NIOT Princeton

Re New Jim Crow: Incarceration Conference April 19


SPEAK UP NOW to help pass legislation

Simone L. Brickers and Nicole Plett

 At the YWCA Princeton Now Hear This session on March 14, Simone Brickers and Nicole Plett presented updates to the problem of mass incarceration as it relates to the New Jim Crow awareness movement. Plett, who represents the Integrated Justice Alliance, offered info on criminal justice bills that reside in legislative committee. To get these bills out of committee will require pressure from voters. March 25 is the deadline for public comment on #3, prison telephone surcharge. 

Please support these bills.

1. “The Opportunity to Compete Act”
S2586 & A3837
Also known as “Ban the Box,” this bill establishes certain employment rights for persons with
criminal histories. Under this law, criminal background checks are delayed until later in the
hiring process, encouraging employers to focus on the current skills and qualifications of a job
candidate, rather than past mistakes. This bill will come before the Labor Committee of each
House following this month’s budget negotiations.

2. Prison-based Gerrymandering
S1055 & A1437
Requires incarcerated persons be counted as residents of their previous address, not prison,
for redistricting purposes.
Primary sponsors are Senator Sandra Cunningham and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Known as the prison-based gerrymandering bill, you can learn more about this issue on the
national website of the Prison Policy Initiative: and on NJ’s
page within the site: The bill was been passed out of the Senate State Government committee (May 2012). It is currently before the Assembly State Government committee (Assemblywoman Linda Stender,

3. Prison Telephone Surcharge A1436
Requires lowest possible price for inmate telephone calls.
Primary Sponsor is Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Bonnie Watson Coleman and Albert Coutinho, Primary Sponsors.
In the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The FCC is also receiving comments on
this issue as it pertains to interstate phone calls by incarcerated persons; deadline for public
comments is March 25.

Myths and Assumptions: Continuing Conversation April 1

It’s on APRIL FOOL’S DAY though not a subject for joking. The next Continuing Conversation on Race will be Monday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m., in the Princeton Public Library (second floor) on the topic of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. You do NOT have to have read the book to participate.

Larry Spruill and Rosemary Cilenti will lead the discussion, starting with the questions here.

What myths and assumption do the general public hold about the criminal justice system?

How dose mass incarceration affect communities in which rates of incarceration are high?

How does the post reconstruction Jim Crow compare to “The New Jim Crow”?

However, if you have ever come to one of these sessions, you know that the conversation veers to places where the participants want to go. These monthly Continuing Conversations offer a chance to talk about very difficult issues in an honest and friendly way — with the security that whatever is said in the room will stay in the room.

The  book will be read aloud in the Jim Crow Read-Out, shown left, starting Sunday, April 7 at 5 p.m. and continuing for a week in front of Hinds Plaza. 

An expert on due process speaks on April 21. For more events, click here.  For a black person’s perspective on why doesn’t want to discuss race, see the post below. 

Steve Locke: ‘Why I Can’t Write About Race"

Here is a useful post that Don Stryker found.

 Excerpts below, but for the whole post click here  

Tom Matlack asked his friend Steve Locke to write about race. He declined. Here’s why.

Dear Tom
Thanks so much for asking me to contribute something to the Good Men Project.  It has been exciting to see how this project has gone from an idea to a reality.As much as I enjoy reading GMP and as much as I’d love to be a part of it, I don’t think I am able to write about race.
. . . 
Black people can’t talk to white people about race anymore. There’s really nothing left to say. There are libraries full of books, interviews, essays, lectures, and symposia. If people want to learn about their own country and its history, it is not incumbent on black people to talk to them about it. It is not our responsibility to educate them about it. Plus whenever white people want to talk about race, they never want to talk about themselves. There needs to be discussion among people who think of themselves as white. They need to unpack that language, that history, that social position and see what it really offers them, and what it takes away from them. As James Baldwin said, “As long as you think that you are white, there is no hope for you.”
. . . 

Tom, I have never, not once, thought of you as white. I think of you as a father, a husband, a brilliant businessman, a feminist, a Quaker, and most of all as a friend. You have never treated me as whiteness demands that you treat me. I don’t want to talk about race because if I do, I stop being an artist, an educator, a godfather, a gay man, and most of all, human.
So I appreciate the offer, Tom, I really do. I just don’t think I can write about it. I can write about art if you like. I know a lot about that.
Love to Elena and the kids, and to you, my man.
Reprinted with permission

More articles On Race:

White Boy in a Black Land

Black Boy in a White Land

‘Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race’

Eating While Black

Facing Mecca

Beautiful on All Sides

Race is Always a Parenting Issue

The Race Walk

Poetry In Motion: A Story of Hardship and Hope in Crow Country, Montana

How Travel Made Me Confront White Privilege

I Prefer My Racism Straight Up, Thank You.

Whiteness Is Not the Absence of Racial Identity Any More Than Maleness Is the Absence of Gender Identity

I Ain’t No Whiteboy: A Reflection on Hip-Hop, Misogyny, and Racial Identity

Why We Need to Talk About Race

When Do I Get To Stop Apologizing for Being White?

Tourism Black and Blues

How Basketball Helped Me Realize I’m Not White

I Talk About Race Because I Don’t Know How Not To


The Death of Due Process? Candace McCoy

Candace McCoy, a Professor at the Graduate Center and John
Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New
York will talk about aspects of the function and dysfunction
of the United States criminal justice system. The event will be
at Princeton Friends Meeting on Sunday, April 21, from 7 to 8
p.m. Everyone is invited to the talk and to the potluck dinner
that precedes the talk at 6:00 p.m. Open discussion will follow.

Her talk will explore these questions, which, as she says, obsess

Why is it that jury trials are used in less than 1% of criminal cases

Why did plea bargaining become so powerful? 

If you need due process from an American court, what does it take to get it?

How does the death of due process connect to wider problems in
the criminal justice system, such as mass incarceration and racial
and class disparities?

These events will all take place in the First Day School that is on the
same property as the Princeton Friends School, but the buildings are
not the same. The entrance to the campus is off Quaker Road just
before it intersects Mercer Road and just before the road block where
Quaker Road leads to US 1. The First Day School shares a wall with
the burial ground

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