Read this now

Coming out of blog-hibernation to post a link to this article.

Ray Jasper was convicted and given the death penalty for the robbery and murder of David Alejandro in 1998.  The details of the crime and Ray’s part in it are horrifying.  I can not imagine losing a family member to horrific violence.  Ray is not an innocent man.

And yet, I can not read an account like Ray’s and not be moved by the injustice that young men of color (especially black men) face in the justice system in this country.  I can not imagine the thought experiment he proposes, to walk into a courtroom to be judged by a jury of my peers, and not have a single person representing my race and background.  I can not understand how we can continue to support the criminalization and incarceration of black men at the rates we do.  At what point can we realize (as Ray puts it) that, “A doctor can’t look at a person and see cancer, they have to look beyond the surface. When you look at the Justice system, the Death Penalty, or anything else, it takes one to go beyond the surface. Proper diagnosis is half the cure.” and do more for our young black men than locking them away, or snuffing them out altogether.

One in nine (11.7%) African American males between the ages of 25 and 29 is currently incarcerated in a prison or jail.

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(Data from 2007, http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_stateratesofincbyraceandethnicity.pdf)

Ray wrote a letter for Gawker’s Letters From Death Row series, here.

On the related topic of problems with our criminal justice system, another difficult look at young (primarily) men held in solitary, here.

Here is a petition to commute Ray Jasper’s death sentence.

Here is a link to The Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group committed to a fair and effective justice system.

And here is a link to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, if you want to become more involved.

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