Assata, White Nationalists, and Twitter

Last week there has been a twitter argument centered around Assata Shakur, a black feminist who was convicted of the murder of a state trooper, escaped prison, and now has political asylum in Cuba.  The Women’s March tweeted a happy birthday message to Assata on July 16th.


Jake Tapper, generally liked by the moderate left, responded to the tweet.


Assata Shakur is a bit of a flash point for the “alt-right.”  This tweet was seen as legitimizing arguments of white supremacists.  The Women’s March responded with a series of 20 tweets explaining who Assata is and why they support her.  COINTELPRO, or the counter intelligence program of the FBI, became a talking point and some other journalists entered the discussion.

Shaun King

The Politically Reactive podcast with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu was in an interesting situation.  On July 13th they aired an interview with Linda Sarsour, the most well known of the Women’s March organizers, and the following week were scheduled to air an interview with Jake Tapper.  The podcasters reached out to both after the twitter argument but did not hear back.  They thought it would be inappropriate to simply air the second interview and instead made an episode “Hold Up, Wait a Minute: Twitter Feuds & Threat Models” featuring Prof. Jessie Daniels of Hunter College and CUNY College and cyber security expert Nicholas Weaver.

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Trends in US Corrections, 2016

The Sentencing Project is a non profit organization that collects data about prisoners and suggests policy reforms. The 2016 Trends in US Corrections data sheet has been released and can be found here.

Information includes prison population, rates of international incarceration, state expenditures, population by offense, population for drug offenses, and female, racial, and youth population in prisons.

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Poverty and CJS

Last Week Tonight has covered some of the consequences of the criminal justice system for poor people.  First, municipal violations, or small infractions typically resulting in fines.

Many are also in prison because they can not afford to post bail.  Up to 40% of prisoners at Rikers are there because they can not pay amounts of $5,000 or less.

Incarceration v Education

Despite drops in crime, the number of prisoners in the US has continued to increase.  The US locks up more people per capita than any other country; we are 5% of the world population with 25% of the world’s prisoners.  The number of people in prison has quadrupled since 1980, currently roughly 1 in every 100 adults.  

Prison spending now costs states an estimated $80 billion annually, or $260 per resident.  In at least 40 states, more is spent annually to imprison an individual than to educate an elementary/secondary student.  The following chart can be found at CNN Money.

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