Megan

 

Hi. My name is Megan. I suffer from what has been called “the plight of the white southerner.” This is not a modern-day white man’s burden but a fascination with inequalities and race. Not to mention, I’m a woman, not a man.

It is safe to say that of the many urban issues raised in contemporary social studies, race is one of the most consistent. There are probably few better places to observe these issues than within our nation’s capitol, the magnificent and ever perplexing Washington, DC. The federal government may dominate the exported image of the city, but long or short term residents will tell you that the Washingtonian appears with many faces. The population of the District is 60% African American, comprising much of the permanent inhabitants and local workforce; this percentage has diminished in recent years thanks to several influences. I speak of a marginalized group operating in the wake of national power, under the dangling of democracy. Racial inequalities are sadly (and explicitly) on display in DC, keeping the awareness of this unfairness on high alert.

And that fits right in with another obsession of mine: the justice system.

The words I will be writing on this website will be looking at a physical place where these two interests intersect: halfway homes. Since the prison population of DC is 90% African American (many of whom are drug offenders) it is assumed that the typical halfway home inhabitant is of the same racial category. There is a 77% chance that their first stay will not be their last encounter with the legal world, appearing as though some aspect of the “rehabilitation” process is failing. This failure affects the African American population disproportionately.

Instead of tackling the large looming question of “why?” I will be investigating specific issues of the halfway home world, combining personal observation with literature research. Though subject to change, I hope to offer a glimpse into issues pertaining to employment, mental health, and credit problems facing released offenders. Let’s throw in a bit of justice system theory and call it a day, eh?

(Disclaimer: The southern bit I speak of is slightly contested. I grew up in Kentucky, a no-man’s land geographically and culturally which neither the Midwest nor the South is quick to claim. Big surprise. So we self-identify and shift as appropriate. I’ve been four years gone and plan to create new footprints rather than backtrack home. My interests are as narrow as the globe, which basically means I have a hard time keeping on track. Feel free to help me with that. Cheers.)

View all my posts here.


5 Responses to “Megan”

  1. 1 Travis

    What do we get to talk about on here? Anything special?

  2. Megan,

    Cool website and project. D.C.’s taxation without representation has always baffled me…perhaps something to look at with regards to the justice system and the national image of D.C. versus the reality. Additionally, I do believe the lack of personal responsibility on the part of many in the Black community on both a widely accepted individual basis and with public figures (ie. Marion Barry’s repeated acceptance and political redemption) probably stems from the cyclical and generational lack of expectations and hope, lack of a father figure and stable family life dating all the way back to the growth of Washington’s early African American community pre and post Civil War. Now that’s a run-on sentence!!!

  3. travis-
    reply in the manner you feel appropriate.

    didn’t your momma always tell you you were special?

  4. 4 sasc

    Shaemus-

    Your comment about black Washingtonians reflect the same tired stereotypes that African Americans have been trying to rid themselves of for quite some time. Blaming the victim is a classic way not only to justify enduring discrimination but to absolve the blamer of any responsibility to change things. You write of “the growth of Washington’s early African American community pre and post Civil War,” but don’t mention contemporary our society at large (not just black society) that influences people to make poor decisions. I’m all for personal responsibility but I think this shameful culture of poverty argument has been proven wrong by now.

  5. 5 Cait

    Megan:
    Nice site. I think the intersection of race and class — through the lens of the justice system (or vice versa) is incredibly important. The public defender in me says “go for it Megan!” If you get some time take a look at the work going on around prisoner reentry, some of it might be published through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) which is the Dept of Justice’s research arm….they actually produce some interesting and useful papers as well as the Bureau of Justice Statistics. For an interesting perspective, I can put you in touch with several public defender leaders who are thinking creatively about race, class, justice and fairness in our courts, jails, juvenile system and for post-incarceration assistance for their clients. There’s also a group called the NuLeadership Policy Group that would be a great resource for you. They are a group of convicted felons who have either served time or have been on probation after their felony conviction. What makes them different is that all of them must be accepted into the group based on their professionals accomplishments. For example, the group is made up of doctors, MBAs, social workers, lawyers, scientists, teachers, priests, business owners etc. The Nu Leadership Policy Group is now operated out of Medgar Evers College at City University of New York. My friend Divine Pryor is one of their top leaders. Let me know if you want to get in touch with him to further your research on race and justice….he has LOTS to say! Here is how to reach Divine:
    The Center for Law and Social Justice
    1150 Carroll St. Suite CP19
    Brooklyn, NY 11225
    Finally, I think you should go to law school, girl! Here is the group that could fund your advocacy work after law school: Equal Justice Works. As a consultant I’ve done leadership development work with them to support the next generation of public service lawyers. They are an outstanding organization and really help people with vision and passion. Equal Justice Works organizes, trains and supports public service-minded law students and is the national leader in creating summer and postgraduate public interest jobs. Check out their site: http://www.equaljusticeworks.org.
    On there, you can see some of the people and their projects that they fund. It’s very important work and these young lawyers are making an impact.
    I will keep checking back on your site!
    Cait


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