On Tuesday, May 14th, 25 UUS:E members attended a workshop on the problem of mass incarceration with Lorenzo Jones and LaResse Harvey of A Better Way Foundation. We know that Black and Hispanic men (and increasingly women) are sent to prison in far greater numbers than their relative proportion in the population. We know the United States “war on drugs” has led to structures and practices in the criminal justice system that unfairly penalize Black and Hispanic men (and increasingly women). We know this problem of mass incarceration is one of our nation’s great moral failings. The question is what can we do about it?
While we recognize there is an enormous amount of work to do to end mass incarceration, and while we know the work will take many years, there is something we can do right now in Connecticut. The Connecticut General Assembly is about to debate House Bill 6511 which, if passed, will reduce the size of drug free school zones from 1500 feet to 200 feet. With the 1500 ft. drug free school zone in effect, urban drug dealers (who more often tend to be people of color) are penalized more severely than suburban and rural drug dealers (who tend to be white) because most urban street corners are within 1500 feet of a school. That is, the current drug free school zone is a source of mass incarceration. The UUS:E Social Justice Committee is encouraging all members and friends who feel moved to contact their legislators and ask them to support HB 6511.
For more information, see Rev. Josh’s testimony in support of HB 6511 here.