Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘prison’

We spend too much money putting people in prison.  Of course, criminals must be punished but it would be better if the crimes never happened in the first place.  I am 47 years old and I have never made 47K per year but the national average cost of an inmate is $47,000 and as much as $60,000 in New York. 

The statistics from a CBS Sunday Morning news story are alarming: 1 in 3 Black men between the ages of 18 and 34 are in the system (jail, prison, probate or parole); 50% of released inmates return in three years. 

The old “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality sounds great for political candidates and officeholders but we are spending $63 Billion per year on incarceration.  Guys who ended behind bars, many for non-violent drug related offenses, often discover that education and faith are wonderful; I wish they learned that in junior high school or earlier.

I don’t have the answers: however, I have always felt that prison seems like the bondage of slavery but slaves didn’t have a choice, could still live with mates and could go outside (the good Lord knows that I would go crazy if I couldn’t go outside when I wanted.)  The possible answers include mentor programs for youth, men being real fathers and reducing drug usage.  With constant cries for reducing governmental spending, addressing the prison situation is a must.

Read Full Post »

Is hip hop taking us backwards?  I loved this art form in my youth but it seems (correct me if I am wrong) that young people are emulating the worst elements of society.  Slaves wanted freedom and that freedom didn’t really come until the 1970s. 

At church Sunday, the pastor, a veteran of the struggle, started his sermon by saying that freedom doesn’t give you the right to do just anything. We are still ticked that someone broke the windows at church. Did he really refer to the culprits as “devils” in a prayer the morning we discovered the vandalism.  Yeap..I like the pastor…he has teeth. 

My definition of “teeth” in the public policy arena is policy that has bite or a consequence element.  For example, healthcare reform might have had a provision stating that if I cross the 50 pounds overweight mark, they aren’t spending money and effort  saving me from me. “We saw you at Golden Corral putting in work.”

Dr. Martin Luther King paraphrased the Biblical prophet Amos when he said, “We are determined here in Montgomery to fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  A quick glance at hip hop history’s use of water/rain takes me from Oran Juice Jones’ “Standing in the Rain” to Boys To Men “Can You Stand the Rain.”  My brother-in-law in N.C. used that last song as his sermon title the first time I heard him preach. 

Today’s hip hop has a tune by Atlanta rapper Travis Porter called “Make It Rain” and the beat is bumping.  But (oh my goodness), a sista (the fruit that blossomed on the African tree) comes in stating, “You want to see some –ss, I want to see some cash.”  Making It Rain involves rich cats going into the night or strip club, standing in the D.J booth and making it rain money.  You Tube videos show rain events with six figures going in six seconds.  To be honest, we had the Too Live Crew back in the day but that was a novelty.  We were in college or the military to improve our families’ situation…to move forward.

If you walk down a college campus today, the dress and vibe of some of the students would alarm you.  Some college students are making a concerted effort to be as thug-like and stripper-like as possible—including my college classmates’ kids who grew up in nurturing environments.  We are moving backwards on some level and since hip hop involves Black, White, Red and Brown, the drama knows no boundaries.    

If you don’t believe me, you can get shocked on the webpage WorldStarhiphop.com.  Since I gave up on most new rap music a few years ago, I don’t watch the videos introduced on WorldStar but the homemade cellphone videos of people fighting in public are disturbing.  We are talking brawls in Pizza Hut and mothers fighting in the street.  Colin Powell said we need to reinstitute the concept of shame and I agree.   When the fights start, the camera person often says “Worldstarhiphop…this is going on Worldstarhiphop.”

We were radical in college but we could talk with political and community leaders when we broke out the khakis, ties and blazers .  If I were in college today, I would be listening to Oakland rapper KHARI because he has teeth.   He drop one called “Thickness” about curvy women that has the interest of my college classmates who are now in their 40s.  The guy is a poet like L.L. and Chuck D so listen with caution to his track “The Beast” which is about Black men in prison.  He makes some thought-provoking points but the Oakland police must be much worst that the okay rural police in my town.  KHARI is a conspiracy theorist who seems to think that prisons and the justice system are designed to make money locking up “just us.”

Hip hop is an original American art form and the current rappers are worrying my generation like our generations’ rappers must have worried our parents, preachers and professors. I swear art isn’t imitating life—life is imitating art and pulling us down.  Are they reversing past gains?   When I see the current pol sci majors at my HCBU, I am going to recommend that they checkout L.L. Cool J.’s “The Breakthrough.”  We knew that L.L. was different and that he would be having a positive impact on American culture for years.  LL is hard and has teeth but it was well-intended.  What’s the intention of today’s rapper$?

The Breakthrough: LL Cool J

Knuckleheads spreadin’ gossip all over town
Every time I drive by you’re just standin’ around
Hundred-bottles in your pocket, forty-dog in your hand
Don’t you know you’re just a worker and your boss is my man?
L.L. this, L.L. that, soon as I walk in the place
I wanna take my gun and shoot you in your muthaf-ckin’ face
You’re playin’ me too close with the schemin’ and games
I guess the beef and the bullsh-t is the price of fame
Movies, records, goin’ on tour
Twenty-thousand people hip-hoppin’ on the floor
Whole parties body-rockin’, and everything’s chill
Get back to New York, and the suckers act ill
See I fought with the devil, made a promise to God
I have experience in goin’ all the way to the top
It’s harder harder than hard
All the suckers are barred
You used to try to talk down now your ego is scarred
See the problem is you want what another man has
His car, his wife, or his razzamatazz
But that’s weak, you gotta do work on your own
cuz when you’re rich you got friends
but when you’re poor you’re alone
So get your own on your own, it’ll strengthen your soul
Stop livin’ off your parents like you’re three years old
Instead of walkin’ like you’re limp and talkin’ yang about me
why don’t you take your monkey-ass and get a college degree?
Or write a rhyme and ride a bike and try to live carefree
Hope my message reaches you before you’re seventy-three
A old man, when people ask you what you did with your life
you’ll say “I hated L.L. and I carried a big knife”
Every day is a chase, every day is a race
and every day you’re being overpowered by my bass
Too much juice to be a deuce, I had to be a ace
It’s like the fire’s in my eyes and the gun’s in my face
I’m stompin’ stupid knuckleheads until they bleed
I’m the leader of the show, so it’s up to me to lead
I’mma lead you away from drugs and petty crime
Lead you away from wack beats and rhyme
Lead you to that ticket line
so you can come in my show and watch the stars shine
Get busy, not dizzy, wanna teach the young
The last man who didn’t listen ended up gettin’ hung
Not that I killed him, it’s just
He didn’t wanna trust
the words of a master that’s why you must
Take heed to the speech, it’s gonna reach your ear
Don’t try to say you can’t hear cuz the words are clear
Throwin’ flurries, punks scurry and I bury the rest
You better hurry up and rock a rhyme and give it your best
Cuz tonight’s the night we gonna see the big fight
Twelve-gauge on the stage in case it don’t go right
E-Love drives a tank, he’s strong like a truck
If you’re cryin’ while you’re dyin’ we ain’t givin’ a f-ck
L.L. Cool J is on the microphone
tellin’ all you punk ducks “Leave me the hell alone”
Cuz I’m rated X, born to snap necks
Straight up and down, no special effects
I’m the professor, the teacher, the hip-hop dean
If Russia bombed the U.S., they’d be scared to touch Queens
Cuz that’s where I live, and this is what I give
Turnin’ top-notch crews into fugitives
They run, they frightened, they hide from King Titan
like a sniper when he’s shootin’ or a viper when he’s bitin’
Here I am, tellin’ the truth
and I’m spreadin’ the word to my fellow youth
It goes man-to-man and jam-to-jam
I got hip-hop, rock, and love song fans
All you petty MC’s in the state of New York
Gettin’ a thousand for a show but you still wanna squawk
Can’t get a decent contract, your beats ain’t workin’
Dogged-out Pumas plus you’re manager’s jerkin’
Your mic sounds weak, remember that skeezer
I’m badder than Napoleon, Hitler or Caesar
I’m a hitman, but I’m not for hire
Fly girl’s desire, the man you admire
Not only on the stage, I rock in the park
and I’m a killer in the daytime, and worse after dark
So don’t never ever mess with the king of the sound
L.L. Cool J, the baddest around.

Read Full Post »

What is the real cost of crime in America? 

The departments of the federal government directly and indirectly crossover each other.  Problems for the Justice Department often start with the Department of Education’s poor performance.  As we know, there isn’t necessarily a government answer to every problem.  As hard as it might sound, Americans who are fed-up with violent crime often think that some of the criminals never should have been born in the first place. 

Not to start an abortion debate, we should good farther back.  How can we address the huge cost of the criminal justice system by encouraging (if not forcing) people to be more deliberate about when and with whom they have kids?  Of course, young people later realize that they should have wait to a better position and situation in life before starting a family—the difference between 18 and 26 years old would be wonderful.  It hurts to think about young boys who might be heading for the jail because no one properly prepared them for life.  We spend more funds keeping guys in the State Pen than keeping them in Penn State; what a waste of human and financial resources.

LaDonna from HBO's Treme

If you do a crime, you should do the time but most of that drama and the effects on victims could have been avoided.  The HBO series Treme hit me hard recently with the violent and senseless attacks on the character bar owner LaDonna and later street music Harley Watt.  This young thug shot Harley during a street robbery for calling him “son” and the gang assault on LaDonna was painful to watch.  While that is a T.V. show, crime happens every hour of every day and I am pissed.

The U.S. Justice Department, in my opinion, should invest more in reaching those heading down the wrong path.  Some presidential candidate or the current president should be tough enough to say that we need to discourage people from having children until they are fully prepared to raise a law-abiding citizen.  It cost more to put a thug in prison for a year than many people make in salary in a year.  I shouldn’t get started on the young parents who leave the responsibility of parenthood to their parents.  The economy is rough and grandparents should be planning for retirement rather than spending on grandkids while the baby-makers slide.

Albany Herald columnist Carlton Fletcher wrote a strong one about this subject this week.

http://www.albanyherald.com/opinioncolumns/headlines/Capital_case_causes_ignore_true_victims_124688249.html

Read Full Post »