i am currently watching the black power mixtape 1967-1975, which is worth it just for the footage of stokley carmichael interviewing his mom, and our nation’s mama’s boy strombo’s haiti special. i have to shout out spike lee‘s works on katrina, and as i set up this book that eventually brought us to the wire, i have to pause for minute for the parallels. toronto and its library are the reason that i’m here (current stats: checked out-50, available for pickup-3, outstanding holds-10) and i crumble under the pressure a bit today and have made the decision not to beat a dead horse. unlike the (few) books that i’ve had to fire in the first 30 pages (i read 50 pages in half an hour, i’m pretty sure how i feel after the first 30), i only read up to p368-i guess i ended up lying to that dood at the tranzac on NYE that asked me, “are you going to read it all?” sorry, homie.
“Thirty years after its inception, the drug war in cities such as Baltimore has become an absurdist nightmare, a statistical charade with no other purpose than to placate a public that wants drug trafficking attacked and vanquished-but not, of course, at the price it would actually cost to accomplish such an incredible feat. In Maryland such cognitive dissonance translates to a state prison system that can manage a total of just over 20,000 prison beds for prisoners convicted of every act against the criminal code in Baltimore and twenty-three other counties. Yet in Baltimore alone there are between 15,000 and 20,000 arrests each year for drug violations, and in all of Maryland’s jurisdictions, more than 35,000 are charged every year with drug sales or possession.
Build more prisons, you say? How many more? Five? Ten? Keep in mind that Maryland is no slacker when it comes to locking people up; the state ranks tenth nationally in its rate of incarceration. You could bankrupt the state government by doubling the existing prison space and still there wouldn’t be enough space to house the estimated 50,000 heroin and cocaine users in Baltimore, not to mention the rest of Maryland. And that leaves no room for those priority cases who just happen to be convicted of murder or rape or armed robbery. Moreover, the construction of a prison is only the preamble; what inevitably follows is the financial drain of staffing the place, of feeding and clothing the prisoners, of maintaining security standards, of running a medical program that the U.S. Supreme Court says must correspond to outside community standards for health care. Soon enough, you’re spending more to lock a man down that it would cost to enroll him at Harvard.” (161)