How would Martin Luther King feel if he were still alive today? Barack Obama may be President, but for millions of black Americans life is shockingly deprived: a black man today is more likely to be imprisoned than in apartheid South Africa.
The mass imprisonment of black people in America today has been described as “The New Jim Crow”. Blacks account for 13 per cent of drug users, but 37 per cent of defendants. They receive sentences that are 20 per cent longer than white men for identical crimes. And, while there is little medical difference in the effects of crack and powder cocaine, crack, traditionally associated with black people, has a federal penalty 18 times greater. So it’s little surprise thatone in every three black men go to prison over their lifetimes. And punishment doesn’t end at the prison gates, as former felons lose access to housing and other benefits of citizenship upon their release.