Iowa is up for "same-sex" marriage yet keeps racism alive and well

Firstly, many thanks to Lois Ahern for maintaining the blog at therealcostofprisons.org.  The below article details the growing disparities and incarceration of people of color in Iowa, specifically Black people.  This is a state that liberal gay and lesbian organizations have been celebrating for the victory of "same-sex" marriage.  Will these same organizations take time to actually advocate for those queers who are marginalized by this same states incarceration system?  History will say no.  Challenges must continue to be brought to these mainstream G/L organizations so that they will learn what it means to be accountable to a movement of queer/trans people who are affected by the far reaches of the prison industrial complex.  

Black prison population in Iowa could grow–now 2% of population and 24 % of prisoners

Black prison population in Iowa could grow

By MIKE GLOVER | Associated Press Writer
May 14, 2009
Chicago Tribune
DES MOINES, Iowa – Blacks continue to be incarcerated in Iowa prisons
at a number far out of proporation to their overall population in the
state, and that disparity is expected to grow over the next 10 years,
state prison officials were told Wednesday.

The state began to study the racial breakdown of prison inmates
under former Gov. Tom Vilsack, and that initial study found that 24
percent of the state’s prison beds are occupied by blacks who make up
roughly 2 percent of the population.

The Iowa Board of Corrections was told that those numbers remain unchanged as of last year but are expected to grow.

"The projections are that the percent of African-Americans in prison
will slightly increase over the next 10 years," said Lettie Prell,
research director for the Iowa Department of Corrections. She said
tougher penalties for crimes like robbery will likely lead to the

Prell also said there is a disparity in sentencing practices when sentences are measured by race.

She said 48.3 percent of blacks convicted of serious drug charges
receive prison time, compared to 36.5 percent of whites. That same
disparity is seen throughout the range of felony drug cases.

Looking at the correctional population as a whole, just over 20
percent of whites in the corrections system are in prison or confined
in community facilities, while nearly 40 percent of blacks in the
corrections system are in prison or confined in community facilities.

"On the whole, incarceration rates for African-Americans is higher than for whites for the various types of crimes," Prell said.

Prell said studies have shown a broad array of social and economic forces account for the disparity in prison population.

"They go way beyond the scope of corrections itself," she said.

Prell said corrections officials have launched pilot projects in
Waterloo and Des Moines that begin before an inmate is released and are
designed to closely supervise inmates and offer a variety of counseling
programs. Early results are encouraging, though a tight state budget
has reduced available funding for those efforts, she said.

"We’re doing what we can to grow those initiatives," Prell said.

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