Pick a leader who will make their citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people, so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader's greatness. Only then will a nation be truly great, when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honorable decision makers and peacemakers. And in these times, a great leader must be extremely brave. Their leadership must be steered only by their conscience, not a bribe.

~ Suzy Kassem

While stationed in Fort Jackson, I experienced racial prejudice for the first time and came to the understanding that humans are not born with prejudice, but learn prejudice. Back home in South Dakota, I only knew one black American. The Scandinavians in my community treated him just like any other Swede; my family considered him a friend. My parents taught me, and I believed that all men are equal because God created all men in His image.One day during a week end furlough, I boarded a crowded city bus. As I walked down the aisle, I looked for an open seat. Looking towards the rear of the bus, I noticed three huge, young black men sitting on a bench in the back. I decided to squeeze onto the bench with them. As I sat down, a woman said in a very loud voice, What is that white soldier doing in our part of the bus?Neither my life experiences nor my education prepared me for what I experienced walking the streets of Fort Jackson. I saw water fountains for whites only, barbershops for blacks only, and separation for most aspects of Southern living. I discovered that the feelings of prejudice ran deeply amongst many of the people that we encountered. In fact, the blacks even trained separately from the whites during our military preparation, even though we all worked towards defending the United States of America.

~ Oliver Omanson

Because the drug war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, when drug offenders are released, they are generally returned to racially segregated ghetto communities--the places they call home. In many cities, the re-entry phenomenon is highly concentrated in a small number of neighborhoods. According to one study, during a twelve-year period, the number of prisoners returning home to core counties--those counties that contain the inner city of a metropolitan area--tripled. The effects are felt throughout the United States. In interviews with one hundred residents of two Tallahassee, Florida communities, researchers found that nearly every one of them had experienced or expected to experience the return of a family member from prison. Similarly, a survey of families living in the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago found that the majority of residents either had a family member in prison or expected one to return from prison within the next two years. Fully 70 percent of men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five in the impoverished and overwhelmingly black North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's West Side are ex-offenders, saddled for life with a criminal record. The majority (60 percent) were incarcerated for drug offenses. These neighborhoods are a minefield for parolees, for a standard condition of parole is a promise not to associate with felons. As Paula Wolff, a senior executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020 observes, in these ghetto neighborhoods, It is hard for a parolee to walk to the corner store to get a carton of milk without being subject to a parole violation.

~ Michelle Alexander