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Recently, some kossacks have correctly noted there are too few diaries regarding the criminal justice system. As many Kossacks know, Daily Kos used to have an excellent weekly diary series on the topic. When the series was discontinued, Daily Kos lost an extremely important perspective. Our "big tent" shrank. Daily Kos is strongest and most effective when we include and welcome diverse perspectives.

Angola 3 News has published 93 diaries about the subject over 4 years. He keeps plugging away, but his diaries get little attention. I've added him to my "Follow" list.

Here are some basic facts about our prisons:  Since 1970, the prison population has grown by 700%. Contrast that with 1920 to 1970 when the prison population grew at the same rate as the general population. 1 in 99 Americans are now in prison. 1 in 31 is now under correctional supervision. Many do not pose a threat to anyone. The prison-industrial complex is another example of crony capitalism creating a criminal justice system that doesn't help anyone - not inmates, their families, communities, taxpayers, or crime victims. The only party that benefits is corporate owners.  

There are so many outstanding and needed diaries on the abuses of the top 1%. I'd like to see more diaries on how to help the bottom 1%. I think the incarcerated qualify as the bottom 1%?  So do the homeless.  

The purpose of this diary isn't to suggest people write too many diaries about other critically important topics. They don't. The purpose of this diary isn't to suggest people write less about something else. They shouldn't - they should write more. The purpose of this diary is simply to encourage people to write more diaries regarding the criminal justice system.  

Why is it important that progressive topics be well represented on Daily Kos?  Won't any elected progressive majority require a diverse coalition representing a wide variety of issues?  

When I came to Daily Kos, I was just an economic populist. Words like universal health care, living minimum wage, full employment, and strong safety net were music to my ears. But I didn't know much about climate change. I didn't know much about abortion. I had never heard the term white privilege. I didn't know much about foreign policy. I didn't know much about the criminal justice system. In 2006, if someone asked me if I was pro-choice or pro-life, I would have said pro-choice but I would have responded with little conviction or knowledge. If someone asked me if I thought climate change was real, I would have answered either an unconvincing yes or said I didn't know.

With regard to criminal justice issues, I was always against the death penalty and for improving prison conditions. But there was a lot I didn't know. I wasn't familiar with the war on drugs and resulting huge increase in mass incarceration. I didn't know about the privatization of prisons and how this created a powerful new corporate entity to lobby for strict sentencing guidelines that don't help anyone except corporate owners. I considered faith based initiatives harmless and I didn't know they were part of prison policy. This diary convinced me such policy is simply another form of Republican crony capitalism disguised as Christianity. I would now consider myself a prison abolitionist because I don't feel they benefit anyone except their owners. I believe a civilized society has to find more humane and effective ways to deal with crime. Also, if you read or re-read these diaries doesn't it really sink in the talent Daily Kos has lost?

Shouldn't this community examine how we can attract and retain such talent on this important topic?  Isn't that what a reality based community would do?

I learned about these topics because Kossacks took the time to write about them and took the time to interact with me here on Daily Kos. Today, if someone asked me if I was pro-choice I would answer yes and I could also explain how abortion is legal in name only for a significant part of the population and why it is important abortion be safe, legal, available, and affordable. If someone asked me if I thought climate change was real, I would answer yes and I could explain why this is a pressing issue. I've even begun to write eco diaries. I understand white privilege a lot better than I did. I want a foreign policy where America leads by example. I've also learned a lot more about the economic populist issues that are dear to me. As explained, I know a lot more about the criminal justice system.

One reason I stayed on Daily Kos is because I don't want an echo chamber. What would I learn if everyone here was like me?  This is my blogging home. I have no desire to blog elsewhere. Conversely, if you write just for an audience that always agrees with you, who will you educate?  That's why it is important to write about topics, even if you sometimes get pushback. So often people focus on the 1-2 jerk commenters instead of on the 95% of commenters that are either supportive or constructively disagree but may have information the diarist didn't know or overlooked.

What can we do to encourage more diaries about our prisons here on Daily Kos?  What can we do that would attract and retain people knowledgeable about this subject?  That will be open for discussion in the comments!  

I don't have the answers. I do remember when the environmental kossacks felt there weren't enough eco diaries. I watched, and I noticed they came up with positive steps to remedy that. For example, MB restarted Green Diary Rescue.  I think this helped because its natural people to want to be recognized. Also, after I wrote my first eco diary, I received a kosmail from someone inviting me to one of the eco groups and providing me with HTML code to put at the bottom of any eco diaries. The graphics can be found at the bottom of my last diary. Graphics draws readers and encourages writers! I was also immediately made a blog editor in the eco groups, and not just a Contributor. I've gotten so much more out of groups that made me an editor. The group inbox can serve as a way to inform people about diaries or bounce ideas off people.

Of course, those are just ideas open for suggestion. I think a lot of kossacks will have a lot more insight than I do.

So, why do prisons always seem on the bottom of the political "to do" list?    

I think privilege in some form affects every political issue. To me, privilege is when one supports an issue only when it directly affects them or they are afraid it will.

Why don't we have national health care like every other civilized country?  Yes, it is partly because of the powerful insurance industry and its ability to mislead the public. However, I believe this failure is failure partly due to privilege?  Isn't it partly because Americans privileged enough to have good health care aren't willing to pay taxes so everyone has health care?  Aren't those privileged Americans pretty disconnected from those who are without health care?  That's why I always liked Eve's diaries. She put a human face on health care - something statistics can't do. I think it would help to put a human face on mass incarceration.  

Why have Republicans been able to make so much progress against abortion rights without actually overturning Roe v Wade?  Why is abortion legal in name only for so many women?  Why was there so little opposition to the Hyde Amendment decades ago?  Would it be partly due to privilege?  That the initial assault on abortion rights focused primarily on poorer women and women of color?  And now Republicans want to make abortion legal in name only for even more women. And they won't stop there.

Why is it so easy to cut the food stamp program but so hard to cut Social Security?  

A big reason prisons are always at the bottom of the "to do" list is because brutal as they are, the prison-industrial complex just hasn't hurt enough people.

This reminds me of Occupy Wall Street. I loved Occupy Wall Street. I was so excited to see people finally take to the streets against corporate America. I so badly wanted this movement to change the national conversation. Well, Occupy Minnesota had a class one afternoon on OWS and race. How did a lot of people of color view OWS?  One thing the instructor talked about was how the subprime mortgage crisis started out in poor and disproportionately black neighborhoods and the white left was pretty silent. Now that it had spread, there was this mass protest. Where were these protestors all these years? I got the impression from the OWS class that history has created a lack of trust between people of color and the white left. Example: if mortgage relief had passed, those hurt least seriously would benefit first. Would the white left stay the course until the problem was fully solved?  That's a bridge to build because the more alliances we can build, the stronger our coalition.

Note: by "white left" I don't mean Daily Kos. There's a long history here and many of us weren't born or politically active for a lot of it. I honestly don't fully understand all the divides around here. I've never been able to put my finger fully on why when anyone mentions the word white privilege a pie fight often breaks out. Most of us have both benefited from one form of privilege and been hurt by not having another form.

Sadly, humanity just hasn't gotten to a point we realize that we are all interconnected; that we are our brother's keeper. That if we allow conditions permitting a few to suffer, we create conditions that allow injustice to gradually spread until it impacts more and more Americans. That's happened with health care, unemployment, abortion, criminal justice system, and other issues. The best way to protect yourself from injustice is to fight for those who aren't currently as privileged.  

The floor is now yours for discussion - what can we do to encourage and promote more criminal justice diaries?  How can we attract and retain more talented writers on this subject?  

Originally posted to joedemocrat on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 12:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, and White Privilege Working Group.

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