Van Jones, the Bay Area native from Oakland and host of CNN’s The Messy Truth, argues that the results of mass incarceration directly led to President Trump's victory. He argues that the country's prison system disadvantages the black community, which consistently supports Democratic candidates. Mr. Jones points to Florida's voter turnout, where there are “hundreds of thousands of African Americans permanently barred from voting because they were convicted felons.” He asserts that if former felons had the right to vote, Florida would always support Democratic candidates.
Recent statistics about mass incarceration reported in the Netflix documentary 13th are shocking: Black men make up about 6.5 percent of the U.S. population, but 40.2 percent of the prison population. Black men are imprisoned at much higher rates than white men, even if they commit similar crimes. Latino men and black women also face disproportionately high imprisonment rates. Mr. Jones and 13th explain how this is caused by years of racially charged legislation and law enforcement and the disadvantages people face once they have been through the system.
Mr. Jones declares that Trump's White House has thus far carried out the “whitelash” perpetuated by many disaffected white voters. This “whitelash” had previously been slowed by the Obama administration and movements such as “Black Lives Matter.” Jones labels Steve Bannon as a white nationalist and expresses his deep concern by his presence in the White House.
Our leaders must support mass-incarceration reform efforts today, Mr. Jones asserts, particularly in light of Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression which further undermine our democratic process. He states voter suppression includes the 19 year-old who gets caught with marijuana and is forced to plead to a felony, and consequently, can never vote again.
Mr. Jones states, “If people had stood up against mass incarceration and stood up for people having the right to vote when they get out of prison, you'd never have a Donald Trump.”
For more information see: