On Tuesday, Donald Trump received a rare bipartisan victory after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a long overdue overhaul of the criminal justice system. The revamped legislation reduces prison sentences and provides a “second chance to those who earn it.”
Well, thanks a lot. But don’t we all deserve second, and third and even fourth chances? And why has it taken so many years of anguish and unjust, undeserved lengthy sentences, disproportionately doled out to people of color, before our elected officials have finally seen the light?
The so-called war on drugs campaign and the tough talk and walk of “law and order” have done very little except lock up a record number of Black and brown men and women. Since the ’80s, we have seen more folks enter prison with longer sentences, fewer opportunities at real rehabilitation and far too frequent doors that revolve from short stints outside of the prison industrial complex back to their more familiar prison cells.
Trump and the GOP say they want to be tough on crime but also fair on crime. We’re not exactly sure what that means. One can only hope that for once, Black folk will enjoy the same modicum of justice that whites have always received. Maybe, this time around, we’ll see a more sincere effort by America’s more privileged citizens to eliminate longer, more harsh sentences for non-violent offenses which have, over the past three decades, filled our country’s jails and prisons with people of color — often poorly educated and with very few resources.
Still, there’s something else that requires a change in America’s policies and procedures. It’s high time those who have served their time be fully welcomed back into society. That means, having the right to secure federal loans for college, being allowed to live in public housing and having the immediate return of their right to vote. Everyone makes mistakes. But it seems that in the USA, people of color, or the poor or the uneducated, are required to pay for their crimes for their entire lives — both inside and outside of prison walls. That’s not justice for all.