Monday, April 9, 2007

[kanoshia] Institutionalized Racism

Siddique Abdullah Hasan is a prisoner on Death Row at the Ohio State
Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio. For more information about Siddique,

Induced Failure

Commentary by Siddique Abdullah Hasan

Scroll down for a written transcipt

1) 6:16 Radio Essay MP3
Institutionalized Racism

Commentary by Siddique Abdullah Hasan

Scroll down for a written transcipt

1) 2:36 Radio Essay MP3

Induced Failure


Copyright 2007/ Siddique Abdullah Hasan

The current penal system in America is not working. It doesn't take a
rocket scientist to come to the conclusion, that it predisposes
prisoners to recidivism, a relapse into a life of crime. Since man is
ultimately a product of his environment, the current system products
speak for themselves: failure. The system practices set it's occupants
up for exclusion from the mainstream success stories of society,
except for the families, friends and loved ones of prisoners and
ex-prisoners. Most Americans have not really considered prisoners
plight and daily struggles. Though various studies show that from
one-half to two-thirds of parolees return to prison for violating the
conditions of their release, or for reoffending, few people,
tax-payers, prosecutors, politicians and CEO's of corporations seemed
to have really pondered the critical question: Why is this colossal
recidivism taking place on our soil? Have the citizens of this great
industrial nation become so detached and desensitized that they could
care less about prisoner's lives. Well, I hope not because prisoners
desperately need your assistance in reintegrating back into society
and upholding the anticipation that they will become an asset to their
respective community.

Richard Gustufson, a columnist and retired teacher who taught 30 years
at Miami Valley Career Technical Center, said, "National statistics
indicate that recidivism is cut in half with support from the
community." It is my personal and unyielding belief that recidivism is
also tremendously reduced when the system pursues its once desired
effect, rehabilitation. However, rehabilitation is a thing of the

It was in 1790 that the first penitentiary in this country opened its
doors to house criminals. The purpose of this new creation was to
place criminals in a confined area, where they might ponder over their
crimes, repent and reform themselves, hence, the term penitentiary.
Much has changed in the last three decades due to the influences of
tough talking, opportunistic politicians, who have reduced funding for
rehabilitative programs to almost nil, so much so that rehabilitation,
or producing a repentive person is no longer the desired objective.
Instead, the current objective is to warehouse prisoners and
deliberately create the circumstances for their failure. This cruel
objective is being perpetrated to perpetuate job security for parole
officials, individuals in corporate America and the like, who benefit
financially from the prison boom, which currently incarcerates 2.2
million people in our nation's prisons. This new trend of merely
warehousing and punishing prisoners is not conducive to the security
and stability of this nation. All it does is mentally crush prisoners
will and doom them to inevitable failure.

As a result of this new trend, prisoners are being released with no
skills, no education, no support system, no job and only a few dollars
in their possession to try to make it in this dog-eat-dog society.
Indeed, a recipe for disaster. It's implausible for prisoners to
survive under these bleak conditions. Let us not forget that
unemployment, poverty, exclusion and a lack of education and guidance
are the ingredients which led to their imprisonment, so how can the
system or any rational human being expect ex-prisoners to succeed when
they are still caught in a catch-22 cycle? Although a job is an
essential means of support to help people acquire the things they
need, trying to secure a job is the ex-prisoners greatest obstacle.
Except when family or friends have been able to secure them
employment, ex-prisoners are refused work due to their criminal
history, something they can't change.

With this revolving door being slammed in their faces, how do we
expect them to react when they are stuck between a rock and a hard
place? They then end up adopting the only culture they know, survival
of the fittest. In plain old English, they resort to exploiting their
old ways of living that is, victimizing others to survive. Because of
this induced failure, I share the sentiments of El-Hajj Malik
El-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X, who said, "I have no mercy or
compassion in me for a society that will crush people and penalize
them for not being able to stand up under the weight." It is my only
hope that society will come to realize prisoners have the same tools,
the same potentials, the same basic human desires and the same
capacity for change and positive development which all other citizens
possess; they just need assistance in effectively developing their
latent potentials.

People change. Even I have changed. In fact, life itself is a process
of transformation. With this said it is my prayer that people will
call on their elected officials to push for rehabilitative programs in
prisons as well as re-entry programs in society that will help
prisoners reintegrate in their communities and become law-abiding

Institutionalized Racism


Copyright 2007/ Siddique Abdullah Hasan

While blacks and whites in this country are murdered at relatively the
same rate – about 47% blacks and 51% whites – 80% of those executed
have been executed for murdering whites while only 7% have been
executed for murdering blacks. So, what does this shocking reality
tell you and I? It tells us several things:

* It tells us that institutionalized racism is very much alive
because it is the powers that be who decide when to or when not to
charge someone with a capital offense; 2) that if you murder a white
person, you are ten times more likely to be executed than if you had
murdered a black person; 3) that the lives of black people in this
country is insignificant in relation to whites; 4) that the 14th
amendment to the United States Constitution, which proclaims equal
protection and treatment under the law, is only for human consumption
because it is not put into practical application when it comes to its
black citizens; 5) that even in this 21st century racism and bigotry
against blacks is still prevalent in this society, both the South and
the North; and 6) that 80% of executions occur in the Southern states.

However, this should not come as no surprise when you consider the
fact that almost all the states which have their death penalty machine
up and running are former slave states.

M y brother, instead of trying to find justification and
rationalization for the government's discriminatory behavior towards
our people caught up in the criminal "injustice" system, you should
lift up your voice in protest. Malcolm X stated in his autobiography,
"I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things."
He also said, "If you want something, you had better make some noise."

Therefore, I urge you and all concerned citizens to take a stand
against the racism and bigotry which are being perpetrated against
blacks in our judicuary system.

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