Saturday November 17, 2018
Agency that aids ex-inmates has its work cut out for it.
Thank you for the article on Berks Connections/Pretrial Services ("Agents of change," Nov. 15). The organization has an uphill battle. In Michelle Alexander's masterful 2010 book "The New Jim Crow," she explains how the war on drugs has created a new caste system, noting, "More African Americans are under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850."
Those imprisoned for even minor drug law infractions can become an outcast for life: losing voting rights and unable to get housing or employment or to serve on juries. And the war on drugs is directed squarely at minorities in urban centers, though drug use is evenly spread across racial and economic lines.
An important victory in the 2018 elections was the success of the massive project led by Desmond Meade of Orlando, Fla., for the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative movement, also known as Florida's Amendment 4. It was passed, which means citizens released from incarceration now can vote in Florida.
The Washington Post reported that overall, about 13 percent of African-Americans in the United States are locked out of the voting booth, though they are eligible to vote in Pennsylvania.
More must be done for former prisoners