Nov. 6, 2019

There's A Big Problem In Maryland For Blacks: Jail Is In Their Future

In Maryland, blacks comprise 31% of the state's population. However, the population in the state's penal institutions is 70%. This incarceration percentage surpasses the rate of incarceration of blacks surpasses the percentages of deep south states of Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia. The national incarceration of blacks is 32%. The State of Maryland's incarceration of blacks is more than twice the rate of the country's percentage. To those of us who live in Maryland, it seems to me and it should be apparent to others that something is wrong with the judicial system in Maryland. How can a state like Maryland that is supposedly liberal in its policies have such a disparity in the incarceration of blacks?

Historically, Maryland has a jaded record in terms of civil and social justice towards blacks. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who ruled against Dred Scott, Roger Taney was from Maryland. It was Taney's ruling that blacks had no rights that a white man had to respect in 1857. Which indirectly to the nation splitting and causing the Civil War. Currently, Maryland is in the midst of a lawsuit brought by the State's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Morgan State, Bowie State, Coppin State, UMES). These schools have shown in the courts that Maryland's policies treated each of these schools that catered to African American students unfairly for more a century or more. While providing the state's white colleges and universities quality funding and resources.

The State of Maryland's political and judicial leaders both white and black needs to read and fully digest 4 books right now and have a dialogue that focuses on how to implement policies of equity across the state. I would suggest that they read and comprehend the two books authored by Ibram Kendi, Stamped From The Beginning and How To Be An Anti-Racist which will give a solid footing on the history of Racism in America and also some constructive models on how to address and counteract that racism, both implied and explicit. Also, I would recommend a thorough analysis of The New Jim Crow; Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness which will direct the decision to effective models to construct state policies that aren't habitually directed at incarceration but models that direct state policies to uplift rather than incarcerate. Finally, I would request those state policymakers and judicial members read Angela Davis's book, Policing the Blackman which includes a series of essays directed towards identifying specific strategies that have harm blacks in the nation related to law enforcement policing and judicial sentencing. These four resources which I have detailed on The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project will provide a structured analysis of what pervasive strategies and policies have proved harmful to blacks in our legal system.

Finally, getting back to the prospects of our children in black communities not only in Maryland but also across the nation. Until we address the educational system that continues to fail our children. We will continue to have far too many adults of color incarcerated not only in Maryland but states with significant black populations. We must work out effective strategies that will eliminate the issue of limited math and reading proficiencies with our black children in schools across the nation. For it has shown that limited skills in literacy and mathematics do align to future periods of incarceration. The struggle to improve our educational strategic models of instruction must be a joint community effort. It cannot be solved simply by educational professionals. The effort must involve teachers, students, educational administrators, government policymakers, and community activists everyone committed to addressing this issue collectively.

There is no way that Maryland's black prison population should have a black prisoner population that exceeds twice the national average. That fact should disturb every Maryland State policymaker. The article that appeared in today's Sunpaper certainly disturbed me to my very core. Because I saw from my personal experiences working with public schools that serious problems existed related to boosting the reading and math proficiencies of black students across the nation. Those students that I saw 15-20 years ago are now the adults who comprise the black prison population in 2019.

I am asking that policymakers take some time to develop core reading groups to get a handle on this situation in Maryland. This is just a start. Please take this issue seriously. We are failing our children of color in Maryland, all of us, not just the policy makers but every facet of the black communities.