Sarah (contd)- Activist, Prison Volunteer

I don’t think there’s a group of people in a room somewhere plotting all of this but if you look at when the tough on crime movement happened, if you like at the legislation that caused mass incarceration, and when it passed. It’s in the wake of the Black Power Movement. It’s in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s in the wake of people of color building power and a lot of shifts in the US that threatened people who have the power.

I think a lot of the policies that have created and perpetuated mass incarceration came out racism came out of fear of communities of color that are perpetuated by politicians and the media. But if you look at young people being tried as adults, those laws were passed in the 90’s in large part due to this idea of the super predator and the central park jogger case who turned out NOT to be the 5 young men who were coerced into confessing. That was all sort of media fed hysteria about people of color, and you still see it today. If you look at the three people who were charged with the assault in center city a few weeks ago, the three young white people from Bucks County, for a week and a half they weren’t arrested because the police were getting their side of the story. There were stories in the paper about their lawyers arranging interviews and reports from the police about how they wanted to do a thorough investigation and make sure that they had all of the facts and I never seen that with any of the young people I work with. They don’t take a few weeks to make sure they’re arresting the right person. If it’s a 15 year old person of color, I mean, that just doesn’t happen. And the bails posted were half the amount. I work with three young women who were arrested for assault on a Temple Student recently and they were each given 100,000 dollar bails and they were 15 and 16 years old. But the details of the assault were not that different from the details of the 3 in center city and they clearly have a far less ability to pay a 100,000 dollar bail than the 3 people arrested in the center city assault.

Sarah- Activist, Prison Volunteer

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