Okay ~ so have you heard this one? It just cracks me up.
A District Attorney (DA), a lawyer and a Social Scientist (SS) walk into a bar. They pull up to the bar and each sits on a stool. The DA sits on a stool in the middle of the two ladies. The SS is to his right. The DA leans forward and orders a beer. The SS calls for a whiskey on the rocks. The lawyer’s wants a rum and coke.
Anyway, so the DA looks at the SS through the mirror at the back of the bar and says, “So what do you want me to do? They commit the crime, they do the time! My DAs don’t come in to work every day saying – I wonder how many Black people I’m going to lock up today! That’s not how it works people! My job is to keep the public safe of these criminals. I don’t want to be locking up people. This is not something I like, but I have a job to do. You lock them up and keep the public safe. What they need is education. You can’t expect to get a job or hold a job with a sixth-grade education. Fix the damn education system. That’ll keep half of them out the system.”
Well, by this time the drinks arrive. The DA takes a gulp of his beer. He’s got foam all around his moustache. He is pissed. He swallows hard. The SS dips her finger into her whiskey drowning one of the blocks of ice. She is contemplative. The lawyer draws hard on her straw.
One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand… You could feel the dead, tense air drawn into your nostril.
The lawyer pulls the straw from her pursed lips, looks aimlessly straight ahead and says, “All I know is that we should be ashamed. We look at this disparity in our jails, and we should be ashamed. I am fed up with placing it on someone else. It’s the parents. It’s the children. Where is your culpability? How can you just sit there and defend this crap? How can you do nothing? This is painfully embarrassing. We must be embarrassed! Every one of us should be embarrassed into action!”
The DA does not shift. He looks into his drink and takes another gulp. He looks down the counter at the bartender and knocks his half-emptied glass calling for a refill. “I’ve got a job to do” he says under his breath. “Give me an option. I let them out, they hurt somebody…then what?”
Silence. Deathly silence.
The SS holds her drink with both hands on the counter, turns toward the DA and says with the sweetest of tones. She clearly wants to acknowledge his pain…if only having to sit between these two. She leans in, arms touching lightly and says; “You know, that’s actually not what the data says. Honestly, if you control for education level…if you take education completely out of the mix, there is still a disproportional number of Blacks in jail. It comes down only slightly, but it is a significant difference. So there is something else happening here.”
The DA empties his glass and hands it over to be refilled. The SS touches his arm ever so lightly. He shudders. He doesn’t want to be touched – not now…not by her – not by either of them.
She continues; “And the way we’re doing it right now is not making the public safer either! Which is weird. You think you lock ‘em up and it’s all good, but it’s quite the reverse. You lock ‘em up, there are three kids with no adult running around potentially getting in trouble. All it does is ensure that the cycle is maintained. It is actually the inverse. So public safety is not served at all.”
She pauses and continues:”Now – Building jails is good business. You build jails and you fill them, you keep a lot of people employed and a lot of people disenfranchised. The jail system is a really good stock to invest in.”
Not another word is spoken. The women finish their drinks, step down from their stools and exit the bar leaving the DA to warm his beer and cold his palms – angry. Pissed off! Determined!
HE IS NOT GOING TO LOSE ANY VOTES AND ANY SLEEP ON THIS ISSUE.
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