Mass Incarceration. The New Jim Crow. The War on Drugs. Thanks to Professor Michelle Alexander these phrases are now intimately linked in the minds of social justice advocates and faith leaders as we begin a critical struggle for fairness, justice and human rights in the criminal courts, police precincts and prisons of America. The Next Movement is convinced that America can do better, and that the majority of Americans would want us to do better, if they knew the truth. The truth about systemic incarceration, structural second class status, completely uneven law enforcement practices, oppressive and selectively enforced laws that is filling the prisons of America.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Evidence is one thing, Fighting is the right thing

A good friend and mentor, Howard Saffold (a founder of the Negro Patrolman's League and CEO of the Positive Anti-Crime Trust), once forwarded to me a wonderful report, The Adoration of the Question: Reflections on the Failure to Reduce Racial & Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System. The actual report deals with challenges to move from theory to action, from minor tinkering to real transformation, in the obvious and clearly unjust racial and ethnic disparities in our juvenile justice system, but the first part of the title, "The Adoration of the Question," has stuck with me through the years as the reams of studies have been developed on the issue of mass incarceration, but the will of our politicians, and our people, seems unmotivated to act.

This editorial in the NYTimes is another high profile call for an end to America's epidemic of mass incarceration. Motivated by a 444 page report from the National Academy of Sciences, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences - yet another treatise on this issue - they quote the usual statistics (2.2 million incarcerated Americans, disproportional effects on black, brown and poor, nearly 160,000 people serving life sentences) and some new ones ($80 billion a year spent on direct corrections costs). They also mention a report by Human Rights Watch, Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution, and a particular quote:

. . . while prison should generally be a last resort, in the United States “it has been treated as the medicine that cures all ills,” and that “in its embrace of incarceration, the country seems to have forgotten just how severe a punishment it is.”
With Professor Angela Davis' book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, from 2002, and Professor Michelle Alexander's more recent book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, and the many other books, research reports, editorials, documentary films, etc., that describe and inform on the subject of prison and mass incarceration, the depth and damage of this humanitarian nightmare is clear.

What is needed now is not more Adoration of the Question, but more action!

There are organizations spouting up in cities across America focused on ending the mass incarceration epidemic, ending the drug war, making sense of our sentencing laws, and reestablishing mental health treatment capacity in this country.  If you are in Chicago, join us, The Next Movement. If you are anywhere else in the country, look for a Campaign to End The New Jim Crow, or contact us to help locate an organization in your area.

Stop adoring and start fighting.

A luta continua,

Daryle Brown

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Modern Day Torture Chambers

Even though I have been visiting prisons in Cook County, throughout the State of Illinois, and even Oxford Federal Prison in Wisconsin, for many years, the revelation of excessively poor treatment coming out of Menard Prison was shocking.

The preliminary report from Alan Mills, the Legal Director of The Law Center, is an indictment on our very humanity. Our government would close down a puppy breeder for less negligent behavior. Our prison officials, and elected representatives by extension, are so callous, cruel and indifferent to incarcerated citizens, leaving them to be subject to disease and suffering that is totally unnecessary. When these men return to their community, what will be left of their humanity!

Please check out this article by clicking here.

As your anger rises, as your empathy kicks in, consider joining with your Prison Ministry or The Next Movement committee (of the Prison Ministry) to fight for justice, for humane treatment of prisoners, for an end to America's love affair with incarceration.

Daryle Brown

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Free Entrepreneurship Program Exclusively for Ex-Offenders

Sent to us by friend of the cause, Prof. Randolph Stone:

Free Entrepreneurship Program
Exclusively for Ex-Offenders

Starts June 9, 2014

Greetings from the IL-SBDC/Duman Entrepreneurship Center at JVS Chicago. We are pleased to announce that the Basic Entrepreneurship Support and Training Program (B.E.S.T.) is accepting participants for its first session of 2014. B.E.S.T. is a six week course of entrepreneurial training exclusively for ex-offenders. The next session will start on June 9th, 2014.

In 2013, sixty seven (67) ex-offenders completed the B.E.S.T. Program achieving nine new business starts or expansions and 14 new jobs were created. In addition, five of these businesses were funded through our B.E.S.T. micro-loan program, which is earmarked exclusively for ex-offenders. We are looking to create many new success stories for 2014.

We are reaching out to all of our partners to assist us in identifying qualified individuals who would benefit from this program. Thank you for your continuing support of this program.

The Duman Entrepreneurship Center Team

We need 30 Ex-Offenders
looking to start or expand a small business
and to become one of our many success stories.
There have been many successful
business start-ups and expansions
since the inception of the program.

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Plan for the start-up or expansion of a successful small business
  • Create and write a successful business plan
  • Design an industry specific marketing plan
  • Address financial planning and credit issues
  • Understand business structure and risk management
  • Examine options for funding a small business
  • Apply for funding through the B.E.S.T. Loan Program 

Microloans are Available!
Eligible program participants can receive microloans up to $5,000 to start or expand their business.

May be the last opportunity to participate in this program for 2014. Classes fill fast!
Important Information and Registration
Registration and Additional Information
All classes will be held at:

JVS Chicago
216 W. Jackson, 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60606
To register, and for more information, contact:
JVS Chicago
Duman Microenterprise Center
Register Today
Space is Limited!
City of Chicago Residency Required
This program is funded by the City of Chicago
Department of Family and Support Services