In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught ’em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom,
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’.
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished,
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance,
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence.
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now’s the time for your tears.
“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” by Bob Dylan
It is Social Justice Awareness Week at KUST and Great River Radio is focusing on discrimination in America’s criminal justice system. Our country
has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, at 762 inmates per 100,000 population. Has this policy of “mass incarceration” lead tofewer crimes? Not according to statistics collected by The Sentencing Project, a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration. Not only does mass incarceration not lead to a decline in crime, imprisonment is not equally administered across our population. Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives, while white males have a 6% chance of being jailed. There are striking differences in the younger population, where one in ten black males between 25 and 29 was in prison or jail in 2008 compared to one in sixty three white men in the same age group. (www.sentencingproject.org)
Our playlist this week will provide a soundtrack for the problems in the American criminal justice system. From the blues songs written about “Parchman Farm”, the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi which has housed blues musicians Bukka White and Son House, to Loretta Lynn singing about a woman’s perspective to Johnny Cash doing what is probably the most famous song about prison, we’ll be hearing music that reflects America’s response to crime over the years. Woody Guthrie and Howlin’ Wolf, along with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen will be represented, as well as songs from the Clash, Nelly and Santogold & Jay-Z. We’ll hear about Billy Bragg’s effort called “Jail Guitar Doors” in which he gives guitars to prisoners as a tool of rehabilitation.
Listen today 4-6 p.m. and consider the many aspects of life in prison in the US and the ways that it is both represented by and relieved by music.
Old Dollar Mamie-Negro Prison Blues and Songs (Alan Lomax)
Parchman Farm-Parchman Prison Band
Parchman Prison Blues-Bukka White
Parchman Farm-John Mayall
Vigilante Man- Bruce Springsteen
Kings Highway-Joe Henry
Smoking gun-Robert Cray
Holloway Jail-The Kinks
Women’s Prison-Loretta Lynn
I Oppose the Death Penalty (Monologue)-Steve Earle
Over Yonder (Jonathon’s Song)-Steve Earle
Sing Me Back Home-Flying Burrito Brothers
In The Jailhouse Now-Soggy Bottom Boys
Folsom Prison Blues-Johnny Cash
King of the Jailhouse-Aimee Mann
Forty Four-Howlin’ Wolf
If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day-Robert Johnson
Another Man Done Gone-Odetta
Blue Wing-Dave Alvin
Redemption Song-Bob Marley
Brooklyn Go Hard-Santogold/Jay-Z