Why is America spending taxpayers’ $944m to incarcerate innocent blacks?

Michael Eli Dokosi December 10, 2019
Blacks are have a higher likelihood of being imprisoned. (Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP, File)

The love-hate relationship of America with its black population was ignited right from its early days.

Why was there need for Africans to be shipped to the U.S. in the first place?

There was a need for black man power when Native Americans proved not to have the stamina and the resilience for back-breaking plantation work. The whites themselves were aware they also lacked the stamina and hardiness that the Africans had. Whites who had come to the continent prior had seen the way of life of the Africans in their states and so knew they were the right folks for the job.

But to go about having the Africans execute the jobs in return for pay, the whites resorted to brute force by rather kidnapping locals or bribing local chieftains. Having secured men, women and babies from Africa, they legislated laws to serve them till death and even in that instance they continued to serve the family. When there was a baby, they per the rules were automatically enslaved continuing the steady supply of cheap labour.

When slavery was eventually outlawed by 1860-1880, slave owners faced the reality of not being able to operate their plantations without the labour of the Africans who were now African by ethnicity and American by geographic space.

Shrewdly, the former white slave owners and traders came up with sharecropping which paid so little that most of the freed slaves lived in penury.

With the emergence of industrial revolution and sharecropping no longer holding sway, prisons became the next frontier to get easy, cheap African labour. It became so big in the U.S.; it’s now labeled the Prison Industrial Complex.

We’ve heard of innocent black men and women who were incarcerated and serve sometimes 10 to 40 years only to be released after it is established they were innocent years later. In a good number of the cases, they get nothing or little by way of compensation while their lives get ruined. The not so lucky endure execution for a crime not committed.

Thousands of black men in the United States are behind bars with the American citizens paying hundreds of millions for their incarceration through taxes. According to the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE), since 1989, 2,515 men and women have been exonerated after proving their innocence.

“Among all known exonerees, Americans have shelled out a staggering $4.12 billion to incarcerate innocent men and women since 1989, according to a Yahoo Finance analysis. That’s largely money spent on trials, and the cost of housing inmates in prison. According to the Bureau of Prisons, in the fiscal year 2017, the average cost to house a prisoner was over $36,000 a year in federal facilities.

“But black men make up the majority of those wrongfully convicted — approximately 49%. And since 1989, taxpayers have wasted $944 million to incarcerate black men and women that were later found to be innocent. That number climbs to $1.2 billion when including Hispanic men and women,” it concluded.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: December 10, 2019


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