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Samuel L. Jackson asks, "What Would Your World Look Like Without LDF?"
It is important to resist the urge to embrace this oversimplified interpretation of the 2008 Presidential Election. To be sure, significant work still lies ahead. Notwithstanding the election of President Obama, the severe challenges facing African Americans remains daunting. Racial minorities in the United States continue to suffer from deplorable public schools, chronic unemployment, substandard housing and healthcare, intense residential segregation, and striking rates of over-incarceration. Clearly, discrimination has not been eliminated, as some contend; rather, it remains an integral component of complex and enduring social and political systems that promote racial inequality. One such system lies at the heart of our democracy: voting and elections.
Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, parents and community leaders have repeatedly petitioned courts throughout the country, demanding that the judiciary give life and meaning to Brown by ordering recalcitrant school districts to dismantle their racially segregated school systems.
Since 1994, the State of Mississippi has allowed juvenile offenders to be sentenced to life without parole. In Mississippi, children as young as thirteen may receive such a sentence. The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has identified 25 young men serving a sentence of life without parole in Mississippi.
Shortly after the 2010 Census, states throughout the country will redraw the lines that determine how to divide the population of each state into electoral districts—a process called redistricting. The composition of a district affects election outcomes and determines representation at the federal, state, and local levels. In most states, redistricting is carried out by members of the legislature. But on the eve of the quickly approaching 2010 redistricting cycle, voters and elected officials in a number of states across the country are considering a range of proposals that aim to alter the redistricting process. One such proposal is to create Independent Redistricting Commissions (IRCs). An IRC is a committee composed of appointed officials who assume responsibility for redistricting within a state.
Criminal justice policy in the United States has for some time now spurned rehabilitation in favor of long and often permanent terms of incarceration, manifesting an overarching belief that there is no need to address root causes of crime and that many people who have committed crimes can never be anything but “criminals.” These policies have served to isolate and remove a massive number of people, a disproportionately large percentage of whom are people of color, from their communities and from participation in civil society.
Most state and local governments count incarcerated persons as residents of the prison communities where they are incarcerated when drawing election district lines, despite the fact that prisoners are not integrated into those communities and are not residents there.