Excerpt from the Covenant with Black America

The mass incarceration of black people in America is a real and present danger. About one in every 265 whites is incarcerated in local, state, or federal prison. By contrast, of the 36 million African Americans in this nation, almost one million of them are in prison; that is about one in every 36 black people who is behind bars somewhere in America. African Americans represent 44 percent of all incarcerated people in state and federal prison cells, yet account for only 12 percent of the American population. Something is clearly wrong when the government’s most effective affirmative action program is the preference people of color receive when entering not college, but the criminal justice system.

How did we get here? And, given the current trend, can we change direction?

Racial bias in our criminal justice system has many causes—historical, political, and economic—but we know that any solution to the growing crisis of mass black incarceration must begin with focusing on how our communities, especially our youth, are policed. Police are the entry point, the gatekeepers, of the criminal justice system.

Fortunately, there is a lot we already know about the type of change that needs to happen in policing and there’s a lot happening across the country that we can draw on—policies that encourage respectful, accountable policing in our communities.

-excerpt from Maya Harris’ essay in the Covenant with Black America

To read the rest of this essay, please click here to buy the book.

Organizations Advocating For Change

Break the Chains

The mission of Break the Chains (BTC) is to help build a national movement within communities of color to replace current punitive drug policies with policies that treat drug use and addiction as public health issues and promote compassion, racial justice and human rights. www.breakchains.org Its goals are to:

  • Seek to increase access to treatment outside of the criminal justice system and to promote a range of approaches that reduce the harms associated with drug abuse and addiction.
  • Reduce the racial disparity in drug law enforcement.
  • Reduce the level of substance abuse in the United States, particularly that within poor and marginalized communities.

Find out more about Break the Chains

Other organizations
Below are links to other organizations working to foster police accountability and community-centered policing. We will continue to add organizations, publications, and other resources to this list.

The Jamestown Project
Healthcare and Well-Being
Criminal Justice
Police Accountability
Affordable Neighborhoods
Rural Development
Economic Prosperity
Environmental Justice
Digital Divide
Advocating for Change
Youth Call To Action
Plan A Town Hall Meeting
Covenant Curricula
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