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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, August 11, 2023

I Visited the Men Who Live Behind Bars and Can’t Remember Where They Are

They Know What They Did. They’d Like You to Know Who They’ve Become.

This thing? “Yeah.” It’s just, it’s a camera. It also takes film. “Oh, all right, OK.” It’s a digital camera. “Yeah.” And this is a microphone. “Oh, OK. You know, I’ve been locked up for 40-some years. I didn’t know.” Go back to your time before coming here. “What is this?” That is — “Peach? Sparkling water, they don’t sell stuff like this here, never.” “When I got locked up, my twins were 8 months old. Whew, and that was the last time I saw them. I wrote them letters every week for the first 20 years I was here. And by this time, now they’re all adults. So I figure it’s time for me to stop trying.” “How could you take a 19-year-old person and just take the worst decision he ever made and hold him responsible for it for the rest of his entire life and not even consider that he may have changed?” “He was the thug on the streets 24, 25 years ago, and we’re angry at that person, not realizing that that person no longer exists. He actually hasn’t existed for, like, over 20 years.” These men are serving life sentences at Angola prison in Louisiana. They don’t have the possibility of parole. “I’m serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.” “First-degree murder.” “Second-degree murder and armed robbery.” “I’m serving a life sentence.” “A life sentence without parole.” “I was 18 when this crime happened.” “I was 17 years old.” “I was 18 at the time.” “I come here when I’m 17. I’m 80 years old now.” People who commit crimes should be held responsible. But how much punishment is enough for justice? As you listen to these men, ask yourself: Do they deserve a chance at redemption? “I had time to reflect and what my life would be if I had to stay here. And then I started noticing the need here of the people that was illiterate. So I said, OK, well, I could do some good here. So I started tutoring guys, and I started feeling a self-worth. I said, well, I could give something back like that, all the while still dealing with the fact that I took a life, an innocent life.” “If I happen to die here in prison, that’s not something that I want. But I have to think about and take under consideration I took another human’s life, a young man, Damian. I went to school with him. He still was somebody’s son. If I could go back in time and redo that, that would have never happened. It shouldn’t have happened.” In the U.S., there are more than 50,000 people serving life without parole, 70 percent of whom are Black. “If you come here young, well, prison provides. So you never have to be responsible if you don’t want to. It’s hard to mature in prison because prisons aren’t set up for you to bear the stress of responsibility and to grow from that. So you have to kind of seek it out your own.” With so many long sentences, America’s prison population is aging. Taxpayers spend about $70,000 to keep every elderly prisoner locked up every year. So Angola created a hospice program. Prisoners volunteer to take care of other prisoners, basically people convicted of murder caring for the dying. “It gave me a purpose. It gave me a purpose and showed me a different side, yeah, a compassionate side. And I probably sat with over 50 people to their death.” “Man, you know, I ain’t been to no man. But my first patient was a guy dying of AIDS. When I’m looking at him — a man weighing 60-something pounds, like, man, he can’t do nothing. So I have to pick him out of the bed, put him in the wheelchair. Bring him to the bathroom, help him, bathe him up, tease him, mess with him. But when I first was able to help a person, I just felt different.” “Excuse the expression, but they wash all up the crack of another man’s ass, all up under his nuts and all. It doesn’t care what nationality or race he is. Is that man faking? Hasn’t that man changed? He might have been a character when he got here. But this man has developed character. This man has developed compassion. It comes down to not so much what you have done. But what have you become?” Volunteering, mentoring, education, new experiences gave these men new purpose. “I got a diploma from Culinary Arts School from Baton Rouge Community College and three certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research. In the event that I ever went home, I could be an asset to society and not a liability. I prepare as if I’m going home tomorrow. Even though I have a life without parole, I try to prepare as if I’m going home tomorrow because who knows what might happen. I’d rather go prepared than go unprepared.” Do we really want to be a country where there’s no amount of growth that will ever give someone even a chance to leave prison, a country that’s fine with endless punishment but never with mercy? “That’s the worst part, knowing that I’m a changed man, knowing that I have the skills to go be a better person in society, knowing that I want to do better in society, and knowing that I can do better in society, and not having the opportunity to do that because I have a life sentence without parole. It’s hard. It’s hard.” But we have a solution. Second-look reforms would offer a chance at parole for those who have transformed themselves and who’ve already served a significant portion of their sentence. To be fair, there may be lifers who haven’t grown. But for the many who have, they deserve a second chance. “Ask yourself when you were 16, 17 years old, are you the same person? Do you even think the same way you do now? No, that’s human nature. People change.” “If rehabilitation is a process, there should be an end to it. There’s no, you get to a certain grade level, and there’s not high school, then college, and you can pursue undergraduate and then graduate studies. There’s none of that. It’s just a life sentence.” A few states have implemented changes in the criminal justice system, including second-look reforms. And some of these men have actually gotten out. But they are only a small fraction of those serving life without parole. Now if you’re concerned they might harm someone else, less than 3 percent of lifers who are released are rearrested. And when they are, it’s frequently for a technicality, not a violent crime. In other words, lengthy prison sentences don’t improve public safety. Over time, Americans could save billions of dollars if some of these older reformed men are set free. “I’ve been here longer than I’ve been with my family. So sometimes I question where I’m from. I’d be tempting to write my mama and them and say, if I die, leave me here. Don’t come get me. Don’t leave me with them. I don’t know them no more. Bury me with my friends.” “I know without a doubt I’m going home. If I die here, whether it’s tomorrow or, God forbid, 25 years from now, my body will not stay here. I’m leaving Angola. I’m not going to be buried here. Somebody who says, I want to be buried at Angola, that’s the saddest part of what a life sentence does to you.” “I make sure that my life is very purposeful. Every time I invest myself into someone else, I free a part of myself. A part of me will leave here with you. I’m going to love people so passionately until a part of me will always live outside of the gates of Angola.” “I’ve caught plenty of hell in this penitentiary.” [LAUGHING] “Whether or not, I hope I’ll be lucky enough to get out. I’d go somewhere and make me a living and start all over again. Yeah. They say, the older you get, the more you learn. Well, I’ve learned a lot of things, you understand, so.” 

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