The murder of George Floyd opened the eyes of most everyone in America, even the world. 2020 in fact was doing just that, giving people perfect 20/20 vision to see the injustices more clearly. Now more aware myself I took to Delaware, more particularly Wilmington, where I was born and raised ready to make a difference. Upon my arrival I literally parked directly in the midst of a protest. I quickly joined and that first contact changed the course of my life. This is when I first found out about the problems in Delaware. This is also the place I first heard that Delaware had the largest incarceration rate per capita in the entire world. My mind was blown.
Let that sink in…not just the East Coast or even the United States but the whole world? A state so small with numbers so high is alarming to say the least. However, it forced me to dig deeper as to who and why. Currently Delaware’s incarceration rate is 756 per 100,000 and the rate of imprisonment has continued to grow drastically over the last 40 years. It currently exceeds the United States Average (PrisonPolicy.org, 2020)
When I first started this journey of knowledge, Delaware was number one in incarnation rate, however Delaware in 2020, is second to Louisiana. Second by 9%. We beat out Texas which is enormous compared to Delaware by over 10%. How can a state so small be second in incarceration? Also, the majority are Black and Brown faces. Six out of 10 inmates in the state of Delaware are Black. However, we make up less than 22 % of the population across the state. Also, when it comes to the amount of people actually locked up, Delaware places 15th. Also, statistically the average 22-year-old black male from Delaware is either dead or has had an altercation with police. How can this be possible?
Well for starters there is a clear line when it comes to the school to prison pipeline in Wilmington. Currently there is a report that the Attorney General sends to schools when students encounter police off of school premises. This report is based on the arrest or altercation and not the result of the contact. This means a student could be swept up in an arrest or come in contact with police but found innocent of any crime. After contact, the report is sent out to the appropriate schools and consequences of that report would already have been passed down onto the student. One of the effects of this report is sending students to an alternative school to further their education and removing them out of the normal high school setting.
When it comes to the parole system, in a recent grading Delaware received an F- (Renaud, 2019). Also, currently there are talks that the Delaware Prison system is failing when it comes to being precautions with COVID-19. They adamantly deny this claim, but many prisoners are saying that basic precautions such as staff wearing face mask, are even being ignored. In June a report, Delaware received another F in regard to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic (Widra &Hayre, 2020)
These things along with other things unlisted has assisted Delaware to stand out internationally when it comes to incarceration rate and their judicial system as a whole. A state so small, with enormous problems that point to racial disparity and prejudice. More to follow.
Renaud, J., 2019. “Grading the Parole Release System of All 50 States”. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/grading_parole.html
Prison Policy Initiative, 2020. www.prisionpolicy.org
Widra, E. & Hayre, D., (2020). “Failing Grades: States’ Responses to COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons”. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/failing_grades.html
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