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“Where Anger And Fear Have Brought Us”: Children Are Children, No Matter Their Race Or Ethnicity

Darren Wilson made if very plain in his testimony before the grand jury that he was afraid of Michael Brown. As a matter of fact, his entire case is based on whether or not people believe that to be true. We also know that the officers who shot and killed 12 year-old Tamir Rice assumed that he was about 20 years old.

This is all part of a pattern that was recently the subject of research published by the American Psychological Association.

Black boys as young as 10 may not be viewed in the same light of childhood innocence as their white peers, but are instead more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime, according to new research.

Beyond the Michael Brown’s and Tamir Rice’s, those assumptions also lead to this:

Fourteen states have no minimum age for trying children as adults. Children as young as eight have been prosecuted as adults. Some states set the minimum age at 10, 12, or 13…

Some 10,000 children are housed in adult jails and prisons on any given day in America. Children are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities and face increased risk of suicide.

Whether they are being shot on the street, tried as adults, or locked up in adult prisons, Jonathan Capehart is right.

In America, black children are just that, children. It’s a damned shame people’s fears and prejudices blinds them to that fact. It’s a crying shame black kids must suffer because of it.

A lot of people are thinking that the one area where bipartisanship is possible in the next Congress is on criminal justice reform. But anything meaningful in that arena has to include the premise that children are children – no matter their race or ethnicity. A system that fails to treat them as such can never call itself “just.”

Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, brings it all together when he says that these kinds of policies are the result of “a political vision that is fueled by fear and sustained by anger.” He echoes President Obama in suggesting that we have to find a “voice of hopefulness to turn these things around.”

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 6, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Police Shootings, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Vulnerable And Voiceless”: Forced Sterilization Is Still Happening, Is Still Repugnant

As Christina Cordero remembers it, the doctor would not take no for an answer.

“As soon as he found out that I had five kids, he suggested that I look into getting it done. The closer I got to my due date, the more he talked about it. He made me feel like a bad mother if I didn’t do it.”

The “it” is tubal ligation. He wanted to sterilize her.

Cordero, who is now 34, was serving time for auto theft at a California prison. She finally said yes, a decision she regrets seven years later. “I wish I would have never had it done.”

We are indebted to the Center for Investigative Reporting, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated content provider, for the preceding account. It is contained in a troubling report, released last week, documenting that the California prison system sterilized as many as 250 women from 1997 to 2010, in violation of state rules. Women who had the procedure say they were pressured to do so.

The state reportedly paid doctors $147,460 for this service. Dr. James Heinrich, who operated on Cordero, says it’s a bargain. “Over a 10-year period,” he told CIR, “that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children — as they procreated more.”

Maybe you think that makes perfect sense. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine someone saying the same thing on Fox “News” next week. After all, character assassination of the less fortunate has become commonplace. A certain wealthy presidential candidate famously described them as the 47 percent of us who are irredeemable.

But maybe you know enough of history to hear the awful parallel embedded in Heinrich’s calculation. You see, this is not the first time Americans have had the bright idea of breeding out undesirables. Indeed, laws mandating forced sterilization were all the rage in America in the early 20th century. Even the Nazis were impressed. They modeled their statutes on ours.

The idea was to keep the nation’s gene pool from being polluted — and its economy burdened — by the “feeble-minded,” the habitually criminal and by families that produced generations of prostitution, promiscuity, alcoholism, poverty or disability. Some sought to do this through immigration restrictions designed to bar the racially inferior, others argued for killing mentally and physically defective children and still others favored forced sterilization.

The Supreme Court sanctioned the latter in a 1927 ruling against Carrie Buck. She was a “feeble-minded” 17-year-old daughter of a “feeble-minded” mother and an unwed mother herself. The court never met her. It relied on the testimony of an “expert,” Dr. Harry Hamilton Laughlin, who himself never met her.

Buck was, in fact, a Virginia girl of normal intelligence who had been raped. But Laughlin, after reviewing test results, claimed that she was typical of the “shiftless, ignorant and worthless class of anti-social whites of the South.” The court approved her sterilization 8-1.

“It is better for the world,” wrote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. … Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” That ruling has never been overturned.

It is not such a prodigious leap from Holmes to Heinrich, who says women who claim he pressured them to be sterilized just “want to stay on the state’s dole.” Or to Michelle Malkin, who calls the poor “takers,” or Ann Coulter, who calls them “animals.” We have traveled far, only to wind up in this familiar place where the vulnerable and voiceless, the ones most deserving of our compassion, are regarded instead as inferiors and allowed to be victimized.

It is not happening again.

It is happening still.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, July 15, 2013

July 16, 2013 Posted by | Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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