Listen to Victoria Clark:
“The whole criminal justice system… needs to be dismantled,” Victoria Clark said outside DC Jail at a Presidents Day rally organized by Occupy DC’s Criminal (In)Justice Committee.
“We need to do away with for-profit prisons [because] when you make it so a company or corporation makes money off of locking people up there’s no incentive not to,” Clark, 24, told TheFightBack.
All told, Clark’s family has spent more than a century behind bars, which didn’t seem unusual to her, until she left D.C. Looking at it from the outside “you realize how crazy it is to grow up with almost every other family member in prison,” said Clark, who recently graduated from Temple University.
The U.S. is off the charts when it comes to locking people up, particularly people of color, often for drug use. While there’s little to no difference in drug use across races, there’s a big difference in who gets locked up. For example, in D.C., which has roughly as many blacks as whites, African Americans made up 91 percent of those arrested for marijuana in 2007, City Paper reported.
Upon release, returning citizens often find themselves cut off from the job market because of their conviction. “You see this cycle repeating itself,” said Clark, who’s watched many of her friends struggle to find employment. “It’s not that they don’t want to work, they just can’t get hired.”
Clark, who now works as an investigator at The Public Defender Service, has been accepted to law school at University of Washington and Northeastern University, where she’s a finalist for a Public Interest Law Scholarship. “Hopefully I can get it and then I can continue this [work],” she said. “We gotta end this.”
Michelle Alexander on Mass Incarceration and The New Jim Crow, Jan. 28, 2012