WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established in 1909 to protect the civil and human rights of blacks and other people of color; and
WHEREAS, there are more than 1.5 million men, women, boys and girls in prison or detention in America; and
WHEREAS, in America, a disproportionate number of blacks are in the Criminal Justice System; and
WHEREAS, while blacks in America constitute less than fifteen percent (15%) of the general population, America's prison population is more than fifty percent (50%) black; and
WHEREAS, the imprisonment rate of blacks is not reflective of the crime and arrest rates where whites are being granted probation and lighter sentences more frequently than blacks for similar crimes; and
WHEREAS, many factors other than crime can account for this higher imprisonment rate of blacks, including racially biased courts, economic factors, inadequate or inaccessible legal defense and the imposition of stiffer mandatory penalties for crimes, e.g., crack v. powder cocaine sentencing; and
WHEREAS, the NAACP had a program to address racial injustices in the criminal justice system that included the prison and parole system; and
WHEREAS, the prison program had its genesis on May 25, 1972 when the first prison branch of the NAACP was organized at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and
WHEREAS, the objectives of that program were:
- To measurably aid in the rehabilitative process of incarcerated men and women throughout America by making available to them membership in this nation's most prestigious civil rights organization;
- To channel the energy and talents of prisoners into constructive pursuits; and
- To aid prospective parolees in securing firm job commitments before their release and to reduce this nation's recidivism rate and the amount of taxpayer dollars spent by returning more ex-offenders to their committees as assets rather than liabilities.
BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People re-establish the Prison Program to address issues relating to the prison population; and that the National Office of the NAACP support the development of NAACP Prison and Parole Task Forces at the state and local levels to address and to seek remedies to the high rate of imprisonment of African-Americans, the poor, and other people of color; and that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People support the development of special Jubilee Year 2000 Amnesty Project by State Conferences and local branches which provide for the categorical and immediate release of certain unjustly confined prison inmates who may have been wrongly corrected or unduly sentenced and who pose no danger to society.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all state conferences and local branches of the NAACP take action consistent with the national policy to address the high incidence of the incarceration of blacks throughout America.