You Shall Pursue

May 14, 2012

Failures of Justice: Incarcerated Youth

Filed under: Social Justice — Tags: , , , , — marleyweiner @ 2:08 am

So this article from the Village Voice made my skin crawl (warning for extremely graphic images of open wounds).

Basically, the article discusses the endemic and growing problem of violence in the juvenile wards at Rikers Island. Gangs of teenagers engage in multi-person fights, often with weapons, in order to establish a system of control of privileges such as phone access, food, and control of the television. Let me repeat that; CHILDREN are cutting each other up for access to the TV. And it appears, based on the Voice report, that prison employees are systematically downplaying the prevalence that these fights have in the juvenile population. In some cases, it appears that guards may have been encouraging these fights or using them as a means of population control.

Western culture often sees men with criminal records as less than human. These young men are seen as “getting what is coming to them,” as brutality, injury, and even rape are seen as natural consequences of breaking the law in the United States. But here’s the thing. These inmates are children. While they are serving out their sentence, the government has a responsibility to them (as it supposedly does to all prisoners) to protect bodily integrity and keep them from harm.

I am especially troubled by the overwhelming prevalence of young men of color in these pictures. Since New York City’s stop and frisk laws overwhelmingly target people of color, and, in fact, stops and frisks more young black and Latino men and teenagers than there are black and Latino young men in New York, this points to a disturbing trend wherein these young men are disproportionately arrested, and then brutalized within the penal system.

I am a religious Jew, and my sense of faith leaves me especially sickened by these images. The rabbis taught that one must be exceptionally careful when handing down capital cases, to the point that Eliezer ben Azariah said that a court which put a person to death once every 70 years was exceptionally bloodthirsty. While we are not killing these boys outright, we are sending them into custody where they are brutalized, attacked, and deprived of opportunities to make a better life for themselves upon release. We are using the prison system to destroy the lives of minors, and as a feeling person, I don’t know what the words are to express my sorrow. My heart goes out to them and to their families.

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May 10, 2012

President Obama: Same-Sex Couples Should Be Legal

Filed under: Social Justice — Tags: , , , — marleyweiner @ 4:14 am

From NPR

On a similar note, a word from Proverbs:

“Do not withhold good from one who deserves it
When you have the power to do it.
Do not say to your fellow, ‘Come back again; I’ll give it to you tomorrow,’ when you have it with you.”

I sincerely hope this leads to more policy shifts on the Federal level. I’m scared by all of the bigoted State Constitutional Amendments getting passed.

May 2, 2012

May Day

Filed under: Social Justice — Tags: , , — marleyweiner @ 2:51 am

Today was May Day. I went into the office, came home, and read about other people protesting the current social order. I hate to admit it, but I was scared to call in sick, scared to join the people in the streets, scared to break out of my status quo today. I recognize that it is a vitally important thing to be out on the streets with others who care about creating a more equitable and just society. I recognize that there is racism, classism, sexism, and abuse of power that needs protesting, that there is shit that needs occupying. But I am scared of getting arrested. I am scared of ending up in jail, or getting screamed at or beaten by the police. I am scared of getting fired, or of what impact an arrest record might have on my future career. It is hard, knowing what the life-affirming choice is, and then not making that choice. And it is something that I am going to have to think and pray about. A lot.

April 14, 2012

Toward a Sane Model of Wealth Distribution

Filed under: Social Justice — Tags: , — marleyweiner @ 6:38 am

Copying over some of the old posts from my blog, circa April 2011…

This post may come out a bit blurry, because it’s something I’m just starting to think about. But I think it’s super important to get these thoughts out on paper.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about the budget cuts in congress, and how congress is not interested in increasing the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans to subsidize desperately needed programs to help poor Americans thrive. And lots of Conservatives are calling poor people lazy, and saying that it is not the duty of the government to provide a safety network for poor Americans, because small government, or private charity, or some other bullshit. And this is, of course, complete and utter bullshit. But I have for a long time trying to find a succinct way of explaining WHY this is bullshit so that conservatives would understand. I think I hit upon it.

(more…)

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