privatized, which obviously creates incentive to create more criminals - the opposite of what we should want.

Then when they've served their time, we toss them out onto the street often with no transitional services. They can't get jobs, they can't get government assistance. People with a criminal record are not eligible for welfare. How are they supposed to live? They turn back to crime and end up right back in prison. Our recidivism rates are appalling.

Combine this with the fact that people of color are so often profiled and arrested for fucking nothing and then released, only to find that they've been charged with some bullshit like assaulting an officer or obstructing justice.

Now, how is this supposed to work?:

CMPD considers no-go areas for criminals.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Charlotte City Council are discussing whether to create “public safety zones,” city areas where people with past arrests would be prohibited from entering. 
Under the controversial proposal, Chief Kerr Putney could designate a high-crime area as a safety zone in response to crimes such as drug sales or discharging guns that were committed on public property. 
Someone who has been arrested for crimes in the area could be issued a notice that they are no longer allowed to enter, for as long as the safety zone is in effect. Entering the zone after being prohibited would be a misdemeanor.

Okay, firstly, how is this going to be enforced? Are people with arrest records going to be forced to wear a big red A, or would this perhaps encourage racial profiling??

And secondly, how is this even slightly helpful? This is going to be put in effect in high-crime areas? You know high-crime areas are areas where a lot of poor people live, right? And poor people are disproportionately arrested, partially because people of color are disproportionately affected by poverty and are also profiled by cops?

So you're going to designate an area in which "criminals" are not allowed to be, even though they fucking live there and probably work there or have kids that go to school there? Apparently people will get passes if they enter for the right reasons, but at that point you're just creating more reason for cops to harass poor people and people of color and inconveniencing them if they typically travel through the area for work or whatever.

The entire point of a criminal justice system is supposed to be rehabilitating people who commit crimes and getting them to a place wherein they don't feel the need to commit crimes anymore. Then when they've served their time, they're supposed to be forgiven. They've been punished, now they're supposed to be able to have a life. Instead, we find more and more ways to punish them for the rest of their lives, ensuring that any mistake they made makes it impossible for them to lead a normal life. And most of these people are black, Latinx, and/or Native American, poor, and non-violent drug offenders.

This country is constantly criminalizing people of color and poor people, and it's only going to get worse now that we're letting people profit off of it. We kick them out of their homes, we defund their schools, our cops harass them all the time, we tell them that they're no good, we keep them out of the decent jobs and refuse to raise the minimum wage, we criminalize them for living in their own homes, we make it so that no matter where they are or what they're doing, they're wrong. And then when they try and survive by turning to crime, we point at them and say "See? You are bad. Just like we said."

But they're not. People in prison and people with arrest records are not automatically bad people who are incapable of any kind of achievement, and it shouldn't take an inmate debate team beating a bunch of Harvard kids at debate for people to see that.

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