Alabama: Southern Discomfort
The war on Black men is denied in media but it doesn’t stop them from becoming legal slaves of the penal-industrial complex
Every morning I wake to the news of another round of injustice from the American legal system.
Another article where an unarmed Black man, somehow managed to terrorize two, highly trained, police officers with his empty hands, or a cell phone or a ham sandwich or some Skittles or by being mentally handicapped or by just being there… and rounds are fired, vacations are dispensed and funeral arrangements are made, all without any accountability on the part of the vacationers.
While at the same time, highly armed, White men terrorize cities with random acts of violence using assault weapons, letter bombs, gathering in large highly armed troops to protest their obsolescence, beating, threatening and even killing those who protest against them. These acts of terror, however, still managed to result in live criminals who manage to enjoy the benefits of a jury trial and the shortest sentences allowed. No matter how terrible their acts of violence, they managed to be taken alive.
Every day I am reminded, as a Black man, I have no value to America and given the first opportunity I am to be disposed of like garbage. When the justice system doesn’t kill us, it takes advantage of every chance it can, to imprison Black youth for as long as possible, returning them to the only form of legalized slavery left in the United States, the penal system.
Here was Friday’s fare:
Lakeith Smith Got 65 Years for the Death of a 16-Year-Old Killed By Police
Lakeith Smith Gets 65 Years for Death of 16-Year-Old Killed by Police
Much has been made of the fact that a black teenager laughed openly in court before being sentenced to 65 years in…
In early March, Lakeith Smith, 18, was convicted of felony murder, burglary and theft for helping in the 2015 break-ins of two homes in Millbrook, Ala.
Smith was only 15 years old when he and a group of cohorts were confronted by police after being accused of breaking and entering.
His friend, A’Donte Washington, was killed by police that night, shot four times for allegedly brandishing a gun.
Yet under Alabama’s accomplice liability law, Smith was not only tried as an adult but also charged in A’Donte’s death, even though it was a cop’s bullet that ended the 16-year-old’s life.
The article is brief. Read it. I’ll wait.
Let me see if I understand this:
A fifteen year old, Lakeith Smith (at the time of his trial, he is now 18) is going to jail for twenty years (through the dark magic of plea bargaining) after he was charged with murder (which was committed by the police) upon HIS friend.
Both young men were unarmed and yet somehow the police who shot and killed the other young man are exonerated of any wrong-doing.
I say again: Lakeith Smith was unarmed. He did not shoot his friend OR at any police officers. The police killed his friend (when he was 15) and faced no censure, no accountability, no responsibility for this child’s death.
Instead, the murder of his friend is being placed upon Lakeith’ s shoulders using some legal sleight-of hand, which makes him responsible for his friend’s death.
Get the fuck outta here. <I need a moment to collect myself and climb up on my soapbox.>
When someone in America wants to tell me that Black men and women have the same opportunities, the same options, the same choices as their White counterparts, I have to give you a hearty, well-intentioned, FUCK YOU.
Here is what happens when young White men kill Black men:
Ohio Teens That Killed Black Man Will Receive No Jail Time
The four teens who threw a sandbag off an overpass that killed an Ohio man will not face jail time. They will instead…
The four teens who threw a sandbag off an overpass that killed an Ohio man will not face jail time. They will instead be sent to a “treatment center.”
On Dec 18, four teens between the ages of 13 and 14 threw rocks and sandbags onto Interstate 75 in Toledo, Ohio. They killed 22-year-old Ohio resident, Marquise Byrd who was riding in the passenger seat of the car.
According to WTVG, three of the teens were sentenced to three years in the Department of Youth Service, while the teen who dropped the sandbag was sentenced to the Department of Youth Service until he turns 21.
However, Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon suspended all four sentences and ruled they be placed in a “treatment center.”
See the difference? These young, White citizens are not being held accountable for their actions. And the judge seems compelled to circumvent the legal system which would have sent them into juvenile institutions and instead allows them to go to a “treatment center.”
They boys are of a similar age, engaged in the behavior which shouldn’t have become a lifetime of punishment. Except in the case of young men of color, it always seems to end up this way. Either we experience corporal punishment delivered by the hands of the police, or the judicial system harvests our years in a penitentiary while we work for greedy corporations who grow rich from penal labor.
50 Companies Supporting Modern American Slavery
With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world.
No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens. There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population. Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014. Out of an adult population of 245 million that year, there were 2.4 million people in prison, jail or some form of detention center.
The vast majority — 86 percent — of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug-related.
Caged Bird Magazine is a multcultural platform that aims to uplift minority thought and creativity.
What is happening to Lakeith Smith is not justice.
Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Justice is this young man taking his case to court, not plea-bargaining after being threatened with spending his life in jail.
Justice is a jury recognizing he was a teenager with a challenged past and doing for him what is done for every White young man who ends up in court.
Justice is this young man ending up on probation, taken to a rehabilitation program and provided opportunities missed due to his position in life in a hope to change his life through work with the state’s programs.
Justice is the two police officers being tried and sent to jail for overstepping their legal boundaries, acting as judge, jury and executioner, exacting capital punishment for misdemeanor crimes.
Justice is the simple fact there would be no expectation these men should ever work as policemen again in any capacity.
Justice is these same policemen pulling a stint of 5–20 and the murdered boy’s parents getting a sizable settlement for the loss of their child, sufficient enough for police departments to know, it will cost them dearly every time someone dies on their watch. Perhaps it should come from police pension funds, instead of taxpayers. If they were all watching out for their livelihoods, while they watched out for our lives, we could all be happier.
Justice won’t make their family whole. Justice won’t bring back their child. But it would start making the idea of the police no longer believing they have the right to murder Black citizens in their line of work without consequence, and this would be a start toward tackling this national and personal pain.
This current cavalcade of injustice reminds me how still unequal the system of justice is in America. I scream internally every time I read the news, waiting for the next story of an encounter with the police ending in a two week vacation and a funeral where no one is held accountable, but someone is still dead.
Alabama has a problematic legal system and a penal industrial complex which is rife with challenges. This three pack of articles will help inform you to the reason Lakeith Smith must go to prison, for as long as the system will allow.
Alabama Prisons Ruled 'Horrendously Inadequate,' Must Improve
A federal judge is ordering Alabama to improve the way it treats mentally ill prisoners after ruling that the state…
Alabama Sheriff Legally Took $750,000 Meant To Feed Inmates, Bought Beach House
A sheriff in Alabama took home as personal profit more than $750,000 that was budgeted to feed jail inmates - and then…
Alabama's Prison System Goes On Trial
A lawsuit on behalf of Alabama's prisoners, claiming they're being denied mental health care, begins in federal court…
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), is the agency responsible for incarceration of convicted felons in the state of Alabama in the United States. It is headquartered in the Alabama Criminal Justice Center in Montgomery.
Alabama has struggled to handle a rising prison population as state mandatory sentencing laws resulted in longer prison sentences. It operates the nation’s most crowded prison system. In 2015 it housed more than 24,000 inmates in a system designed for 13,318.
In 2015 it settled a class-action suit over physical and sexual violence against inmates at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka. The department also spends the least of any state on a per-prisoner basis.
Additional lawsuits against ADOC allege that men also face physical and sexual violence in the overcrowded prisons. In October 2016, the US Department of Justice announced that it was conducting a statewide review and investigation of Alabama’s men’s prisons to evaluate conditions.
In his February 2017 State of the State address, Governor Robert Bentley proposed a three-faceted approach to overhaul the Department by upgrading and replacing outdated facilities, as well as creating centers to prepare inmates for re-entry to their communities.
In June 2017, a federal court pointed out the Department provided inadequate psychotherapy, unsafe crisis cells, inadequate monitoring of suicidal inmates, inappropriate discipline and that it placed inmates in “dangerous and harmful settings.”
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding.
As a prolific writer of speculative fiction, scientific, technical and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California, Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.
Thaddeus works as a writer and editor for two magazines, the Good Men Project, a social men’s magazine as well as for Krypton Radio, a sci-fi enthusiast media station and website. He is also a freelance journalist for Polygon.com and Panel & Frame magazine. Thaddeus is the co-founder of Futura Science Fiction Magazine and one of the founding members of the Afrosurreal Writers Workshop in Oakland.