Addressing the Problem of Mass Incarceration

Lorenzo and LaResse at UUSE 5-14On 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 manyLorenzo Jones at UUS:E 5-14 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. 

Officer Rev. JoshFor more information, see Rev. Josh’s testimony in support of HB 6511 hereLorenzo and LaResse




Rev. Josh Pawelek’s Testimony on Drug-Free School Zones, Monday, March 11

drug free school zoneThe American public is becoming increasingly aware of the phenomenon of mass incarceration of people of color—specifically Black and Hispanic men—due largely (though not exclusively) to the “war on drugs.” Popular books such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, make it abundantly clear that our criminal justice system features a patchwork of laws that result in the incarceration of Black and Hispanic men in numbers that far exceed their relative proportion in the general population. This racialized mass incarceration is unfair, misguided, unsustainable and racist. Read more….