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Being Black In America, A Look at Juvenile Offenders And The Unjust Judicial System

Updated on April 22, 2017
Juliet Stewart profile image

Juliet Austin- Holds an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from E.S.U., she spends her time with her dog's, Heckel and Jeckel.

Can you Hear me

(For the sake of this Article, the term Black and African American will be used interchangeably).

A lot of People will be angry with my writing, you will question my logic, my Ethnicity, and will label me an Uncle Tom, why? Because you won't read to understand. You will instead read to pick at keywords, or just to be able to say: See she needs to know her Culture. In reality, I neither back away from the fact that I am of African Descent nor do I have to deny my heritage; I am Jamaican, proud to be, proud of the many cultures that make me who I am Today.

I am not nor am I willing to be defined by my skin color! I am simply Human, think about that for a while let it sink in... Every Country except for the United States defines their People based on Location, or more importantly the Country in which they were born.

That is one of the factors that led Martin Luther King to love Jamaica we were not defined by skin tones, but by basis of being Human. Our Country which once saw slaves was held in High regard, for its ability to come together, a Nation of People who defied stereotype and existed as one Nation. We were born from Many different Cultures, hence the Motto, "Out Of Many, One People". Key word being "People".

Definition of People

  1. The mass of ordinary persons; the populace.

  2. A body of persons living in the same country under one national government; a nationality.

We embraced those Cultures, not until recently have we seen a shift in Jamaicans defining themselves by Color, it is how the slave owners saw us, so why then as intelligent People would you accept that which is a stereotype-laced with negativity to identify yourselves?

Our Children are confused, and ashamed of the color of their skins, why? Because of the stereotype being black has carried with it since Slavery.

The Generational Cycle of Oppressive Behavior

  1. Black American, whoever came up with the idea that it is socially acceptable to label someone by Color; then force a Population to accept that description as being Politically correct knows a thing or two about Psychological Warfare. Historically, the use of color to identify was done to negatively stigmatize, and further subjugate, to divide and separate.

For about three hundred Years the stigma associated with being black is one a segment of the population has fought to rid himself /herself of, yet we use this descriptive term for self-identification. We have been so brainwashed into thinking we must accept this mold that Society has placed us in, and we use the term willingly.

I am neither Black nor am I American, I am of African Descent, however, I was born on the Island of Jamaica, which makes me by virtue of birth Jamaican. Yet I have been forced to accept this Label, as most of us of African descent residing in America has had to. What Being Labeled as Black does to me is leave me with a sense of shame and a feeling of being less than; As it does for most People with my Genetic makeup. I'm not allowed the pride in choosing Jamaican. Like any other Immigrant love and pride in our place of Birth is something a few of us would like to keep. I love America, it has given me opportunities, however, defining myself and being forced to say Black American. Is not acceptable, America's exclusionary tactics based on skin tone is not one that's agreeable to a majority of its own Population.

Most African Americans, or the Political flavor of the Day, (Black's), will give voice to the label as being how they would like to be identified, ask them why and they always revert to pride in Heritage. They have been so programmed to accept this Title that they have found a way to ratify it in their minds that this segregationist tactic is actually a great thing. The posturing and attempt at false bravado to accept their lot in Life is really a coping mechanism used by most of us to deflect the hurt pain and denigration one feels at being labeled. The legacy black People have been left with is segregation through alienation, joblessness, residence in impoverished areas, which lends itself to Lack of Education, violence, and other Social Problems such as Teen Pregnancy, Mental and Physical illness, Suicide and crime leading to incarceration.


The Psychology Behind Division by Color

Yes, Black is a beautiful color, used the right way can add drama and is eye catching in its appeal. It's slimming and is considered elegant. If we are discussing Interior design and clothes.

But What About Skin Color?

It is important to note, that since the start of Slavery; Historically the color code black and white has helped to inflict racism, discrimination, and injustice. There has always been a negative connotation to being black. Using the term to describe a Population of People is to segregate and make more identifiable as unworthy. It castigates emotionally, leaving a segment of the Population, fighting to lift themselves up from the negative stereotype.

It is a castration of sort of a group of People from mainstream Society by first ensuring that the label is seen as negative, then using it to identify them. The implication of such action is that Black Men and Women are lower Socially, Economically, and Educationally. Being tied to a Color Label unknowingly, we are always fighting against the implications. It's Psychologically damaging.

Let me put this in lay terms so understanding perhaps will prevail. We all know the definition I'm going to assume of the words. Lazy, no good, bad, aggressive, violent, something to fear. These terms were and still are used to Identify Black People.

While White is synonymous with: Purity, goodness, Angelic, beautiful.

That is how the slave traders and slave owners viewed Black People, then with that fear and hate, drummed into African's Daily. They used it to identify us while teaching their offspring's to fear anyone black. Still Today, black is synonymous with negativity; that Is the heaviest burden for any Child to carry. They learn these lessons Daily, they hear it in the Textbooks in School while Learning about History. This in itself, is a repetitive cycle of taught self-loathing assimilated to the word Black. We the black populace, then continue the cycle by insisting that our Children identify with the term we have been left with. This carry over from the Day's of slavery and the stigma attached defines us as a People. Then we Parent's push them out the door and tell them now; you lazy, no good, bad, aggressive, violent, something to fear Child, go out into Society and pave your way among the People taught to fear and hate you.


The Definition of Beauty and Using Reverse Psychology

"I'm black and I'm Proud; say it loud"!

In the 1960's, "Black is Beautiful, Black Pride,and Black Power" a call to action these identifiers were used as Reverse Psychology,(Reverse psychology refers to advocating or believing that the desired behavior can be changed to the one expected or desired; a motivational tool to cause to act in the desired way ). Malcolm X used the identifier, to help to motivate People to action, in order to enable them to learn to live with the color separation that was present during the Pre or Post-Civil Rights. He found that People responded positively when they were able to use the negative identifier, the segregationist tool, to motivate. This, however, is not the 1960's, and the need for further acceptance as part of mainstream Society is evident. We are more Educated, more knowledgeable I would hope, to realize that back then, the Black movement was needed to inspire People to fight for their rightful place in Society.

Understanding the Black Male

To eviscerate the shame the title of being black our young Men more so than Women, will be overly cocky: arrogant, seen as self-appreciating, in other words, posturing.

Posturing - The word posturing although not defined by me; as it pertains to the Social implications it is so coined as my Theory, The different indicators as it relates to posturing, Aggressive/Defensive, Argumentative, Pride/Arrogance, are mine as developed for Social identifiers; any use of its implications whether in video or written form should adhere to Copyright Laws.

The Webster's online Dictionary defines Posturing as A characteristic way of bearing one's body; carriage. Our body language for the sake of this article. At a young age, Blacks have adopted a certain stance when faced with any authority figure, again stemming back to the Day's of slavery when the black Male arrogantly defied the slave traders and owners. It's a lesson carried through to each Generation. Our Pride in our ability, and accomplishment, or lack of accomplishment it matters little, we adapt the attitude of "never let them see you sweat, or never show fear".


Types of Posturing

Aggressive/Defensive: Often times associated with a scowl, arms crossed, tense posture, if at the sides hands will be closed- fisted giving the impression that the Black Male is ready to engage in battle. This misleading stance will often land the individual in trouble with the Law, or Authority figure. What needs to be understood is that not in the majority of cases is it a result of readiness to fight.

Argumentative: The aggressive defensive stance goes hand in hand with what in all appearances is the Black Male verbally abusive or angry, the loud voice, or show of verbal force, is a cry for understanding, to de-escalate the situation, all that is required is to allow the Individual the opportunity to talk or explain the situation. It tells the Black Male that they are respected as Human beings and that their voices and what they have to say matters.

Pride/Arrogance: Often times the Black Male to defraying the stereotype will seem arrogant without any attempt at violence. The stance is similar to Aggressive Defensive, with the exception the body language will be less guarded, arms though crossed will be loosely done and arms at the side will normally be in a pant pocket, or held loosely at the sides. This is more normal in the Male Population that are highly Educated and have assimilated within mainstream Society.

Pride/Arrogance can escalate to Argumentative, and aggressive Defensive, however, if the Black Male is spoken to in a dismissive, or disrespectful manner.

To understand the mindset and Psychology behind the feelings one has to revert to the Histrionics of Slavery and the de-humanizing of a group of People based on color. Often times this posturing can and does land young Black Male or Female in trouble, as most authority figures, especially in the Caucasian community misinterprets posturing as one of resistance, anger or unwillingness to follow rules; Instead of what it really is a coping strategy, to avoid embarrassment, the only control Blacks Men and Women feel they have is control over..., emotions.

How Racist are You

Society Fears What it Does not Understand

Truth needs to be addressed in order that understanding may ensue. Every Culture handles situations differently. The way we are raised, and Family beliefs, dictates how we view the World at large.

Each Culture will have a different reaction to the same situation, sadly this causes confusion and misunderstanding within the Community. Even Intra Communities will have a misunderstanding at times.

Being of African Descent should be a uniting force for all black People of African Descent, unfortunately, that is not the case, being Jamaican I'm still viewed as an outsider by African American's. Our cultures are different, the similarities though they transcend racial lines, are few. We cannot understand their struggles, According to a Friend who is African American, Our People cannot understand the struggles, we didn't suffer enough. As I pointed out to a fellow Author of "The Real Truth About Being Black In America" the same slave ship that brought my ancestors to Jamaica were the same ones that brought his to America. We are Black, we share similar genetic makeup all Africans by virtue of ancestry.

Generational Identity Crisis, (as coined and defined by me): As Society progresses and becomes more knowledgeable, the same standards by which we developed understanding and identity, also changes.

Young People Today are more likely than the previous generation, to trace and become aware of their Genealogy. It is simply the need to identify with a more positive influence, but still being demoralized and defined by Societies definition of Self, based solely on Color, and the shame attributed to Slavery. It is the deep-seated need to be identified as more than ancestors of Slaves.

I once wrote an article, Titled "Slavery is not where our History began, it is our story interrupted". As our youth becomes more intellectually advanced, and the information technology advances, they are able to find and document positive inspiring tales of Africans, and African Americans whom, have led the way to positive changes in Medicine, Science, Farming, music, and even simple comforts that People take for granted. The identity crisis comes into play, as they become aware of these positives, they are still being identified as ancestors of Slaves. That negative connotation that Slavery brings is still being highlighted in History books without really giving voice to the positive contributions.

History books used in most High Schools does not identify or give credence to the first successful Heart Transplant Doctor as being Black, nor does it say that Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton Gin, was black. Nor does it tell our young African descendants that Beethoven, and Mozart who contributed individually to great works of symphony, were of the black or mixed race. Still Today these two musical aficionado's, these prominent Men are portrayed, as being Caucasian.

What About the Disenfranchised

We often hear the term disenfranchised, such a tiny word that sum's up so many Social problems. Homelessness, lack of access to services mainstream Society take for granted. If a Child never has access to books, computers, proper Education, the Art's, to include Music, drama, painting etc., he/she is disenfranchised. It is not just about adequate housing, clothing and feeding physically, a well rounded Juvenile Society, needs a feeding of the mind and emotions, to ensure positive growth.

If we never relay the information to our young People the positive aspects of being of African descent, what they internalize is a feeling of worthlessness. More times than not, they stagnate, choosing to remain within their environment, If Society as a whole sees them as being a stereotype they conform without really realizing, that it is the shame of their origin, that keeps them from being prosperous. Such a simple thing as rewriting History to accurately portray truth Is denied because it would influence positively a segment of Society that it is in the best interest of Lawmaker to see non-progressive.

The Social implication Society is left with are our young African American's, living a negative stereotype, which often times results in them being imprisoned. To date, the rise in criminal activities gives voice to the need for our Leaders to see the Problem for what it really is. Identity crisis, and socioeconomic decline within the Black community.

I am in no way advocating for non-Punishment of criminals, as difficult as it may be for certain Populations to grasp, young People have a very fantasy-driven perception of reality. It is this reality that now leads them to the commission of crimes, (there is a perception and irrational beliefs that if they could just have more..., that they are entitled to a better, or more of everything bereft of hard work, discipline, and time invested). Want's at times overshadows needs and supersedes common decency and respect for fellow human beings, however, this is the true nature of Children; yes Children! Children, up to the age of 18 Years old are self-centered, this holds true for all Cultures, not just the black population. It is proven and documented fact, that Children who do not have access to a positive role model often times will end up in trouble with the Legal system at an early age, hence the increase in crimes. However, they are still just Children, some really too young to realize the implications of their actions, and what the punishment can be. In the case of Children charged as Adults, as with Adult Males, we see Black Children, Children of Color, are processed as Adults, more often than their Caucasian counterparts.

African Americans, comprise over 27 percent of the Population but are still disproportionately represented.

As Perpetrators, of violent crimes they are more likely than White Males to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated for same or similar crimes. This, unfortunately, is not only an American Problem, it's a Worldwide generational one. Although, America allows for Corporate greed, and the profiteering of investors off the backs of Children by privatizing Prisons. It is institutionalized slave trade, and it's done legally.



The Execution of George Stinney Jr.

Source

The First Black Child to be Charged as an Adult

In 1944 George Junius Stinney, Jr. lived in Alcolu, Clarendon County, South Carolina. The 14-year-old African-American boy lived with his father, George Stinney, Sr., mother Aime, brothers Charles, age 12, and John, age 17, and sisters Katherine, age 10, and Aime, age 7. George Sr. worked at the town's sawmill, and the family lived in housing provided by George Sr.'s employer. Alcolu was a small, working-class mill town, where white and black neighborhoods were separated by railroad tracks. The town was typical of small Southern towns of the time, with separate schools and churches for white and black residents, who rarely interacted.

The bodies of Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 8, were found in a ditch on the black side of Alcolu on March 23, 1944. They had been beaten with an improvised weapon variously reported as a piece of blunt metal or a railroad spike.The girls were last seen riding their bicycles looking for flowers. As they passed the Stinney property, they asked young George Stinney, and his sister, Aime, if they knew where to find "maypops", a local name for passionflowers. According to Aime, she was with George at the time of the murders.

When the girls did not return home, search parties were organized. George's father was among the searchers. The bodies of the girls were found the next morning, on the black side of town, in a ditch filled with muddy water. According to an article reported by the wire services on March 24, 1944, and published widely, with the mistake of the boy's name preserved, the sheriff announced the arrest and said that "George Junius" had confessed and led officers to "a hidden piece of iron." Both girls had suffered blunt force trauma to the face and head. Reports differed as to what kind of weapon had been used.According to a report by the medical examiner, these wounds had been "inflicted by a blunt instrument with a round head, about the size of a hammer." Both girls' skulls were punctured. The girls had not been sexually assaulted and their hymens were intact. The medical examiner reported the genitalia of the older girl were slightly bruised. (Wikipedia)

A Rise in Juvenile Incarceration Rate

Juvenile Violent Crime's Statistics

According to FBI Statistical information, the following statistic has been documented based on crimes committed, Police/Law enforcement and arrest records.

Every 25.3 seconds a Violent crime is committed

Murder- every 35.6 minutes

Rape- Every 6.2 Minutes

Robbery- Every 1.4 minutes

Assault- Every 0.5 seconds

This is the grim reality as it pertains to Juvenile crimes.


Definition of Juvenile: An Individual under the age of 18 Years old.

Cuts in Government Programs, such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Mental Health services, Education Programs along with Institutionalized racism, is behind the increase we see with Juvenile Offences. Since the 1980s we have seen a growth in the number of Juvenile Black Male in the Prison System. Although we can attribute much of it to an increase in the number of the Population. The truth is, as the Population increases, and programs to benefit the poor and Blacks decreases, there is a causality of rising crime rate. Traditionally, the crime involved petty theft, and domestic abuse, the crimes we are now privy to are more violent.

Violent Crimes includes Murder, Non-Negligent Manslaughter, Rape, Robbery, aggravated Assault. According to the Data compiled by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation,(FBI) in 2010, Young Black Men, specifically Juveniles ranging in age from (12 Years to 17 Years old) make up 26.8 percent of those indicted for a violent crime. since then we have seen an increase by 3% increase in Juvenile related violent crimes, and a decrease in Adult black Males commission of crimes. The increase can be attributed to a Generational identity crisis, as well as the change in Judicial Laws as it governs Juveniles being tried and incarcerated as Adults.

The Criminalization of Chidren

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. "Edmund Burke (1729- 1797)

Since 1997 the number of States in the U.S., allowed to charge Juveniles as adults has seen an increase. That number now stands at 27 States that has statutes that say Children in some cases as young as 10 Years old can be tried as Adults. These States with a statutory waiver signed by a Juvenile Court Judge can move a Juvenile case to Adult court based on how well a lawyer can argue intent, the ability of the Juvenile to determine right from wrong. Our youngest population have no voice, and in this, we must speak for them. By allowing this grave miscarriage to continue we are helping to allow for the criminalizing of Children, whom I suspect are forced to based on lack of proper supervision, abuse, neglect and other Mental, emotional, physical trauma that only they can understand; are forced at a young age to take up residence in an Adult prison population. Any Adult, whether a victim of or a parent of a Victim, who has experienced the heartbreak of that loss; can look at a Child of 10-15 Year's old and agree that that Child is responsible, and should be tried and condemned to Adult Jail, where rape and abuse is a part of the culture, and are perfectly okay with it really has no compassion, in my humble opinion.

"In South Carolina and 22 other states, there is no minimum age for a child to be tried as an adult in a murder case. Twenty-two states set a minimum age of 13 or older for a juvenile to be tried for murder as an adult; six other states do not allow it. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, in 1999 judges sent about 7,500 juvenile cases to (adult) criminal court". U.S. society punishes its most vulnerable: (19 February 2005) Kate Randall.

Each State has a provisional jurisdiction as it concerns the age of the Juvenile. beyond a certain age, Juvenile Court has no Jurisdiction over offenders. What that means is if a State considers an 8-Year-old as the cut off then the Criminal court has Jurisdiction the Child cannot be tried as a Juvenile and must be referred to Adult criminal Court.

States that Allow for Judicial Waiver

Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Dist. of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Vermont

Oklahoma- 7- to 14-year-old's, the State must prove that at the time of the act, the child knew it was wrong.

Washington- Children 8-12 years old were considered too young.


States and age at which Culpability can be assumed

12 Year Old's

Colorado, Missouri, Montana

13 Year Old

Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and Wyoming

14 Year Old's

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio Texas Utah and Virginia

15 Year Old's

New Mexico - In the case of New Mexico a Child is culpable and can be tried as an Adult with a waiver.

Prison for Profit Legalized Slavery

America has done a grave injustice to its Children, it is however not too late to reverse the cycle. Arguably if Capitalism sees itself at the head of the prison system. Imagine how much capital can be earned by building recreational facilities more group Facilities that sees itself producing future Scientists and Doctors. If America is the land of opportunities, of second chances, then who better can we justify service to if not our Young People. The profit margin would increase exponentially. Sadly that was not the intent, the intent was a mass genocide of Blacks, the economically disenfranchised, of People of color. It would cost the same amount numerically to build a rehabilitative Facility as it does to build a prison. But it would not yield an economic/monetary profit.

There is no more instance when we should lock young People up in Adult facilities the lies will not be tolerated anymore. People of my age and older those who own stock in the Prison System cannot live forever we need our Young People to continue the cycle. But that was already a foregone conclusion. Hence the reason for blacks and People of Color making up a disproportionately high percentage of the Prison Population Human Gentrification.

If you can look into the eyes of a Child, and with a conscience justify sending one to an Adult Prison. Then you are far more equipped than I to meet you reflectively. When I look into the eyes and soul of a Child I see innocence, not the innocence of action's perhaps but the innocence of the knowledge of repercussions. There is never a case when a Child should ever be made to serve time in an adult facility.

Gone is the time when young People were placed in Juvenile Facilities for crimes until the age of 18 Years. The State funded program seeing an increase in Juvenile crimes under the guise of inability to afford to build more Facilities or hiring the adequate amount of employees to shoulder the burden they sought investors. But the Government can always find money for Wars, to build walls and oil fields, for the injustice we have committed against our young People, I only hope they can forgive us.


Children for profit

As the U.S.A. sees a decrease in the Adult Male being incarcerated and a rise in the crime rate of Juveniles. There is a inferred or direct correlation between Juveniles in adult Prison and Capitalism.

Children Sentenced to Juvenile correctional Facilities are fortunate, they are allowed to attend School sometimes in the community depending on the severity of the crime. But because of the U.S.A. Strict laws governing work permit they are not allowed to work. They can, however, learn a Trade. In the Adult prison population, however, the Laws are different.


How are Investors Paid

In 1934 the US government UNICOR - (Under Nourished Inmates Crying Over Rights) implemented a system they hoped would reduce recidivism by equipping inmates with vocational training, to develop skills that would help inmates with transitioning back into everyday life. Now known as Federal Prison Industries., prisoners started to get paid a low wage to work (voluntarily) in penal factories manufacturing goods for the government.

For pennies on the dollar for what it would cost to have the product made outside the Prison System. Investors could market their products and yield a huge profit, really big.

Investments for a pound of Flesh: The following are some of the products and services made within the Prison System, State License Plates, Protective Gear for the Military, McDonalds Uniforms, Police issued ( duty belts, uniforms, target practice posters, and handcuff cases. Furniture and Microsoft packaging, Honda car parts, Dentures, Jeans from J.C.Pennys, Starbucks packaging Victoria Secrets Lingerie, They also work as call Center operators.

As a Society, it is within each of us to protest and charge the States to make them more accountable for their actions, the lives of our future generation depend on it. It is a genocide of our young black Men disguised as Justice. Social media has allowed us more access Nationally, to atrocities, we would not normally be privy to. We each exist in our little corner of the World blinders on as it relates to News reports. We, therefore, lacked the ability to process or recognizing that crimes against Juveniles within the Court system were being carried out on such a grand scale.

These criminal minded, emotionally bankrupt Adult's that allow for the incarceration of our Young People all in an attempt to line the pocket's of the Wealthy; should themselves be brought to justice and tried for pretenses at being Human. We must find more lucrative ways to help our children to achieve, by building better Schools, investing in after school programs, less jail's more goal-oriented programs.

One such emotionally bankrupt individual now seeks a seat in our Judiciary.


Black Flesh Peddled for Wealth

Jeff Sessions remember that name a cabinet pick by the grand "poohbah". is a morally despicable human dregs and a member of the swamp the worst "swamp thing" who should be denied a seat in any branch of Government, his policies are reprehensible and devoid of human conscience. Not only a proponent for voter Id Law suppression Jeff Sessions when given the opportunity to enact equitable sentencing laws as it relates to equal time for black crime as it relates to Caucasian crime (1-1) refused to affix his name to the fair sentencing act a bill introduced by Senator Durbin which basically tried to ensure that as it relates to equal sentencing for the criminalizing of drugs and misdemeanor crimes Blacks and Caucasians would receive the same sentence. Jeff Sessions declined and agreed to an (18-1) criminalization of Blacks. Senator Dick Durbin went on to request that Jeff Session affixes his name to a Letter exonerating prisoners who had fallen under the three strike rule for misdemeanor drug offenses Session refused and according to Dick Durbin implied Sessions sought to see the rise of the South.

"Jeff Sessions should be denied a seat, as it relates to Human rights" imposing unfair voter I.D laws in States that had no problems with voter fraud, he took away laws that would benefit the constituents and stated, "it was good for the South". Dick Durbin also goes on to say Session voted against crime victims, Women, LGBT, native Americans. "inconsistent with values of this country" - Dick Durbin, Senator (D)-Illinois


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