Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

September 17, 2007 - Louisiana Weekly (LA)

Column: Jena 6: What Next To Erase This National Disgrace?

By Ron Walters, NNPA Columnist

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Unless you have been on vacation or otherwise under a rock, a case that is rocking Black America involves the racist conviction of six black youths, by an all-white jury, to the tune of potential 100-year sentences, while white youths were given the comparative leniency of in-school probation and non-prosecution for committing violent acts.

This legal lynching of six young Black students by officials in Jena, La. is not only a continuing manifestation of Southern justice, it is a symptom of a vicious period in American history now in existence emphasizing the use of the law to severely punish Blacks.

So, while there are justified mobilizations taking place around the Jena 6 injustice, the heat of the Black community, activists, officials, church leaders, all, should be directed toward the changes in the law that have made these injustices easier to perpetrate by local criminal justice officials.

Recent data from the Department of Justice indicates that 5 percent of Black males are incarcerated; 0.7 percent of white males; 11 percent of Black men 25-34. Moreover, in twelve states, between 10 and 15 percent of adult Black men are incarcerated and they are incarcerated at rates between 12 and 16 times greater than those of white men.

There desperately needs to be a change in the laws promulgated during the era of the "war on drugs" that have greased the wheels of the criminal system that have focused the heavy weapons of targeted policing, ineffective legal defense, and police corruption to affect the disproportionate convictions of Blacks.

Mandatory minimum sentencing drug guidelines like the Rockefeller Drug laws, "three-strikes and you're out," etc. -- all of these devices are instruments of the problem creating run-away incarceration. They should be repealed!

On vacation recently in West Palm Beach, Florida I noticed that in a smaller section known as Riviera Beach that was predominantly Black. the local newspaper carried a story about police there attempting to reduce the crime rate by focusing on gang-busting tactics. The police used "no-tolerance" measures to stop drivers for any infraction, such as not coming to a full stop at a light, not wearing seat-belts, etc., as a pretext to search their vehicles. And by the end of June 2007, while, 1,879 people were arrested, only 10 confirmed gang members were in that number, where 330 autos were also impounded.

Meanwhile, no targeted policing was occurring in the plush cocaine alleys of affluent Palm Beach or other areas. We need laws to establish a prohibition against such "targeted policing" that is racially discriminatory and amounts to racial profiling.

Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6, was prosecuted as an adult and assigned a public defender who never called any witnesses. This situation is also common and reports indicate that this practice of adult prosecution and incarceration of youths is out of control.

In six states, Black youth under age 18 are incarcerated in adult facilities at rates between 12 and 25 times greater than those of white youth. And they can be prosecuted and incarcerated for either non-violent or violent offenses, contrary to clear evidence in recent Zogby poll that 68 percent of the public opposes the practice.

So laws must be passed that outlaw this practice -- that the evidence shows has not deterred youth crime -- and return the administration of justice for youths to the juvenile system.

The Justice Department sent representatives to participate in a community forum in Jena and the Black attorney proceeded to uphold all that local officials had done. This might have been anticipated, because of the strong tie to the Bush government.

On September 9, local officials broke ground on a $30 million detention facility, awarded them by the Department of Homeland Security.

We are coming up to the September 20 sentencing of Mychal Bell by the Louisiana authorities who have recently reduced his conviction to something they may be able to prove in court.

The Congressional Black Caucus is the weekend of September 26. Much will be made of the result of the sentencing at that gathering, but the offensive should carry on into the presidential election and result in overturning the vicious and racist legislation that this case reflects.

Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Center and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.

For more on the Sept. 20 Jena 6 Demonstartion, and Rally visit

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact