With the endorsement of Joe McNamara for
Judge on The Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, the Lucas
County Dems appears to have finally gotten it right.
Although blacks constitute a mere 12 percent
of the population, they represent approximately 50 percent
of prison inmates and receive longer sentences for the same
offenses committed by whites. This unfair, targeted
over-incarceration of black and brown men and women has
perhaps, more than anything else, helped to perpetuate the
tragic collateral consequences of structural inequality’s
grip on the black community.
Yet, the pipeline from the black community to
jail and its negative social, economic, environmental and
racial impact doesn’t begin in the prisons. Mass
incarceration and the resulting devastation heaped on black
individuals, children and families starts in the courts with
the application of the law and how cases are handled. Thus,
it is critical to hire prosecutors and elect judges who are
evaluated, not by number or rate of convictions, but rather,
by their passion for justice or fairness.
Too much of the talk concerning local
criminal justice reform
on obtaining dollars from the federal government or
philanthropy. All the while, the shot-calling
decision-makers give a wink and a nod while the
African-American community becomes the poster child for
social and economic pathology.
McNamara, a progressive Democrat and graduate
of the University of Michigan and New York University Law
School, deserves support from the community. Unlike most, he
understands how institutionalized racism in the criminal
justice system perpetuates the criminalization of the poor
and, in return, the cycle of poverty. Joe also seems to have
a passion for making the system fair, finding ways of
keeping people out of prison and helping returning citizens
or ex-offenders find the resources necessary to restore
their dignity and reconnect them to the community so that
they are less likely to return to prison.
At a time when there is only one justice from
the Democratic Party currently represented on the Ohio
Supreme Court (soon to step down to run for governor), it is
urgent to build a bench of judicial candidates that can
provide some balance to the high court’s staunch
conservatism. McNamara has the fundraising ability and the
aggressive style necessary to compete and serve as a fair,
wise and good judge for the next 30 years.
For too long, we have been too indifferent,
too unmoved and too undisturbed about inequality in Toledo.
It is time to put forward a passion for fairness.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at