The high cost of injustice

What if we didn’t incarcerate people who commit non-violent crimes? Or, if we sentenced them, what if their sentences were reasonable, instead of intolerable? What if a man who steals a $159 jacket while high gets drug treatment and a sentence of, say, two years, instead of a sentence of life imprisonment without parole? How much would we save if legally mandated minimum sentences were modified and nonviolent drug offenses were more reasonably imposed?

Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project says that eliminating more than 79,000 bed years, or the amount of time a prisoner uses a bed in prison, could save at least $2.4 billion. That’s enough to send nearly a million students to college if the $25,000 covers the cost of attendance (which it does for most state schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities). It could put nearly half a million teachers in underserved K-12 schools. It could restore availability to libraries and parks. Instead, we spend it incarcerating people, particularly those who are locked up for relatively minor crimes.

The $2.4 billion that the Sentencing Project has calculated may be a low estimate. According to the Justice Department more than $80 billion is spent on incarceration annually. How much of this spending is unnecessary and could be easily converted to drug treatment and recovery? Why do we find it so easy to incarcerate people but so difficult to rehabilitate them, knowing that the recidivism rates are high?

Within five years of incarceration, more than three-quarters are rearrested. Most were arrested for property crimes, not for drug offenses, or violent offenses. Much of the property crime could be alleviated if it was easier for ex-offenders to find employment, but after incarceration, many find the doors of employment slammed in their faces. Incarceration combined with education and societal embrace might reduce recidivism and the level of property crime.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are moving in the right direction. First, the president moved to reform drug sentencing laws, reducing the discrepancy between crack and powdered cocaine. This resulted in the Smarter Sentencing Act, which has yet to be scheduled for a vote in Congress and the Senate, despite bipartisan support for this legislation. Advocates of the bill, including the ACLU, the Sentencing Project, the NAACP and many others support the legislation and have encouraged people to reach out to their Congressional representatives to push for a vote on this legislation.

The Smarter Sentencing Act, when approved, will make modifications in sentencing requirements. Now, the US Sentencing Commission has ruled that those with drug sentences and be applied retroactively. This will affect as many as 46,000 prisoners. It’s not enough, but it’s a reasonable first step. If release were combined with education and access to employment, recidivism rates would certainly decrease.

The United States represents just five percent of the world population, but incarcerates more than a quarter of the world’s incarcerated. Nearly half of those incarcerated in federal prisons are African American. Is there a bias here? African Americans are as likely as whites to commit nonviolent drug related crimes, but African Americans are far more likely to be incarcerated. The difference— the money that provides access to great legal services; maybe the attraction of a plea bargain, guilty or not, because of the prospect of an unfair sentence; maybe bias on the part of arresting officers. Whatever the cause, it seems unfathomable that African Americans and whites commit the same crimes, but African Americans are arrested six times as frequently as whites.

If you read a November 2013 A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses from the ACLU, you won’t know whether to scream or cry.

More than 3,200 people have life sentences without parole for such minor offences such as shoplifting, trying to cash a stolen check and threatening a police officer while handcuffed. Some are sentenced because of sentencing guidelines, which mean judges have no choice in their sentencing. What makes sense about giving a shoplifter more time than a murderer?

As many as 65 percent of those who have been sentenced to life without parole are African American. According to the ACLU, “many were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation.” Only in an unjust system can this be considered “just.”

There has been some progress in making sentencing fairer. Yet much more must be done until we can claim the “justice” that our Constitution promises.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina

From homeless to Morehouse: Bank of America program helps Baltimore student dream

— It wasn’t that long ago that Shawn Key was homeless. The 18-year-old from Baltimore doesn’t talk much about that aspect of his life, except to say that, “sometimes, homelessness happens.”

Evodie Ngoy

(Courtesy Photo: Bank of America)

Evodie Ngoy

However, Shawn never wavered in his determination and he never lost sight of the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of so fervently decades before he was born.

“King was one of the greatest leaders of all time and I want to follow in his footsteps,” said Key, graduated Patterson High School and has been accepted to Morehouse College. He says that will major in political science because it’ll be a means to helping his community as much as he possibly can.

He’ll also take up a minor in sociology because, during his research of Dr. King, he found that the civil rights icon also went to Morehouse and studied that same subject.

“The best way to help the community is to do it through the bigger issues,” the teen said. “And, in a real sense, the way to really address many of the issues we face in our community is through the justice system and political science undoubtedly leads to law.”

Earlier this summer, Key was named as one five Bank of America Student Leaders, who are selected for a three-month, fully paid internship at Teach for America in Baltimore.

As part of being a Student Leader, Key also participated in a weeklong leadership summit in Washington, D.C., where he and others say that the experience was life changing.

“It’s a wonderful learning experience and I love learning; and I love meeting the type of wonderful people we’ve met through the Bank of America program,” said Evodie Ngoy, 17, a senior at Digital Harbor High School.

A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngoy is a filmmaker at Wide Angle Youth Media where she also volunteers. Her films are focused on violence, bullying and the difficult transition refugee students have adapting to America’s culture.

“I want to continue in film making and, in the future I plan to go back to the Congo and build a school in my father’s village. I want every kid in the village to be able to have that education. I want to be part of those people that make children who are not fortunate enough and I want to help to make their dreams become valid and make it a reality,” said Ngoy, who has won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations from Princeton University and first prize for Student Documentary at the 6th Annual International WAMNFEST.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Bank of America Student Leaders program, which is part of the bank’s ongoing commitment to help the unemployed and the underserved get the training and education they need to secure and keep jobs, with a particular focus on connecting youth to employment opportunities.

Since 2004, more than 2,000 teens have been recognized as Student Leaders across the country.

Despite gains in the overall job market, teens still have the highest unemployment rate nationwide, which rose to 21 percent in June, up from 19.2 percent the prior month, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Research indicates that teens who are gainfully employed have lower dropout rates, are more likely to continue their education to pursue long-term career goals and ultimately show an increase in lifetime earning potential.

“We know that when young adults succeed their community thrives,” David Millman, Maryland and Baltimore Market President, Bank of America, said in a news release.

“As teens in Baltimore once again face a tough time finding summer jobs, our Student Leaders program connects them to valuable experience in today’s competitive workforce and helps them build a solid foundation for future financial success.”

For Shawn and Evodie, they are already enjoying the success the program intended for students.

“Even if you just look at them taking us to D.C. for the summit where I met so many people,” Key said. “But, of all the dignitaries and others who were there, what I remember and cherish most is the fact that I met 224 like-minded intellectuals who were of one accord and who are all trying to do positive things for their communities. It was a wow moment!”

Indie Soul Review: Chef

Favreau, who also directed the film, plays Carl Casper whose only passion in life is cooking and trying to be a better father to his son played by Emjay Anthony.

Casper wants to be creative and bring fun excitement to what he prepares but his money hungry boss, Riva, played by Dustin Hoffman, objects and wants Casper to stick with what’s been working for the last five years. When a well known food critic, Ramsey Michel (played by Oliver Platt), stops by for a review, he trashes not only the menu but Casper as well. As events spiral out of control, Casper must decide what is most important in his life: working for someone who doesn’t appreciate his talent or finding happiness working for himself.

“Chef” is about self-discovery, relationships, and finding out what is important in life. If you love food and cooking, you will enjoy this. The soundtrack was awesome mixed with some old school flavor and Cuban music! Checkout the movie-trailer on our Facebook Page: .

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or 410-501-0193 or email: Follow him on Twitter@lfpmedia.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake announces grand opening of ShopRite Grocery in Howard Park

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, state and local elected officials, and representatives from grocery partner ShopRite Grocery celebrated the grand opening of the city’s largest supermarket—and the first in the Howard Park community in more than a decade.


Shoppers line up at the new ShopRite in Howard Park

The ShopRite Grocery will offer Howard Park residents healthy food options, as well as access to a pharmacy, health suite, bakery, and Halal butcher. The supermarket will employ 282 workers, 44 percent of whom will be full-time employees.

Funeral services announced for Arnold Jolivet

— Arnold M. Jolivet, who worked tirelessly as a champion and crusader for minority-owned businesses, died Sunday at Sinai Hospital.

Family members did not immediately disclose the cause of death, but reportedly Jolivet’s demise was sudden and unexpected, just days shy of his 72nd birthday.

A fixture at Baltimore’s Board of Estimate meetings, Jolivet in 2012 filed a $30 million lawsuit against the city alleging that officials had awarded more than 40 no-bid contracts totaling about $250 million which effectively froze out minority contractors, according to published reports.

“The mayor doesn’t seem to want to work with the minority contractors, particularly the African-American community,” Jolivet said at the time he filed the suit.

In action sparked by Jolivet, the Maryland Transportation Administration announced in 2012 that it was trying to boost minority business involvement in two multi-million Para-transit contracts worth $42 million that had previously failed to achieve a required 25 percent minority business enterprise goal.

The deficiencies came to light when Jolivet, serving as managing director of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, brought the issue to the attention of the Board of Public Works.

At a meeting with public works officials, Jolivet said he understood that the board was being, “placed between a rock and a hard place” in terms of what was an ongoing contract for services that were obviously needed.

However, Jolivet said, “In both cases, they have willfully ignored the minority business enterprise provisions. Send a message that is loud and clear that the minority business utilization goal is a very important part of the contract for the board, the MTA and the whole state of Maryland will fully intend that the contractor will comply with it,” he demanded.

If nothing else, Jolivet’s activism on the part of minority businesses forced local and state officials to take a hard look at their practices when handing out contracts, particularly more African American contractors have been afforded opportunities because of Jolivet.

Born in Baldwin, Louisiana, Jolivet earned a football scholarship to Morgan State University where he ultimately graduated with a degree in economics and government.

Later, he attended the University of Maryland Law School before accepting a job at the Maryland Equal Opportunity Office.

He then formed the firm, Management Trainers and Consultants and then became the executive director of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association.

Friends and family took to social media to express their sorrow over Jolivet’s death.

“You were a man amongst men, a strong supporter for minority business in Baltimore City, the state of Maryland and nationally,” said Michael A. Graham, the executive vice president at the official Heart & Soul Magazine and president of Graham Communications, Inc.

“Today my heart is saddened and heavy. Arnold was a tireless advocate, friend and champion for minority business and he would fight the business battles for our community,” Graham said. “Sometimes, he would stand alone but he always stood strong.”

Arnold Jolivet Services Information – Please put this on first. Can you add this to the article?

The viewing is Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at Vaughn Greene Funeral Home located 8728 Liberty Rd, from 4-8 p.m. Services will be held August 6, 2014 at Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Avenue. The wake is 10-11 a.m. homegoing 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. followed by interment at Garrison Forest Cemetery.

RAMBLING ROSE: Good wishes and hope for all Baltimore folks

Hello my friends! How are you? The weather has been great hasn’t it? I know my “Boo-Boo” and I have been enjoying it. I have so much to tell you this week and I hope that I will get it all in.

Shirley Duncan, “Baltimore Hand Dancing Queen” finally got her props from her peers. She received an award for being a pioneer in the Hand Dance Community in Baltimore from “The Crew,” headed by Jesse, a popular hand dancing group at Caton Castle.

(Courtesy Photo)

Shirley Duncan, “Baltimore Hand Dancing Queen” finally got her props from her peers. She received an award for being a pioneer in the Hand Dance Community in Baltimore from “The Crew,” headed by Jesse, a popular hand dancing group at Caton Castle.

First of all I want to say that Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP invites you to take a bus/shopping trip to the Cow Town Flea Market and Rodeo in Piles Grove, New Jersey on Saturday, August 9, 2014 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. I am going to tell you now, wear comfortable shoes!— this place is huge with a lot of places to eat and hundreds of vendors that sell everything. Buses will leave from 8 W. 26th Street in Baltimore. For more information or tickets, call Joe Aston 443-226-9459. Now our girl, Tessa informed me that she received the “2014 Thalheimer Award” from the National NAACP at the National Convention recently in Las Vegas. The Thalheimer Award is named after noted Johns Hopkins University educator and philanthropist Dr. Ross Thalheimer and is the top award given to branches for outstanding achievements. So I want to say, “CONGRATS!” my friend, you deserve it.

“The Palovations,” Motown group with Triple Treat, Vision Band and others will do a tribute to Motown & the Philly sound will perform at the newly renovated Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday, August 3, from 55-10 p.m. For tickets and information, call 410-905-0169.

(Courtesy Photo)

“The Palovations,” Motown group with Triple Treat, Vision Band and others will do a tribute to Motown & the Philly sound will perform at the newly renovated Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday, August 3, from 55-10 p.m. For tickets and information, call 410-905-0169.

On Saturday, August 16, 2014, one of my favorite musicians will be headlining the show at the Caton Castle located at 20 South Caton Avenue— the one and only Greg Hatza Organ-ization for Vernard Gray & friend’s birthday celebration. Honey child! Let me tell you what God loves; that will be a hell-la-va show. It will start at 6 p.m.

MJ Productions is hosting a “Black & White Cabaret” on Saturday, August 2, 2014 from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Pikesville Community Center located at 40 E. Sudbrook Lane in Pikesville. Live entertainment will be provided by the Rollex Band and DJ Mike Jones. For tickets, call 443-525-5016.

Jackson & Johnson Memorial Post #263 American Legion is hosting a Crab Feast & Buffet on Saturday, August 2, from 1-5 p.m. at the Patapsco Arena, 3301 Annapolis Road in Baltimore. For details and tickets, call 410-869-7750.

The Red Hat Hons are also hosting a “Summer Crab Feast” catered by the Corinthian Restaurant & Lounge. “The Crab Crew” is: Pat, Gail, Verna, Perk, Brenda, Carlotta, and Janet. The event will take place on Saturday, August 9 from 2-6 p.m. at 7107 Windsor Mill Road. For more information, call Pat Wheatley at 410-922-9231.

Carlos Hutchins, the hardest working club promoter on the east coast and his organization TREA Chapter #9 is running a bus trip to American Legion Post #527 in Rankin, Pennsylvania on Saturday, August 23. Buses leave from Rolling Road in Catonsville, Maryland at 7 a.m. The trip includes, transportation, overnight suite accommodation, the casino and the “Wemco Club’s annual Pig Roast and Barbeque.” For more information, call Billy Settles at 410-504-2571 or Carlos at 443-963-5711

This Saturday, Aug 2, James Hamlin, the owner of the “Avenue Bakery” is hosting another Courtyard Summer Music Series featuring “Campbell & Company Jazz” from 4-8 p.m. at 2229 Pennsylvania Avenue in the Bakery’s Courtyard. It is open and free to the public. Food and drinks are on sale. I will see you there.

Oh my goodness, folks I am out of space, but before I go I want you to keep praying for the sick & shut-ins: Lou Laws a member of the “Bleu Lights”, Milton Dugger’s group is in Good Samaritan Hospital and Phil Towns, a member of the same group is in University Hospital. Milton Dugger, the manager and owner of the “Bleu Lights” R&B group was recently released from the hospital and is home. Get well soon guys.

Remember my friends, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Steve Harvey, Strayer University partner to deliver success through higher education

Strayer University, a leading postsecondary institution for working adults, is pleased to announce a partnership with talk show host and entertainer Steve Harvey, who joins the university in a new initiative aimed at breaking down perceived barriers that can keep individuals from succeeding in their personal and professional lives. Dubbed ‘The Success Project,’ the partnership kicks off a year of national and local activities, which will raise awareness of multiple definitions of and paths to success, and enhance support for working adults pursuing a college degree through success coaching, among others.

“Education is a key to success for many,” said Harvey, whose new book on the principles of setting and reaching high goals— Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success— will be released in September. “But it is important to recognize that there is no one path to earning a college degree nor to success. Working adults who are contemplating going back to school in order to further their careers and improve their lives often stop before they start because they are held back by doubts about whether they can handle it all or fears of being back in school after a long time away.

“Every individual, however, should embrace their unique circumstances, motivations and needs and set educational and life goals that are true to them. I’m proud to partner with Strayer University, which is making a commitment to helping working adults break down their perceived barriers and pursue their dreams of earning a college degree.”

In addition to the partnership with Harvey, The Success Project will introduce a team of professional success coaches who will provide mentoring and support to Strayer University students. Each student— whether they are taking classes at a Strayer University campus or online— will be assigned their own personal success coach, who will assist them with financial advice, goal setting, career advice, time management, and other skills. In addition to helping to increase each student’s opportunity for academic success, coaches will help prepare them for the real-world challenges that are inherent in building a successful career while managing other life priorities.

“We know that college degree holders have lower unemployment, higher salaries, a healthier wellbeing, and they are better positioned to grow their communities and the economy than those without a college degree,” said Dr. Michael Plater, president of Strayer University. “Simply put, education matters, and every working adult who is interested in earning a college degree should have the opportunity to do so. Our new success coach program will help adult students address a range of challenges, for example, caring for young children while earning a degree. Success coaches will help students to find childcare and will advise on healthy and creative ways to balance work, family, and school.”

Top six ways to avoid being a victim of fraud

— More than 25 million Americans are affected each year by fraud or identity theft and the first line of defense against becoming a victim is you. Being an educated consumer is critical to ensuring your financial security and protecting your assets. The more you know, the safer you will be.

Credit card fraud happens when someone gains unwanted access to your financial accounts and/or uses your credit card information to make unauthorized purchases. Less frequently but more damaging, identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personalized information and uses it to take out loans or open accounts in your name.

“Without a doubt, the strongest deterrent to identity theft is the individual consumer,” says Bernard McLaughlin, President and CEO of Point Breeze Credit Union. “We want consumers to know how much power they actually hold to stop identity theft. For example, periodically checking your account transactions online between statements and quickly reporting something that’s not right, can ensure that you get full reimbursement from your financial institution for fraudulent charges and can immediately interrupt the possibility of any further damage.”

Here are six ways to help you be proactive in protecting yourself and avoiding fraud:

Be alert— Stay active in monitoring your accounts and regularly assess your banking risks. Who has access to your account? Are your pin numbers and passwords secure? How regularly are you checking your accounts? If weaknesses are found, put into place higher security controls.

Read your statements carefully— Closely review all your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized or unusual activity. Shred sensitive documents, such as account statements, before disposing of them. Better yet, sign up for eStatements, a safer alternative to paper statements.

Regularly monitor your accounts— Monitor all of your accounts frequently, specifically in between statements, and address any concerns or questionable charges immediately. Online Banking is a great way to keep tabs on your account activity between statements.

Safeguard sensitive information— Do not send your personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, or passwords via email or text. If using mobile banking apps, log out after each use and consider using password protection to lock your phone from unwanted access.

Take advantage of fraud protection— Financial institutions and credit card companies offer special monitoring programs to alert customers of potential fraud. Talk to a customer service representative about what benefits they offer to help you protect yourself from fraud, and always ensure they have your most up-to-date contact information, so a customer service representative can reach you if suspicious activity is suspected.

Protect yourself online— To safeguard yourself online, create strong passwords, install anti-virus software on your desktop and mobile devices, avoid opening emails or downloading files from unknown senders, and log out of your online banking account at the end of each session.

Point Breeze Credit Union offers superior customer service to help you manage your finances safely, including fraud protection support. For more information visit, or call 888-233-7228.