The simplistic idea that impoverished African Americans have only themselves to blame for their poverty, due to their poor cultural values—a notion advanced by many, including black public figures such as Bill Cosby—is believable only if a blind eye is turned to those inconvenient things social scientists like to call “facts.” Algernon Austin soundly refutes the “culture of poverty” argument by paying careful attention to marco-economic data about long-term poverty trends and sociological case studies about persistent discrimination. In other words, unlike the glib punditry, Austin actually looks at the “facts.”
--Dr. Andrew Hartman, professor and audience member, Illinois State University
Contact Dr. Austin to arrange a speaking engagement.
Not only does the United States have the highest incarceration rate in the world, it is also the only country in the world that sentences juveniles to life in prison without parole. Because of this inhumane treatment of juveniles, the United States is in violation of international law.
A new report from the Sentencing Project, No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America documents the rise of life sentences in America. It also reveals the too common use of life sentences and life sentences without parole against juveniles.
Blacks are overrepresented among those receiving life sentences. Blacks make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but makeup 48.3 percent of individuals serving a life sentence and 56.4 percent of individuals serving a life sentence without parole. Among juveniles serving life sentences, 47.3 percent are black, and 56.1 percent of juveniles serving sentences for life without parole are black.
The Sentencing Project points out that many of the juveniles serving life sentences without parole are quite far from being "the worst of the worst." Nearly 6 in 10 of them were sentenced so harshly for their very first criminal offense. The authors note:
This fact runs contrary to the commonly-held assumption that individuals serving LWOP [life without parole] sentences are chronic, repeat offenders. In addition, in 26% of cases, the juvenile serving an LWOP sentence was not the primary assailant and, in many cases, was present but only minimally involved in the crime. However, because of state law, they were automatically given a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.In many cases, therefore, our society mindlessly and without any reasonable justification discards the civil life of juveniles and disproportionately juveniles who are black.
These findings are among a long list showing that tough-on-crime policies have produced an extremely illogical, inhumane and anti-black criminal justice system.
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--Algernon Austin, Ph.D.
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