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Mass Incarceration and Voter Suppression that Led to Trump in the White House

Posted by Seth Chazin | Mar 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

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:

  1. Vanity Fair: Let Van Jones Explain How Mass Incarceration Led Directly to Trump’s Win 
  2. Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform
  3. Federal Bureau of Prisons Statistics: Inmate Offenses 
  4. Human Rights Watch report on the Sentencing Project

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson