Tag Archives: mass incarceration

Charactercrime

Let’s put aside for a moment all the political angles surrounding the story of Scot Peterson, the former Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who was recently charged with 11 crimes because of his response, or lack thereof, to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Continue reading

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Incarceration of Adult Males Caused Baltimore Riots?

Supermax_prison,_Florence_Colorado - Copy

Consider this CNN article about the Baltimore neighborhood that was the scene of recent riots (h/t Zenway). The writer says, about an older man–a blue-collar worker–who once lived in the neighborhood:

He sat like a sentry, watching not just the games but the neighborhood as well.

I knew Mr. Shields’ routine because I was his neighbor. I grew up in the West Baltimore community that was rocked this week by protests over the death of a young black man in police custody.

It’s surreal to see your old neighborhood go up in flames as commentators try to explain the rage with various complex racial and legal theories. But when I returned to my home this week, the rage made sense to me. There were no more Mr. Shields — the older black men were gone.

I asked 28-year-old Zachary Lewis about the absence of older men. …

“There ain’t no more ‘Old Heads’ anymore, where you been? They got big numbers or they in pine boxes.” In street syntax, that meant long prison sentences or death.

As I walked through my old streets, it was filled with nothing but black young women, children and teenage boys. It was as if an alien spaceship had come in the night and spirited all the older black men away.

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