Tag Archives: Social Issues

The females the Women’s March ignored.

In Washington DC, and around the globe, protesters took to the streets to announce their distaste for some of the rhetoric, and plans which may come to light of the new US President, Donald Trump. …

Source: The females the Women’s March ignored.

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Of Rights and Regulation

0937e0e96df56c0107d64810adea3448How much security can one safely expect in the modern world?

About this terrible shooting  by Omar Mateen in Orlando, Florida last weekend. Here is some weight I have to get off my conscience. It goes like this;

This shooter should never have had access to the weapon used, but because of our laws, that so far have served the purpose they were intended to, he was.

Why is that?

Our constitution is supposed to guarantee certain inalienable rights. The second amendment says we have the right to bear arms, but it also says that privilege is limited to “a well regulated Militia” and we now have the National Guard for that purpose. That still leaves open the definition of what constitutes a Militia. Is it run by the government? Then it is not a true Militia.

The other part of the 2nd Amendment that says that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”; is also open to interpretation, an interpretation widely held by some people to be absolute without any restrictions. But that one is too vague on it’s face.

This man involved had been on an FBI or Homeland Security watch list and that is where I have a problem. Our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people, yet we have our own government virtually spying on it’s own citizens and that is unconstitutional in my estimation.

The 14th Amendment is about civil rights and basically says, and this is supposed to apply nationally, that; “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection under the law.

This man had been spied on and evaluated and yet he still got a weapon and was still not denied his right to bear arms even with the spying. So we’re supposed to think that this spy system we have now gives us a sense of security? It sure doesn’t me. It must be eliminated.

One former president said that those that give up any rights and expect to gain security lose their rights and have no security (paraphrased of course).

He’s the problem. Assault type weapons. No one should have the right to any gun that has clips that require virtually no reloading, shots that can be fired as fast as one can pull the trigger, can be altered to full automatic easily and are basically weapons that only a trained military enlisted person should own. Why? Because they have just one purpose, to kill as many people as fast as possible.

That’s my interpretation of the 2nd and 14th Amendments and although I believe that this man had yet to commit any felony and therefore should not have been spied on, he had all the rights to these weapons just like any other U.S. citizen.

It’s the weapons that are so easily available is what needs to change here. Not the constitution, but the changing of some constitutionally legal laws designed to do some “well regulating” if you will.

This tragedy might have been prevented with a federal law that bans ALL assault type semi-automatic rifles.

I believe that also to have a real lasting effect the ban should also include any hand gun with the same features (semi-auto, clip fed, easily altered).

This stance, or opinion if you prefer and I expect to be called out. Be my guest.

This is legal to do and should be done. As for the whole spying thing, another day another subject.

Weak Without Guns: Open Carry Texas

Carrying guns openly in public doesn’t help basic logic skills

It was just an ordinary day on twitter, when I suddenly noticed Open Carry Texas was acting all smug because Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America wouldn’t meet with them. OCT has a long history of attempting to intimidate Moms Demand of course, and I decided maybe I should call them on that.

Open Carry Texas

Yes, their members have a history of murder. Here’s the link I tweeted to them. They tried to blow that off as a one-time thing, after trying to deny it first. Hey, no big deal one of their own suddenly snapped and killed her family, it was just the one time! They’d also prefer we ignore some of the criminal records their various followers possess.

Not to mention the intimidating way they introduced themselves to Moms Demand by displaying their guns to them while they met for lunch; using female mannequins to stand in for the Moms to be shot up; along with their constant swarming of Moms Demand members on twitter and Facebook, along with whomever else supports responsible firearms legislation, this writer included.

At this point, I informed them how often I get death threats from gun lobby supporters and suggested that might be contributing to their image problems. I showed them this screenshot as an example:

Open Carry Texas

I wasn’t expecting sympathy from Open Carry Texas on this, but I did want to illustrate why Moms Demand didn’t want to talk to them. Besides OCT’s constant smear campaigns against them, that is. It took them a day to answer, and their response was that both sides were equally complicit in death threats against children, a laughable premise, and tried to dismiss it entirely:

Open Carry Texas

My answer was to say that threatening the life of a child was unjustifiable. They simply insulted me in response, and said I was the one threatening them:

Open Carry Texas

Open Carry Texas

image

Open Carry Texas thinks they are the ones getting bullied. They were the ones crying “victim” in the first place, that’s what got me to engage them. Those mean Moms won’t talk to them! Why can’t anyone see that they’re nice, reasonable people!

Also, I was apparently the one threatening them, even though I’d done nothing of the sort. Unless pointing out their history and the flaws in their arguments were what Open Carry Texas considered “threats.” If so, this should bring up grave concerns as to what they see as a threat while they’re walking around with firearms.

It was during this exchange a fellow by the name of Gavan Boucher challenged OCT over how they must feel weak without their guns. Open Carry Texas didn’t seem to grasp his point, and went ahead and confirmed it:

Open Carry Texas

Whether it was because they realized they’d argued themselves into a corner; felt outnumbered by three dudes on the Internet; or because (more likely) they’d just given up; OCT didn’t try again until the next day. Which was curious, because they just picked right back up with the insults, even though it had gotten them nowhere:Open Carry Texas

So, as they were sticking with the whole “death threats against your kid don’t mean shit because people threaten us sometimes” angle, I stayed on them with how that’s not ethically sound. I pointed out how they could barely handle pushback against their own arguments, so probably shouldn’t try to justify death threats. The next day, Open Carry Texas made another attempt to do just that:

Open Carry Texas

Open Carry Texas had taken three days to issue these responses. Perhaps the organizational account was being handled by several people who weren’t bothering to check how the conversation had gone previously, and decided to just miss the points previously made and insult me as their predecessors had done. Perhaps it was just one person, with no idea how to present or defend an argument.

But it was clear that OCT wasn’t very good at debating. They’d been run in a circle, had utterly failed to prove they weren’t comprised of dangerous people, and certainly weren’t very pleasant to deal with. They couldn’t even condemn death threats against a child, instead trying to justify them with “Well we get threats sometimes too!”  Yet they claimed it was Moms Demand who were bullying OCT?

image

Then OCT tried to “Rand Paul” their tweets, saying they didn’t say what they’d just said. I simply sat back and let them continue destroying their own arguments. Like what happened next, when they disavowed Kory Watkins, after I reminded them of his recent antics:

Open Carry Texas

Mmm. Open Carry Texas had nothing to do with how Kory Watkins got so big. Even though his picture is present on the OCT website several times and he used their platform to raise himself to greater prominence, they can’t be held responsible.

Oh really, Open Carry Texas? If you can’t take even partial responsibility for Kory Watkins implying lawmakers who oppose Open Carry’s goals deserve death; Hell, if you can’t even take responsibility for your own words, then how can you be trusted to take responsibility for a firearm?

This isn’t blaming guns, as Open Carry Texas likes to say, it’s blaming people. One simple twitter conversation easily exposed OCT’s inability to hold together a solid argument or even admit to their own words on screenshot. They are unable to condemn those who threaten the life of a child. They admitted they feel weak without guns. All they had to offer was hatefulness and insults. And they can’t even be honest about it.

Open Carry Texas

And that was pretty much it. They blocked me after that, just like John Lott did when he couldn’t out-debate me, and the blatantly racist NRA Cheerleader “Raging” Rob Kinnison did as well.

The surprising thing about the conversation was how little interference I got from OCT’s followers. No doubt they were trying to pile on, but I’d been speaking out against gun lobbies for a year now, and the worst and most awful of the gun troll accounts were previously blocked. Accounts, it needs to be said, with a history of threatening and insulting those who don’t go along with their Molon Labe viewpoints. Accounts repeatedly retweeted by… Drum Roll… Open Carry Texas!

The takeaway here is that the most vocal pro-gun people count on insults and intimidation to get their way. I’ve proven this before, here and here. They are certain to continue along these lines. For proof, just look to the comments underneath pieces like these. They are invariably jammed with gun lobby supporters trying to virtually shout me down.

Many of the commenters, it needs to be said, have had to be blocked from my personal profiles for vile attacks on my family as well as myself. That’s just how they roll. But there aren’t as many of them as they’d like you to believe. And most of them are in Texas.

Stand up to Open Carry Texas, and all those like them. Don’t let them have their way. OCT are not good guys, but bullies. They are dishonest about their motivations. They can’t even defend their own arguments. And if all they have are threats and insults, then just block them. The rest won’t be able to handle you, and they will block you.

But where you block them for threats and scorn, they will block you for the truth. You can’t get a clearer distinction of right and wrong than that.

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Star Trek – The Conservative Nightmare

Why Conservatives hated Star Trek long before Obama admitted to loving Spock

Star TrekA couple days after the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the Young Turks did a little segment on conservative blogger Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon. The discussion was centered on Continetti’s dislike of Nimoy’s Star Trek Character Spock, but his opinion was based more on how President Obama viewed the Vulcan character.

“Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the centre of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.” – Barack Obama

In Continetti’s view, Spock was some kind of peacenik hippie, always too eager to use his level head and logic to negotiate out of rough situations. He suggests that Spock’s willingness to constantly negotiate with the Federation’s enemies made him weak, not unlike a certain American president currently in talks with Iran.

Continetti’s rant is amusing to be sure, but it got me thinking. How come it took Obama’s praise of the Spock character to get conservatives to hate something on Star Trek? If you look close enough, there are heaps of reasons for conservatives to loathe Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future and it has little to do with our Commander in Chief.

If I had a chance to create my own Utopia, Earth in the Star Trek Universe is probably what I would base it on. It just so happens to be the opposite of what today’s conservative would want. Roddenberry essentially created a progressive paradise.

No Money or Capitalism

“You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard

While it’s certain that money exists in some fashion in the Star Trek Universe (mostly outside the Federation), it has been suggested on multiple occasions that money on Earth went the way of the dinosaur.

We can only assume that without money, there is no capitalism. No 1%, no 99%, no classes, no greedy corporations, perhaps no corporations at all. Everyone on equal footing. It’s safe to say that without capitalism, humans gravitated to some kind of money-less socialist system.

If there was a plausible way to accomplish this type of system tomorrow, where no one is wealthy, but no one goes hungry, it wouldn’t pass the Republican controlled Congress in a million years. Just imagine what life would be like if money wasn’t a driving force in our lives. I’d guess conservatives would dismiss the idea as impossible.

A Society led by Science

“In the 24th century there will be no hunger, there will be no greed, and all the children will know how to read.” – Gene Roddenberry

The irony of a race of people relying on logic must be completely lost on some conservatives. However, if you told them about the possibility of a society led by science and exploration rather than religion and war, their heads might explode.

That’s not to say the people of the 23rd and 24th century don’t believe in god, and it’s not to say that some humans don’t like a good war. But one is no longer caused by the other, at least not on earth.

Science and development is what drives humanity, God is an afterthought. Humans no longer allow religion to cloud their judgement when it comes to research, conflict, and matters of urgency. Imagine a world where people didn’t oppose stem cell research or deny that humans are causing global warming based on a mythical book.

While Star Trek may have focused more on science than religion, it also showcased religious tolerance, multiculturalism, non-violent resolutions to conflict and a prime directive that forbid the federation from engaging with other cultures. These are all things that conservatives have been known to have a problem with.

In the end, while Star Trek can be chalked up as simple science fiction, Roddenberry’s vision should be taken seriously if we are ever to come close to achieving it. To do so however, would require a vast amount of change on our part. Something conservatives have never been willing to do, it’s in their very name.

“Perhaps we’ve never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there’s no sign of intelligent life.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

ISIS is Destroying History (Literally!)

Posted by on Sunday, March 1, 2015 · 1 Comment

In an attempt to provoke a western response, ISIS has declared war on ancient history

ISIS is destroying historyISIS has proven itself to be, perhaps, the most comic-book ideal of a terrorist group I have seen to date. They spare no expense in time or money to make themselves appear barbaric and stylish in their campaign of destruction. Recently this includes an incident in which ISIS militants were smashing priceless ancient artifacts in the city of Mosul.

In ISIS’s attempt to re-create their “Caliphate”, they have set out on a campaign to eliminate all things “non-Islamic” across the parts of Syria and Iraq they control. Part of this program has been a systematic destruction of priceless artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, which was recently taped and distributed by ISIS on social media.

The video takes place in a museum in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and for me it was hard to watch. These artifacts are irreplaceable, some well over 3,000 years old. To put it in context, some of the items destroyed by ISIS are older than the oldest books of the Bible (and much older than the Koran). Mesopotamia is also the famed “Cradle of Civilization,” so studying from those artifacts has revealed much about many key developments of civilization.

As a student of history, watching the senseless destruction of those priceless artifacts made me sick. The history that has been destroyed by ISIS goons is heartbreaking, let alone the myriad of other atrocities and violations of human decency they have committed. Any and all culture and history that does not fit their radical narrative is to be destroyed. If ISIS ever took over Egypt, I bet they would destroy the Sphinx and the Pyramids too.

The madness perpetrated by ISIS is not new. This act is reminiscent of terror tactics, such as book burnings, done by dictatorships in the past. The book burnings of the Fascists in Europe perhaps come to mind. The object is to destroy everything that does not conform to the narrative. While committing these acts of vain destruction, though, ISIS merely forces us to take them less seriously.

Clearly these acts, while an affront to all decency, are there mainly as provocations. The object of the destruction of the artifacts in Mosul and elsewhere is both to erase non-conformed history and to provoke the West and wider region to attack them. Nothing gets ISIS more recruits like more war.

There is a method to the madness. While many acts of ISIS seem unnecessarily cruel and without purpose, there is a line of reasoning. ISIS is fueled by war, especially war against the “infidels.” One of the main reasons for being so outwardly brutal is to draw in Western and regional powers to fight them, to give ISIS the “Holy War” it so desperately wants.

While I deplore what ISIS has done to priceless pieces of history in Iraq, I also understand that this is only a strategy to provoke more violent reactions. While ISIS may have a method to its madness, giving in to that method only proves its effectiveness. We shouldn’t combat ISIS on their terms, but on ours.

The big elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about

republican victories in state capitolsI’ve begun to notice a trend that seems to have escaped most political news coverage in recent years. Since 2010, Republicans have made massive inroads in state legislative chambers and governors’ mansions across the country. This is especially true after the most recent elections in November.

While most mainstream media coverage was focused on the partisan battle for control of the Senate, the GOP made massive gains in state legislatures in all regions of the country. The motions of statehouse politics might not be as sexy or headline-grabbing as the constant drama seen in D.C. in recent years, it is arguably more consequential for American politics in the long-run.

According to Ballotpedia, Republicans now control a significant majority of state governments across the country. Of the 98 partisan legislative chambers in the United States (a number which excludes Nebraska’s nonpartisan unicameral legislature), Republicans now control 67.

republican victories in state capitols

In terms of governorships, Republicans are in charge of 32 after the 2014 election, leaving Democrats in control of only 18. Most strikingly, these numbers mean that Republicans have control of both legislative chambers and governorships (a “trifecta,” as described in the image on the right) in 23 states, whereas Democrats have complete control of just 7 states.

This significant Republican advantage at the state-level poses serious long-term problems for the Democratic Party’s ability to compete in future elections. Unless Democrats engage in serious efforts to reinvigorate themselves in state and local elections, they may well find themselves trapped in a world where they can only compete effectively for the White House.

While the presidency is an undeniably powerful office, it is of little use when the other levels of government are out of your hands. If Republicans continue to control one or both Houses of Congress or a significant majority of state governments, Democrats may one day be locked in the Oval Office as if it were a prison cell.

Some see a trend that will favor the Republican Party for decades to come. I am hesitant to endorse such a pessimistic vision of the Democratic Party’s future, but I am also significantly less bullish than many liberal activists seem to be. If they are to continue to compete as a viable national party, Democrats must remember that there is much more to effectively controlling the country’s political machinery than just winning the presidency every four years.

There are a number of benefits that these Republican successes grant the Party. Most obviously, it gives them a substantial head-start on using the lower levels of government as laboratories for their preferred policy issues which they will likely one day try to bring up to the national level.

Examples of such policies have already been on display in recent years. One need only look to the current budgetary debacle in Kansas created by Governor Sam Brownback or the kerfuffle over union bargaining rights started by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin for illustrations of what is likely to come if the GOP makes further gains at the national level.

Another benefit is the deep bench of experienced political operatives that the GOP currently has. With so many new conservative politicians entering the ranks of state legislatures, the Democrats will find themselves powerless to stop an emerging experience gap between their legislators and those aligned with the GOP.

This numerical superiority in experienced legislators will give the Republicans a major advantage in picking candidates for national races while Democrats are left to pick through the aging scraps of their ranks. This dynamic will only serve to accelerate a vicious cycle in which the GOP’s advantage at these lower levels of government reinforces itself and produces an even greater crop of potential national candidates for years to come.

republican victories in state capitols

One final effect of their growing control over state governments is the GOP’s ability to redraw district lines to favor their own congressional candidates. State legislatures are responsible for drawing congressional district in most states, so the party that controls them can choose the voters they want to represent.

Prior to the 2010 elections, the Republicans put a massive amount of resources into their state-level electoral efforts with the knowledge that the 2010 Census was a brilliant opportunity to seize the reins of the House of Representatives. This gerrymandering provided the GOP with a fundamental electoral advantage that undeniably contributed to their successes in congressional elections in 2012 and 2014.

I have seen the adverse effects of one-party dominance firsthand during my work in the 2014 midterm election cycle. When one party takes total control of the levers of power in a state, officeholders often find themselves tempted to alter electoral rules and regulations to favor their own party.

A prime example of such gross partisan manipulation can be seen clearly in my own home state of Kansas. Our current Secretary of State, the infamous Kris Kobach, is currently attempting to change electoral rules to allow straight-ticket party voting and impose further difficulties for people attempting to register to vote or cast their ballots.

It may be too late for the Democratic Party to halt the coming GOP wave that appears only to grow with each new election. 2016 is likely to favor the Democrats in the Senate and the presidency given the Party’s coalitional advantage in presidential election years and that more Republican Senate seats will be up for grabs than was the case in 2014.

Until Democrats invest in state and local party building in the way that Republicans have in recent years, however, they will likely find themselves locked out of state legislatures and, consequently, the House of Representatives, for many years to come. And unless they can do so and see measurable results before 2020 when the next Census occurs, the GOP will be able to lock in the gerrymandered congressional advantage that they currently enjoy until at least 2030.

I don’t have much hope that they will do so in time.

The Truth about Personhood Bills

The consequences of personhood bills will go far beyond the abortion issue

personhood-movementI have seen the term Personhood when politicians are talking about certain bills or amendments. My understanding was that these bills were about protecting a fetus as a live person. They include birth control, the morning after pill, IUD’s and abortion.

Oh, nothing about condoms, by the way. Or Viagra, male enhancement devices and/or pills, or anything applying to men at all. Once again, the right-wing Christian establishment (which is male-dominated) is trying to remain in control of the uterus of the American female. Not to mention that this would include letting women die during childbirth and determining what or what does not constitute the cause of a miscarriage.

I mean, hey, they’re just women, right? What do they know about being a woman? Silly women, listen to your men, like it’s supposed to be.

The House of Representatives tried to jam through a Personhood bill in July of 2012 and it failed. So now State Personhood bills are pushing to get through harder than ever. The definition of personhood, incidentally, is “The quality or condition of being an individual person.”

Since this term became used over and over, I’ve been considering it more and more. I’ve read stories about women arrested because something happened out of their control to an unborn child. Yes, including miscarriages. I don’t plan on having anymore children so it doesn’t apply to me personally, but it’s alarming that Personhood bills are gaining such traction. I feel very sorry for pregnant women, especially those that struggled to conceive.

That raised more questions. What about in-vitro fertilization? What about parents who are trying to have a child and need fertility treatments? Frozen fertilized eggs obviously aren’t living and breathing humans but would a personhood law forbid this medical technology? According to many politicians, again, mostly males, yes.

I came across a website called Resolve.org while preparing for this story. This organization protects the rights of parents who are desperately trying to conceive but need medical intervention. The Resolve organization watches for these reckless bills state by state and fights against them.

The mission statement on their site reads: “The National Infertility Association, established in 1974, is a non-profit organization with the only established, nationwide network mandated to promote reproductive health and to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders.”

personhood-map-0521So far, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, and New York have bills, not yet laws, that protect fertility treatments. Resolve.org supports these bills. Minnesota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, however, have bills that Resolve.org opposes. New Jersey and Virginia have bills that Resolve.org is still reviewing.

In California alone, 858,579 women, regardless of marital status, have experienced physical difficulty in getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to live birth. Is there a law requiring insurance coverage for fertility treatments, also known as an insurance mandate? Yes! Hopefully, more states will follow California’s lead on this issue.

This brings us to stem cell research, another issue Personhood bills dishearteningly concern themselves with. This research is so very important and uses extra in-vitro eggs that a couple may have not used. It’s harmless. Personhood bills take up the case of these frozen eggs, as apparently they cannot speak for themselves. Ridiculous as this may seem, these bills use this premise to put pressure on the state to shut down stem cell research.

The dissolution of stem cell research would be disastrous and heart breaking to thousands of individuals. It would cause researchers to leave states where these Personhood bills become law. And it’s all based on a misunderstanding or denial of the science involved. Scientific advancement, parental dreams, jobs, and economic growth, all dashed over ignorance.

According to Bruce Olwin of the University of Colorado, “Alienating an entire contingent of researchers would have dire consequences on America’s ability to compete globally in the field. Because of the overarching intrusion of religion and politics on science, I think it’s going to drive the United States into a Third World science country. We will not be anywhere near the leaders.”

Bernard Siegel, the founder and director of the Genetics Policy Institute, agrees that the Personhood movement represents a potentially major setback.

“Microscopic cells in a lab dish, that by a couple’s decision will never be implanted in a womb, should not be defined as ‘people,’” Siegel said. “Any state aspiring to become a center for biomedical research and biotechnology should not touch a Personhood bill with a 10-foot pole.”

The prime motivation for Personhood bills are religious beliefs. Those that forward such legislation think that a frozen egg is a person. It’s beyond ridiculous, yet it’s advancing along nevertheless.

If a physician is fertilizing an egg in a laboratory for a couple, and the egg is destroyed, is the physician a murderer? No, of course not. That egg is not a person. But according to Personhood bills, it is a person. It’s insanity. By that very same logic, masturbation is mass murder.

In closing, it seems so odd and hypocritical that politicians such as Rand Paul believe that parents should be able to opt out of vaccine mandates but support theseinsane bills. I implore you to visit the Resolve.org website. See for yourself what they stand for.

There is a wealth of information about this, and more Americans need to become aware of the unrecognized and disastrous consequences of this type of legislation. The rapid expansion of state level Personhood bills is sobering, to say the least. The United States must not ever pass laws such as these. Those who advocate doing so absolutely do not have our best interests at heart.

Prison Inequality: Women and Race

Posted by on Saturday, January 31, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Gender inequality isn’t limited to wages, it’s also alive and well in our justice system

Prison InequalityWith all the news in the past few months stirring up racial hostilities and strong emotions, I cannot help but ponder the racial/ethnic issue from a different but relevant viewpoint. I have long considered myself a feminist, although I suppose feminist women would say I am a feminist-supporter. I always find myself considering issues that women encounter, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Rather than focus on the media events these last few months, I want to bring up what I consider a serious issue of social inequality. It is statistically recognizable that women and minorities experience blatant social inequality in our judicial system, perhaps more so than outside of that system.

I wonder if you are aware that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 2.2 million people in prison or jails, and 4,781,300 people were on probation or parole in 2012, for a total of 6,937,600 people in America under some form of criminal justice supervision. I imagine one may see this as a good thing, but I’m not one of those people. But I’ll leave that rant for another day.

Here I want to talk about two specific (and overlapping) groups of people in those numbers, and I believe it is important to understand the social aspects of the U.S. judicial system. One sociological perspective stresses “just as the social classes differ in opportunities for income and education, so they differ in opportunities for crimes.” I believe the same is true for women and racial minorities when it comes to crimes, and the severity of punishment of those crimes.

As well, I believe women and racial minorities experience obvious, and inexcusable, inequalities compared to whites during their incarceration, as well as subsequently in their lives after confinement, under the supervision of the judicial system, including those on parole and probation.

I don’t want to bore anyone with lots of numbers and statistics, although I think it is imperative that I share just a few to corroborate the accusations of injustice and inequality I am making.

Prison InequalityAccording to The Sentencing Project, in their fact sheet on Incarcerated Women, about 200,000 women were serving sentences in 2012, and more than 1 million were under the supervision of the criminal justice system, which included those on parole and probation. They also state that with the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for women being 1 in 56, it varies significantly with race. It becomes 1 in 19 for African American women, 1 in 46 for Hispanic and 1 in 118 for white women.

The website continues with more statistics, including in 2011, black women were incarcerated at 2.5 times the rate of white women and Hispanic women at 1.4 times the rate of white women. As a study by Sandu and associates asserts “So a Black female offender is more likely to be incarcerated rather than placed on probation, as compared to her White counterpart, and also more likely to be incarcerated as compared to her male counterpart. Both her gender and her race seem to work against her.”

I hope you don’t get bored quite yet. There’s a reason I’m sharing this next set of statistics, and I think it’s important you understand why I think the way I do. Perhaps you might open your mind to seeing it from my perspective for just a few moments.

Data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections by a Special Task Force regarding the characteristics of female prisoners revealed the following:

  • 30% don’t have high school diploma or GED
  • 81% have children
  • 25% are married
  • 71% had been in an abusive relationship
  • 48% had received social assistance
  • 75% were incarcerated for drug and non-violent crimes
  • 50% of the women have history of, or exhibit symptoms of mental illness, twice the rate of men
  • Of those with mental illness, 68.3% were incarcerated for drugs or non-violent crimes

What this suggests to me is that women may require more positive social support beforethey resort to committing crimes. Over 2/3 were in abusive relationships, and we can imagine that they likely turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with it. Only 1 out of 4 were married, but 4 out of 5 had children. This suggests to me that many unwed mothers trying to support themselves and their children turned to illegal acts to compensate and/or cope.

How about the fact that half of these women have or have had history with mental illness, but where was the critical help for them before they ended up in prison? One paper written about Oklahoma’s drug & alcohol treatment states “Only a small portion of [prevention and treatment] programs serve females… it appears that gender-specific treatment, while potentially beneficial to women in need, is lagging behind.”

Better social support for women is essential in this country. Wages need equalizing, and domestic abuse needs more severe penalties for those men who serve only to demean their women and force them to turn to alternative situations, many times illegal activities, to cope. For women, better educational support, substance abuse support, and enforcement of child support are all critical issues that need addressed.

The judicial system needs an overhaul, and there needs to be more equality in sentencing, not only concerning gender and race, but with social classes, such as the “white collar crimes” with their lenient 6-months sentences, and the poor person’s crime with sentencing of years in prison.

It is clear that we, as a nation, have a further need to improve on gender and racial considerations, and we need to begin bridging the gap of inequality within all of society, including with incarcerated men and women.