A contingent of African Americans concerned about the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration marched this week on the Obama White House, demanding that attention be paid to the devastation taking place in “Dark Ghettos” across America. Dr. Ron Daniels, Rev. Jesse Jackson and others came together to speak on the issue of mass incarceration and the impact that it’s had on the black community.
Thus far, the Obama Administration has been relatively silent on the incarceration problem. Two years ago, the president pushed forward with the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the crack-to-powder disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. But some say that this is not enough. Darrell Padgett, a former inmate who studied law and wrote legal documents requesting his own release, says that many of his friends behind bars aren’t able to benefit from the Fair Sentencing Act, largely because the legal standards are too difficult for them to meet, or they can’t afford the representation necessary to secure their release.
Padgett also speaks candidly about the torture that he and other inmates regularly endure for doing things as simple as learning too much about the law. According to Padgett, when he began studying the law and working on his own case, his legal books went missing and he was sent to solitary confinement.
In the middle of the night, I was awaken by a gang of prison guards. The guards instructed me to get dressed and to back out of the prison cell with my hands behind my back. Immediately, I knew this was a “set-up.” So I inquired. I was informed that I was being placed in solitary confinement because the investigative services of the prison had information that I was planning to murder a prison guard. With allegations of such magnitude, I realized that I could be hidden in solitary confinement for years.
That possibility became real to me after I was placed in a prison cell where a prisoner had been strapped to a concrete slab in the same way that it is alleged that Jesus was nailed to a cross.
America incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. African Americans are disproportionately impacted by the disparity. Incarceration is linked to juvenile delinquency of the children of inmates, the spread of disease, poverty, urban violence and a whole host of issues. The coalition is seeking to confront the matter directly and are asking that President Obama lead the way.