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Historical barriers that have prevented the equal treatment of minorities

A new chapter in this struggle has now emerged. How has the quest for equality and citizenship fared in this new era of mass incarceration?

Criminal justice policies developed in the U.

Policy makers must evaluate the racially disparate impact of these laws, and begin to develop new policies to counter the devastating effects of these policies on communities of color.

A Historical Perspective Law, in its many forms - Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, state law, and criminal codes - has played a critical role in defining the basic human principles of citizenship and equal opportunity in American. Unfortunately, for African-Americans and other people of color, the law has been at the undergirding of inequality in America. The first chapter of this history began with the oppressive colonial slave codes of the early eighteenth century and continued up to the American Revolution.

The revolution of our founding fathers presented an opportunity to fully embrace equality. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation and the civil rights amendments, racism and economic exploitation that were the foundation for slavery, remained intact.

The advent of the Black Codes, the convict lease system, and sharecropping shattered the dream of freedom and equality for African-Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth century. From 1876 through 1965 the shadow of Jim Crow spread across America. Replacing the social control of slavery, states began to systematically codify the separation of the races.

Government enacted sanctions combined with attitudes and actions that permitted acts of discrimination against African Americans. The law of the land ensured inequality.

By a series of legal maneuvers - and the extralegal practice of lynching - African American people were disenfranchised and stripped of any semblance of citizenship. The poll tax, the literacy test, and the Grandfather Clause were all legal devices employed to prevent access to political power and maintain inequality.

Through the middle of the twentieth century African American remained segregated, barred from full and free participation in American life and rendered politically powerless. This wall of separation was shaken by the civil rights movement and a shift in the law embodied in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. By the mid-1960s, the civil rights campaign had successfully abolished segregation in education, discrimination in public accommodations and employment, and eliminated many of the impediments to enfranchisement.

It appeared Jim Crow was on the run. For those who celebrated the elimination of the barriers to full participation in American society for African Americans, their optimism was short-lived.

  1. In this era of mass incarceration African Americans are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than whites.
  2. The revolution of our founding fathers presented an opportunity to fully embrace equality. How has the quest for equality and citizenship fared in this new era of mass incarceration?
  3. Advocate for full reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for people who are currently incarcerated so that they can participate in higher education while incarcerated. Work with legislators and college officials to eliminate application procedures that make it difficult for prospective students with criminal records to get admitted to college.
  4. Educate policymakers on the important role that voting rights play in reintegration. The economic realities of black and white households Trends in key economic and demographic indicators provide some context for the experiences and outlook of blacks today.

As Justice Thurgood Marshall warned in his speech at Howard Law School in 1978, we cannot become complacent about the strides toward equality made by the civil rights movement. Take if from me, it has not been solved. They are still laying traps for us.

Some policymakers used crime as a tool to advance a racial agenda without violating the newly created civil rights norms, and a justification for creating harsh and draconian laws that resulted in mass incarceration and racial disparities within the criminal justice system. The harsh criminal justice laws were combined with civil disabilities, which disqualified people from housing, jobs, and social services based on a criminal record alone. In 2007 there were more than 2.

If current trends continue, one in three African American men born today will be incarcerated during their lifetime. In this era of mass incarceration African Americans are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. For this disproportionately African American prison population the punishment neither starts nor ends at the prison gate. The collateral consequences of a conviction - laws and regulations that bar people from jobs, education, voting - continue long after the sentence has been served.

The architects of Jim Crow constructed barriers to enfranchisement, employment, education and equality in order to suppress the struggle for full citizenship for African Americans in America.

The effort to deny full citizenship has reemerged. These policies are the catalysts for a new age of segregation and the roadblock to participation in civic life. It is a new inequality with deep historical roots. Justice Thurgood Marshall must be looking down on America, shaking his head in dismay.

He sees an America where a criminal conviction has become the surrogate for race discrimination. The following are key national and state-level activities that would work to end the back door discrimination against people with criminal records. At The Federal Level: Encourage policymakers to fully fund the 2008 Second Chance Act and pass additional legislation that would eliminate certain bars and barriers facing people with criminal records and support community reintegration programs.

Support a Federal standard based on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on use of background checks for employment purposes when screening people for arrest and conviction records. Strengthen Federal programs that encourage employers to hire people with criminal records such as the Federal Bonding Program and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Advocate for full reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for people who are currently incarcerated so that they can participate in higher education while incarcerated. Support further reform of the Higher Education Act to eliminate the remaining provisions that bar people convicted of drug offenses from access to federal financial aid.

At the State Level: Encourage legislators to restore eligibility for the state and private education programs and financial aid that allow people in prison to participate in higher education. Work with legislators and college officials to eliminate application procedures that make it difficult for prospective students with criminal records to get admitted to college. Support effective programs that promote community reintegration and reentry.

Advocate for legislation that prohibits employers, housing authorities and other non-law enforcement agencies from inquiring about or using information about arrests that did not lead to conviction.

On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart

Advocate for legislation that lifts automatic bars to employment, occupational licenses, public housing, and political enfranchisement. Advocate for legislation that prohibits across-the-board employment bans based on arrest or conviction records and require employers to assess applicants individually on their merits.

Educate policymakers on the important role that voting rights play in reintegration.