LORD, MY CHILD IS GOING TO DIE BEHIND BARS!
How many countries, apart from the United States, sentence children and teenagers to life in prison for crimes they committed as minors? Your correct answer should be “none” or “zero”. As Don King often said, “Only in America!” Nearly five years ago, I read Prison Profiteers by Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, which further opened my eyes regarding the misnomer of “criminal justice” in the United States. Not only is justice not blind; it does not even exist whenever you privatize prisons, mental hospitals, orphanages, or juvenile correctional facilities. Akin to Plato’s Utopia, is “justice” merely an apparition of an idealized world? Explain. One of the obvious incentives for mass incarceration of both children and adults is that private prisons have become an ineffably profitable industry. To my chagrin, the former president of a prestigious HBCU was on the board of directors of one such company that profiteers from mass incarceration of minorities. What’s wrong with that picture? IF the accumulation of wealth is the measure of one’s success, then nothing is wrong. IF the love of money is inextricable from life, liberty, and the pursuit of personal happiness, then nothing is wrong. Welcome to the real world of greedy capitalism at its worst. Would society benefit more IF the CEO converted a private prison into a “homeless shelter” that mandated each “inmate” worked eight hours a day, studied the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or the Tripitaka one hour a day, and matriculated four hours a day until he or she earned a college degree or alternative certification requisite for “work release” back into society? In conjunction with other holistic, court appointed requirements for restitution and rehabilitation, is it possible, probable, plausible, or preposterous to think such a model of jurisprudence could work? Explain.
It’s undeniable that an overwhelming majority of those children and teenagers who are incarcerated for life are African American. However, IF African Americans genuinely are incensed by this injustice, then shouldn’t we consider how to mitigate this madness of the New Jim Crow? Stated differently, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Perhaps, one reason I am a perpetual persona non grata within my Village is that I relentlessly remind us of the extent to which we are culpable for being marginalized, maligned, molested, and murdered by the Criminal Justice System. Notwithstanding the reality of being victims of police brutality and racism, VICE’s mantra, “WE can’t fix it IF we can’t face it,” is as applicable to this problem as it is to incest and child molestation. Yet, whenever I challenge ex-prisoners, executive directors, parents, pastors, professors, and Village Elders, etc., to inculcate a concrete list of holistic behaviors [see VICE’s blog “God’s Gym: Workout # 1“], the silence is deafening as we run to the rocks to hide our face. As a nation, the same generalization could describe White Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other identity groups. Collectively, WE the People of the United States have turned our backs on Godly principles. As long as we continue being politically correct, we will continue being “cursed” or separated from God’s sublime provision and protection. “Why are private prisons so profitable?” The root of it all lies in human nature itself. Ergo, the paradigm of private prisons, albeit unjust, will continue to provide
a good …. an excellent return on investment! IF the deck already is stacked against any identity group, then should the comportment of that identity group be irreproachable in every respect? I rest my case.
Lift E’vry Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou, who hast brought us thus far on our way.
Thou, who hast by Thy might led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places our GOD where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world we forget Thee…