No Clemency For Felons Means Southern Racism Is Back
Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott ramrodded through a decision that explains why African-Americans have no faith in the criminal justice system or those who run it. On March 9, giving virtually no public notice or warning his own cabinet, the state's leader made it ungodly hard for ex-felons to vote. Ever. Even if they have reformed.
In 2004, one in five blacks here couldn't cast a ballot because of this rule. Charlie Crist began righting this. Scott has turned back the clock. Police officers and prosecutors spoke in favor of the changes. It is to their benefit to make sure felons return to a life of crime.
Scott's decision comes on the heels of his plan to give the state prison system to private corporations. Instead of trying to come up with ways to break the vicious circle of crime that afflicts predominantly African-American communities, the governor wants to continue it. Inmates mean dollars. Private prison companies funnel money into the campaigns of candidates running for sheriff, judge, state attorney, and governor to assure the system keeps humming.
We need to come together as a community and empathize with what generations of African-Americans live through every day. When you lived through events such as the 1980 Arthur McDuffie riots and then still see black males being gunned down by police without explanation nearly 40 years later, how can you have faith in the criminal justice system?
When your community for decades hasn't seen any new businesses come in -- except for the steady rotation of dope boys on the corner -- how can you believe that the government wants to see you succeed? People who disagree will say African-Americans in Liberty City and Overtown choose to live in a war zone; it's their own fault. I don't know a single black person who's happy to live in an American version of Afghanistan.
Everyone wants to look down on criminals, but Governor Scott and his cronies don't want to take the time to analyze the circumstances that made those people criminals. He doesn't want to reform a criminal justice system that is geared toward making sure prisons have a steady population. Hell, Scott showed last week he doesn't even like democracy.
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