Build a Prison Close a School: 54 schools closed in Chicago (88% black), 23 closed in Philadelphia (81% black), 26 in New York (60% black). What’s the difference between the Democrats and Republicans again I forgot? Hundreds of teachers and school staff are being laid off in two of the largest cities in the country — both run by Democrats. In Chicago and Philadelphia, a total of 4,633 people, including many teachers, will lose their jobs.
Both cities, run by Democrats, claim they are closing schools because they need the money. Yet near both cities, money for prisons is somehow found. In Philadelphia, Republican Governor Tom Corbett magically found $400 million for State Correctional Institutions Phoenix I and II which will be the second most expensive prison complex in the state’s history. But the will to build prisons is not just a Republicans obsession.
Plenty of political energy by various Democrats, and the Obama Administration, is going into continuing to fund federal prisons in Illinois and Chicago. For three years straight, the Obama Administration has requested more money for federal prisons. In this year’s budget request, the Obama Administration asked for a budget increase for the third year in a row. The federal prison budget is now $8.6 billion. Obama has now surpassed Bush in funding prisons and the number of federal prisons incarcerated — 219,000 — half on drug related crimes. The total prison population topped 2 million in 2003 and shows no sign of decreasing even though states are running out of money to jail people.
In Chicago, where 41 people where shot and 7 killed over the weekend, the Clinton Global Initiative discussed many issues: None of them having directly to do with youth or gang violence. Activists may want to take careful note of the fact that it was President Clinton who ushered in a massive crime bill that would help make the U.S. number one in the world in incarceration. The legislation also continued the war on drugs. Will Hillary Clinton, who is all but certain to run in 2016, endorse the same policies?
Thomson Correctional Facility can house 1,800 people. The closing of 54 Chicago Public Schools effected 30,000 students and 850 jobs. Last October, Sen. Durbin announced that the federal government would by the prison for $165,000. The need for jobs is a frequently used justification for building prisons. But how does it make sense to lay off 850 people from the Chicago School System while at the same time spending $170 million prison 150 miles away?
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel yucked it up about the Blackhawks with Bill Clinton on MSNBC last week. Emanuel mentioned “parenting” as a key issue to stop Chicago’s youth violence problem. What he didn’t mention was the lack of funding for prevention and over criminalization in the role of Chicago’s problem. Since Mayor Emanuel is President Obama’s former chief of staff, there is almost no reaction from civil rights “leaders” on the school closing or Chicago’s violence problem. After bragging during the same interview that Chicago’s murder rate has dropped since 2012 — 41 people were shot over father’s day weekend in Chiacgo.