While Delaware has gotten nationwide praise recently for its proposed criminal justice reform, there’s still a long way to go.
Modern American mass incarceration goes all the way back to the Nixon administration in 1968. In a 2016 interview with Harper’s Magazine, former Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, said:
“You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
U.S. incarceration rates, especially for Black and Latino men, skyrocketed in the ’80s and remain disproportionately high, with disproportionately long-term sentences. Delaware’s rate is higher than the U.S. average, affecting over 7,000 families in the state.
Rachelle Wilson is anything but complacent about reforming the system. A teacher at Freire Charter School Wilmington, she’s taken the year off to devote all of her time to the social impact organization she founded, Make Some Intelligent Noise Criminal Justice and Prison Reform Movement (MSIN).
MSIN is a support network for incarcerated individuals and their families that works toward establishing new criminal justice legislation in Delaware, with a website that serves as a portal for news and social media journalism. Earlier this year, Wilson and some of her students met with Gov. John Carney for a roundtable discussion about prison reform.
It will become an incorporated nonprofit by this summer, but the action is happening now. This Sunday, April 7, the organization will hold Ju Ju Juice 4 Justice, a community conversation about criminal justice and prison reform, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Drop Squad Kitchen on the Wilmington Riverfront.
Want to know more? We asked Wilson five questions about her work. Here are the answers:
1. What is Make Some Intelligent Noise?
Make Some Intelligent Noise Criminal Justice and Prison Reform Movement is a movement of information, activism and advocacy for reform from the laws of the Jim Crow and Reconstruction Era that still exists today in American courts and jurisprudence — i.e. mass incarceration.
2. Why did you found it?
I began this movement as a broken-hearted mother crying out for justice, lifting my voice for the liberation of my son, Justyn Wilson. It has now become the bigger picture of educational opportunities and counseling services for EVERY incarcerated person, to prepare them for reentry success as qualified members of society.
3. What is your mission?
My mission is simple, yet it is a battle: My mission is to persuade the legislators and lawmakers to incorporate counseling services and educational opportunities to all incarcerated people.
4. How do you encourage youth to contribute to change via social media?
As a high school media journalism teacher, I realize this is their world now! I engage them by giving them a voice to speak up for how they want their world to exist for them.
5. How can people get involved with MSIN?
Attend the events that encourage your voice! Join in with me at Legislative Hall to let our presentation be heard by the lawmakers. Get involved by joining in! Show up and speak up as one voice!-30-
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