De Facto State Policy: Put African American Males into Concentration Camps, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

African American males are now de-facto enemies of the state. The de-facto California State parole policy for Oakland and all major cities throughout the nation is to put African American males in inner city concentration camps under the guise of ‘reentry’ into the community by parole and probation. The facts compel this conclusion. The distribution of parolees in Alameda County is incontrovertible proof of that conclusion.  It is a policy long in the undertaking. This is how millions of African American males were set up to be legally denied the exercise of their rights under the United States Constitution.  The justification for that policy rests upon the construction of violent crime within the city.

It is February 2013 and Oakland has already recorded 9 homicides. No doubt by the time this is published it will be higher. For over 37 years, Oakland has had a minimum of  sixty-six homicides in 1970 and a maximum of 165 in 1992. So, there has been no progress made in the reduction of the homicide rate in over thirty years despite an increase in the number of police, candle light vigils, and ‘get tough on crime’ policies out of Sacramento.

The felony assault figures in the city of Oakland are even more descriptive of what ails the city. The average annual number of felony assaults is 3,219 for a thirty-eight year period. Many of those assaults are for attempted murder. That figure should be taken as seriously as the murder rate.

It is no denigration to say that Oakland is a violent city. It has been a violent city for a long time. The ripple effect of such a violent environment spreads far and wide. I know that personally because six of my friends and relatives including my brother and a sister in law have been murdered in Oakland. So, aside from the immediate death of the victims of murder, over four thousand since 1969 through 2007, there are tens of thousands of traumatized family members living in the same geographical location where the murders have occurred and who are nagged by the constant memory of tragedy. The city of Oakland by the gravity of their aggregate sadness is cast with a visage of constant mourning.

The highest incidences of murder during the past 30 years are concentrated along a narrow strip of the city. It stretches from the border of Emeryville through North and West Oakland Acorn community down through 105th   avenue between the 580 and 880 freeways. It overlays the old blue collar industrial sectors of Oakland; it is a corridor wherein for most of the 20th century thousands of Oakland residents and their decedents found employment in the city’s many factories.

Oakland’s industrial base started to decline after World War II; that corridor where industries were once situated is today concentrated with people having the highest poverty rate, lowest education levels, respiratory health problems, and highest  unemployment rate in the city. It also has an ex-felon to non-ex-felon ratio of one to three for African American males aged 25 to 34. Like any concentrate, those socio-economic characteristics in combination with the parolee characteristics (2,493 on any given day according to the Urban Strategies Council) are conducive to greater sociopathic solidarity across all age categories, especially over decades of time.  What makes such sociopathic solidarity inevitable is the fact that it is a high population density area into which the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation releases most of its parolees. It thus follows that violence has become to that narrow corridor what salt is to sea water.  It is almost a given.

The best example of increased sociopathic solidarity is gang membership and affiliation.  Though gangs have always plagued inner cities, rarely have they had power beyond the power of local peer pressure.  However, in Oakland and cities like it, there is a growing disproportionate amount of power welded by gangs in local nieghborhoods. Their power is measured against a decline in the influence of local institutions that had historically been able to maintain social solidarity as opposed to the increase in intimidation against local citizens. The influence once maintained by a faith based culture is now overshadowed by the growing influence of gang intimidation and sociopathic solidarity.

Nature abhors a vacuum of any kind. The local economic infrastructure has been collapsed for thirty-years because of the exodus of capital and thus it has no significant influence on the perpetuation of economic hope by people in the community. The 2008 banking scandal and the consequent skyrocketing home foreclosure rate acerbated an already existing crisis.  Therefore, the economic carrying capacity of Oakland cannot meet the demands upon it by the high number of unskilled unemployed persons in the city because manufacturing jobs which have been relocated to Asia are never coming back to the east bay or the United States.

The church and the family are in decline as well.  Their decline is evidenced by the high number of single parent never married households particularly in the African American nieghborhoods; secondly, because there has been a 9% to 20% decrease in number of children aged 5 to 17 in the city of Oakland, and thirdly, because such decline is evidenced by the increased church dependence on federal and state government money grants to prop them up.  That monetary dependence underscores the severity of economic depression in African American nieghborhoods and the need of governments to control poor people through pacification programs.

Much has been said about the historic benchmark when there were more African American males in prison, jail, on parole or probation than in college. The same, however, can be said about church attendance. The church is less influential than gangs in most local inner city neighborhoods today because gangs don’t tithe they take; taking is a forceful and assertive act. Gang activity doesn’t inspire but it does make for an intense adrenaline rush. Forty percent of African American males will spend more time in jail, prison, and on parole than they will spend time in a church in a life-time. The loss of economic hope and a faith based culture insuring the legal status of marriage has made way for gangs and ever weakening family structure to fill the vacuum.

The parole policy of the CDCR is directly antagonistic to traditional cultures in the above described urban area. It is an antagonistic parole policy because during the past thirty-seven years that parole policy has caused significant cultural dysfunction that has brought about: 1) a shift in local power distribution, 2) a demographic concentration of marginalized ex-felons, and 3) it has concentrated and perpetuated a prison yard ethos in neighborhoods.

Neither the County of Alameda nor the City of Oakland shares jurisdiction over parolees with the CDCR.  What that translates to is an indirect conversion of city and county resources to do CDCR work investigating crimes by people under the jurisdiction of the CDCR. Hiring more police officers and sheriffs to round up parolees who commit crimes is a direct monetary drain for the city of Oakland and the county of Alameda. Furthermore, it means that the CDCR has superlative life quality determination for the citizens of Oakland over and above the city council, the county board of supervisors, and voters.  It makes the city a de-facto appendage of the state prison corporate-enterprise complex.

That superlative CDCR power is exercised when it paroles persons where there is either a high probability of parolees to do a successful parole or conversely where there exists a low probability of doing a successful parole, but not both. Given the facts, the CDCR has obviously chosen the latter alternative.  That is exactly what the construction of violent crime means. That is why there is a higher than lesser rate of violence in Oakland. The same pattern is discernable in other large cities in California. If the CDCR developed a new parole strategy which de-concentrated parolees in high volatility areas, there would be a substantial drop in homicide within one to two years in Oakland and other cities. That is solution number one. But the CDCR will not opt for that solution because of institutionalized racism.

The fact that the CDCR has continued to concentrate parolees in high population density areas is evidenced in that narrowly described corridor of Oakland.  It is bad policy to continue to do so.  It is illogical to release more parolees into such areas because after thirty-seven years the arithmetic just does not support it. State wide there is a positive correlation between crime rates of all kinds and high population density. For example, in Oakland there are approximately 7,476 persons per square mile in a 76 mile area; analogously in the city Stockton there are 5,273 persons per square mile living in a 60 square mile area. The total number of felony arrests for the year 2007 was 2,238 in Stockton.  In Oakland it was 6,672.  Though Stockton is only 33% of Oakland’s arrest rate for the same year, Oakland’s population is nearly twice that of Stockton. The fact is that population density coupled with an increasing parolee population is predictive of an increase in felony arrests.  Therefore, a strategic parole policy which factors population density in cities into inmate parole plans can cause a reduction in all crimes and parole violations committed by parolees.

There is no CDCR condition of parole which denies parole to locations with characteristics like the one I’ve described here. Parolees merely must tell their agents were they live or before they move to a new location or pursuant to California Penal Code Section 3003(b) parolees can be paroled to a community that is in the best interest of the parolee and the community. But given the average parolees’ socio-economic status they are of necessity weighted to the very urban situations where they have a long history of social dysfunction and virtually no family support. Therefore, high incidences of violence are symptomatic of a dysfunctional CDCR parole policy in conjunction with dysfunctional social environments. Thus, the CDCR policy should be altered because if it is not altered the violence in Oakland will only worsen with an increased ex-felon population. That is solution number 2.  Here’s why.

There are approximately 480 cities and towns in California.  If under the Federal court order, the CDCR is compelled to release 40,000 inmates on parole within two years, then wouldn’t it be more rational to distribute them evenly across the state?  Given those figures, that would amount to 83 inmates per city.  That would put less strain on large cities while at the same time preventing an increase in the concentration in cities with high rates of violent crimes.

Can we tell prison inmates that they cannot parole to high population density areas?  Absolutely and categorically, ‘yes we can’.  The CDCR must balance its interests in meeting judicial sentencing requirements and Federal court orders against the interests that inner-city communities have in preserving their traditional integrity.

I have argued that such a pattern of parole has effected a massive cultural transplantation in the city of Oakland. It is impossible for cities like Oakland to avoid taking on the characteristics of a prison yard culture over time given the illogical policies of the CDCR. Fault for such a cultural transplantation cannot be found with mayor Quan nor any other mayor, for this has been a persistent pattern for over thirty-seven years and has grown under the tenure of every mayor during that period.

My criticism is that there is fault to be shared with criminals. The CDCR lacks rational creativity; its administrators continue to roll the same old parole policy ball down the court even though that ball is flat. But why continue a policy that is so destructive to local communities? I posit that most of the administrators of the CDCR graduate from the lower ranks of the correctional officers and so they inherit the same policy ball and do not question the direction in which they are rolling it. However, if we assume that some do see the illogic of CDCR policies yet persist in the application of them then the real motive is to make the African America neighborhoods de-facto concentration camps under the guise of  ‘reentry’ back into the community.


MURDER ON THE YARD by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Four police officers were murdered and one wounded in Oakland in 2009 in broad daylight; a three year old child was gunned down in August 2011; a father was beaten to death in front of his son in broad daylight; in 2007, journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered in broad daylight; more children were shot in 2012; and the number of shootings and homicide continue to rise in the city of Oakland, 131 for the year 2012.  As of December 2012, the murder rate constituted a 42% percent increase over 2010.  And over 37 years has an average of 109 murders per year.
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In Oakland, the vast majority of homicide victims and perpetrators are African American. Citizens wonder: why?  The answer is not so obvious; but there is an answer. There is a reason. It is not primarily because of guns.  It is because a slow cultural transplantation has taken place in the city of Oakland, California and in other urban areas throughout the nation where African Americans live. One culture has been taken from prison and transplanted onto cities such as Oakland while it is displacing traditional culture in the communities at large.

The African American culture is not the same culture today that emerged from the post civil war slave plantation culture. That culture was driven by freed men and women who envisioned hope in their future.  Rather, this other culture is a culture of parolees who are never set free from their bondage to punishment and who thus never have their hope in a future rekindled.

Their culture is a prison yard culture. It is that prison yard culture they participate in; it is not a vital culture.  Parolees live devitalized and dependent lives because they are prescribed the role of social burden and they know it.  They feel it every day and night.  It is painful to them.

The prison yard culture is a transplanted culture having many collateral effects on many individuals in many communities because of an increasing incarceration rate over the past thirty-seven years.  There are many examples. Oakland, California, is one where for more than 37 years layer upon layer and generation after generation of parolees have been compelled to live impoverished lives concentrated in small pockets of the city without the full enjoyment of the bill of rights.

That thesis is predicated on the fact that the state parolee population of Alameda County was approximately 3,462 on any given day in 2005 add to that the number of Federal, state Youth Authority parolees, and Alameda County jail probationers over the same period of time and we multiply that number by thirty five (years) we arrive at an approximate figure of 121,170. There are approximately 400,000 people who live in Oakland.  In 2005 there were 1,508 on parole.  Do the math.

What we are dealing with is the likelihood that about twenty percent of Oakland’s population has been incarcerated or in jail at some time over the past thirty-five years. In some areas of the city that percent is even higher.  We are also faced with the horrific fact that over 30 percent of the Oakland population has suffered a murdered relative or friend.  Such deep and pervasive sorrow sours the very core of interpersonal relations in the city.  Oakland is made up of thousands of depressed individuals.  For that reason a pall hangs over the city as thick as smog as hundreds of processions carrying the dead flow through its streets every year and there is no indication that it will subside within any reasonable time.

All institutions are feeling the stress of the prison yard culture; poor families cannot carry the burden it puts upon them. Even Congress has been tinkering with a ‘Second Chance Act’ because the widespread discrimination of ex-felons is shoring up the prison yard culture and causing it to burst all social levees such as prisons, jails, parole, and probation departments.  AB 109 signed into law on April 5th 2011 will increase the rate of cultural disintegration in Oakland because the county jail ‘levees’ will not hold for long because over 90% of the persons incarcerated return to society, eventually.

It is causing a facial change in the communities, too, as more armed guards make constitutionally free communities take on the visage of controlled environments like prison. Citizens are more likely than ever before to look up and see armed guards in traditionally safe zones like schools, hospitals, supermarkets, and restaurants.  They too are beginning to feel the paradox of their ‘guarded liberty’. They are beginning to feel occupied.  They are beginning to apply the concept of a ‘dead zone’ to their neighborhoods.

Moreover, such environments incubate the prison yard culture mind-set because it is that environment which submerges their constitutional freedoms to the demands of police necessity.  It has turned police officers into jailers; it has turned their oath of service and protection to community into a visceral obsessive compulsion to control everyone. Their fear of wrongdoers is now greater than the fear wrongdoers have of them. We should not be surprised; such is the guard-convict syndrome. It too has become a characteristic of the transplanted culture. It now is a permanent characteristic of those who live in neighborhoods throughout Oakland.

The police, surrounded by a community of mistrusted parolees, cease to trust ‘the public’ because that public is often predominantly the offspring of the prison yard cultural mindset.  So, they cease to serve the ‘public’ because they do not recognize it as a community of freedmen and women. That community has become indistinguishable from the mass of marginalized parolees.   The police community then becomes an island unto itself as socially marginalized as the parolees and equally mistrusted and dangerous to the citizens they serve.  For example, on August 13, 2011, a homeless man raised a stick in the presence of an Oakland police officer.  That man was shot dead.  It’s happening everywhere; sometimes phrased as ‘stand your ground’; ‘he was wearing a hood’; ‘he was sagging’. All are but a pretext to murder; a justification, usually to murder African American youth who are presumed to be of the more than 25% who have been incarcerated.

Here is exactly where the prison yard culture thrives because it feeds on repressive environments where freedom is sacrificed in the name of punishment.  It is a culture not of disclosure but of criminal conspiracy and solicitation.  It is an environment in which the yard is divided into antagonistic forces. Each submerged in their conspiracies to denigrate the other.  This avalanche cannot be stopped soon.

The tipping point was reached years ago.  As a consequence, traditional cultures such as that in the African American community, already supported by weak infrastructures such as the family most of which have been ripped to shreds, are being displaced by values which originate in the prison yard culture.  The African American culture is no longer a traditional culture.  It is a cultural hybrid of contradictory and contrary value tendencies. It is gangster rap and church choir with a macabre blend of lyrics and rhythm set to high pitch sirens of police cars and ambulances.  Old Icons have fallen.  They do not resonate with youth.

African American culture is no longer traditional because traditional icons no longer inspire hope and because it can no longer effectively regenerate its values through its offspring.  It cannot pass on a vision of the future-its future, because it does not claim a vision of itself.  It cannot see itself in the future.

The prison yard culture is more efficient and effective in transmitting its values to successive generations because its icons are simple and tied to the visceral impulse of its children.  Guns, the snitch principle, baptism in prison as its rite of passage to its form of manhood, and its public vision through mass media give to it a commanding voice. ‘Sagging’ is in, everywhere. The children sign up on visiting day at the prison; they adapt to it. They have a passion for the lifestyle it engenders.

So another culture has taken root. It is denied to the peril of every citizen. It is the product of irrational social forces which have raged in the African American community for over forty years.  In its wake, families, schools, churches, and governments have been laid economically and morally wasted.

Its seed, found in the dark hollows of prison, have found a fertile place to germinate and to grow undisturbed for two generations in historically dysfunctional prison cultures.

The same prison yard culture spreads its germinated seeds far and wide to every city. It has given rise to anti-culture. But what is anti-culture?  It is nihilism.  That means ‘the end’ because it is the negation of all that traditional culture has stood for and now feebly stands for as it is locked in the corner of the ring being beaten to death.  It is not social change but the negation of any social change at all because it allows for no vital social functioning.

It is the inversion of traditional culture.  It is ‘not being culture’ which consist of anti-values, that is, to be neither moral nor immoral but rather ‘not to value’ at all.  It is ‘not to work’ as the value to be exchanged for value; that is to take from others and give nothing in return.  It is ‘not respect for life’ but to drive the devaluation of life to utter nothingness. It is death.

The prison yard culture has its ritual.  Its ritual of human devaluation is murder.  Only the act of murder accomplishes the nothingness at the heart of its own being; its being is passé. That is because nothingness is the mirror image of the dead soul without the possibility for life.

Their dead souls have neither hope in the King dream nor in the democratic vision. They do not foresee a prosperous economic future for themselves either; it is the utter suspension of all anticipation and imaginative free-flow.  It is ‘not being’; it is nothingness which drives them.  This is what an increasing number of socially disabled parolees feel every officially damned day and night. Their epitaph is: ‘I don’t give a fuck’.  And if you ever meet one enraged you had better believe it because they mean just that.  That is why the city is dysfunctional.

Intelligent people in government especially the demographic statisticians could foresee the prospect of our current predicament forty years ago.  They could see it in the numbers as clearly as we can see the glaciers on Greenland melting in real time. Yet, it happened. It happened because those politicians and corporate interests sought short term political and monetary gain rather than heed the long term warnings of social disaster. Now, it is a disaster.

Psychologists have long ago established that there is a correlation between frustration and aggression.  So, we should not be surprised at the thirty year consistency of the murder rate in Oakland and other major cities.  If public policy aims to protect the public health, safety, welfare, and morals, then those in charge of public policy formulation and implementation have been and are at least incompetent in their positions and at most complicit in the furtherance of the prison yard culture and thus acts of murder.  In either case they should be recalled from office and they should be recalled from office by the public right now.


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