Criminal justice reform has been the talk since President Trump entered the White House. Kim Kardashian, Jay-Z, Meek Mill and a host of other celebrities have sparked the conversation of reform in the criminal justice system in the United States. The problem with that is those people aren't the ones who the conversation should be with. Once again we are being misrepresented and that's not to pass judgment on them, but only Meek has had a real hands-on relationship with the system, but even still, upon release, he doesn't have to hurdle the same obstacles most Black men in this country do.
On January 3, 2019, the criminal justice reform law, known as the First Step Act, was signed off on thanks to a federal judge’s ruling. The bipartisan legislation is aimed at easing mass incarceration at the federal level. It impacts those in the federal system, which is about 181,000 incarcerated people. That is only a small subset of the 2.1 million people in all U.S. prisons (roughly 1.2 million Black) but is an important step nonetheless. About 25% of the total US adult black population has a felony, while 6.5% of adult non-blacks have a felony conviction. About 8.6% of the adult population has a felony conviction.
Florida is a particularly egregious police state. 35% of adult blacks in Florida have a felony conviction, 14% of the total adult population in Florida have a felony conviction.
The felony that remains with every man who has been to prison until he dies is the biggest detriment to Black growth in America. The crime can be minimal and carry a sentence of 1-year or more, or it can be egregious and carry a decades-long sentence, but each person is treated the same forever upon release. The law was created to keep the little people down. To White law-makers, a felonious Caucasian is expendable in the plight of Whites in America, and they are viewed as trash and worthless criminals just like the Black Americans charged. The difference is that even though they are considered trash to many Whites in high positions of power, they have a better chance of completing parole without recidivism and in life upon release.
A person who has committed a felony is a felon. In addition, upon conviction of a felony in a court of law, a person is known as a convicted felon or a convict. In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. If punishable by exactly one year or less, it is classified as a misdemeanor. The actual prison sentence handed out has no effect on the classification, which is based on the maximum sentence possible under the law. Individual states may differ in that definition by using other categories, such as seriousness or context.
If you are a convicted felon and were sentenced to state prison, your gun rights will be restored only by a full pardon by the Governor (and for a handful of offenses, even a full pardon will not restore gun rights.) On the other hand, if you were convicted of a felony but granted probation, it’s often possible to restore gun rights by petitioning pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 17(b) to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor. Simple drug possession can lead to a lifelong felony jacket to wear forever.
Everything in this country can be vindicated, except if you commit murder or you're a felon on any level. That's powerful because a man who committed a crime when he was twenty, did 2 two years in prison and has never been in trouble again can't have his rights at 50 years of age and can't get a job he is qualified for because he has a 30-year-old felony.
A lot of wealthy white-collar felons end up getting pardons from presidents or they get the felonies expunged over time. White-privilege is real and although it was somewhat trying to be shielded in the past, today outwardly displays of racism from Whites toward Blacks, Jews, and Latinos are on the rise.
Black families with children or relatives eligible to possess firearms have to do it only by locking the weapons up with a key that can never be in possession of a felon under no circumstances. So while White men are becoming vigilantes, Black men are unable to properly protect their families due to laws that are meant to break families up through schematics.
Continuous plots against Blacks in America have been well thought-out for centuries. Starting with the house-nigga vs. the field-nigga. Then we watched our women be raped and impregnated by white slave-masters. Then the Willie Lynch theory came into effect and it pitted light Blacks against darker Blacks and Black women against Black men. Then we fought for freedom during the Civil War, only to have no rights afterward. Jim Crow came next and that continued the mental bondage that the enslaved mind is in because we still had no rights as full men in America. The Civil Rights movement came and White men plotted on and were responsible for the deaths of Martin, Malcolm, and Medger. With the Black Panther Party on the rise, our minds were breaking out of the bondage, so the government dropped heroin all over the country and enticed poor people to get high and drown out their poverty-based reality. In the 80s crack-cocaine hit ghettos all over America and Black America hasn't really bounced back from that, due to the hundreds of thousands of Black men who went to prison for cocaine possession or distribution under mandatory-minimum drug laws. Then the 3-strike laws came into play.
Thousands of men in Los Angeles accepted strikes on cases that were not 3-strike cases so they could get out of jail sooner. Later, those fraudulent 3-strike convictions came back to haunt them and many of the men received 25-to-life sentences fraudulently. The system can change the system for the system's benefit, but never for the convicted.
Convicted felons lose rights from voting to employment, depending on their state of residence. While some of the rights convicted felons lose may be restored over time, some of the rights are lost forever. Throughout the United States, some of the general rights convicted felons lose are as follows, varying state by state:
The right to bear arms or own guns
Employment in certain fields
Public social benefits and housing
Most of these privileges can be restored over time and with completion of parole, but the combination of these things is meant to break a person so they can never be successful and never be able to properly and legally protect their home. Having a felony is being a slave forever to the system.
There are attorneys all over the country who fight post-felony convictions, but you have to read the laws of your state to know you are eligible for the expungement. Change.org is in the business of reform and so is convictionfree.com, who has been in the business of felony reform for over 28 years.
Photo courtesy takebackmiami.blogspot.com