The root of crime is poverty and hopelessness and yet the response to crime seems to always be MORE police and policing. We lean towards more Law Enforcement instead of interrogating the lack of effectiveness that MORE enforcement and police have on the cities, bureaus, and counties they “serve” throughout the United States of America. When we examine poverty, our response also seems ill-fitting. One might say more money would immediately solve poverty. “The opposite of poverty is not wealth but justice.” — Bryan Stevenson
Justice should be our goal in a fair and free society. In the United States of America, we continue to struggle to become the nation that our professions proclaim. Government is supposed to be “Of the People, by the People, and for the People…” . And yet, we are still arguing after 2.5 years as to whether we had a free and fair election in 2020 when we elected, by over 7 million votes, Joseph R. Biden as our 46th POTUS. There are still people, after numerous lawsuits and judgements to the contrary, who believe that our election was “stolen”. After mountains of evidence has proven beyond any “reasonable” doubt that Joe Biden is the duly and legally elected 46th POTUS, this 1/3 of American voters believe the opposite. Instead of believing the “Naked Truth” they believe the LIE dressed up to look like the truth. It’s hard to live within the construct of “Truth, Justice, and the American way” when so many people won’t believe the TRUTH even when you show it to them?
There are so many people in power who are pursuing a completely counter-narrative to what the USA is supposed to be as a nation, and what we are supposed to stand for as a people. The recent SCOTUS ruling rescinding the basic civil and human rights of the women, girls, and people with a uterus in this country has given us a wake-up call. The lack of bodily autonomy immediately diminishes the personhood of an individual. Enslavement of African people for over 400 years in this country is a glaring example. Lack of bodily autonomy was a fundamental precept of slavery and bondage. The contradictions of character, perception and practice versus nature and truth in the USA continues to broaden instead of narrow.
The Crime Bill of 1994, titled the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, was the largest crime bill in the history of our country providing 100,000 new police officers, 9.7 billion in funding for prisons and 6.1 billion for prevention programs (with significant police input into exactly how those funds were used), and 2.6 billion in additional funding for FBI, DEA, INS, United States Attorneys, and other Justice Department components. They spent a lot of money and yet the impact on our cities , towns, and communities was far below what would be the “expected” outcomes from such a large expenditure of funds. The exponential rate of increased incarceration for black and brown people and the building, funding, and maintaining of the “for profit” Prison industrial Complex was the greatest single outcome of the 1994 Crime Bill. In fact, the legacy of that bill is a level of ineffectiveness for law enforcement in the last several years that gives credence to the old adage, “the chickens have come home to roost” . The idea that police officers are here to “protect and serve” has been proven to be an absolute falsehood in black and brown communities over the decades since the Crime Bill was passed. Instead, the primary impact on black and brown communities can only be characterized as suspect, adversarial, dangerous, and even deadly.
The investment in crime and punishment in the U.S. has exacerbated an already unjust and historically inequitable and predatory
relationship that black and brown communities have with law enforcement and the criminal justice system since first encountering white America over 400 years ago. It’s time that as a nation we stop doing the same old thing expecting a different result. We must seriously interrogate “how” funds are allocated for law enforcement, criminal justice, and policing in this country. It is time to defund “policing” and start funding, investing in, and resourcing our communities.