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A Holyoke man is being accused of making bombs in his home garage.

Gregory Bennett, of Pleasant Street in Holyoke, is being charged with four counts of possession of illegal incendiary devices, according to MassLive.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, a section of Pleasant Street was evacuated to allow law enforcement officials to investigate and clear Bennett’s home of alleged bomb-making material.

Bennett is the son of a former Holyoke police seargent, Gary Bennett.

Police were tipped off to the potential bomb threat by Bennett’s brother, Jason, according to the newspaper. Jason Bennett had stopped by the Pleasant Street home, which is owned by Gary Bennett, to fix his bike when he noticed a suspicious-looking bag in the garage. When he looked inside, Bennett allegedly saw what appeared to be black cylinders wrapped in electric tape and sporting wicks.

During a search of the house, law enforcement officials allegedly found manipulated fireworks and spent shell casings.

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New study shows how racial disparities in mass incarceration drive economic inequality, too

The mass incarceration system is creating generational poverty—and since the criminal justice system disproportionately targets Black people, it’s a driver of Black poverty, building on the economic legacies of slavery and segregation. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Brennan Center.

A massive number of people are or have been involved in the criminal justice system: The report estimates that 7.7 million people alive now have been imprisoned at some point, 12.1 million have been convicted of a felony but not imprisoned, and 45 million people have been convicted of a misdemeanor. And people in all of those categories see their lifetime earnings dramatically reduced as a result.

You might think that people who’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor wouldn’t take much of an earnings hit, but they do—an average of 16% a year. People who’ve been convicted of a felony but not imprisoned lose an average of 22% a year. And for people who’ve been imprisoned, it’s 52%.

“The reduced earnings compound over the course of a lifetime. On average, formerly imprisoned people earn nearly half a million dollars less over their careers than they might have otherwise,” the report’s authors write. “These losses are borne disproportionately by people already living in poverty, and they help perpetuate it.”

For people who’ve been imprisoned, that’s a drop from already very low earnings for people similar to them, the comparison group for the study: “This report estimates that formerly imprisoned people earn around $6,700 annually, while their peers earn around $13,800.” An earnings gap that starts immediately after an incarcerated person is released only grows: “average formerly imprisoned people will start their careers earning roughly $7,100 less than their peers annually, and end them trailing their peers by more than $20,000 annually.” But of course lifetime earnings loss is not equal. White people lose about $267,000 over a lifetime after release from prison, the study estimates, while for Black people it’s $358,900 and for Latino people it’s $511,500. 

This lifetime earnings loss, the study’s authors note, “does not account for missed opportunities for additional wealth generation, from Social Security benefits to accrued interest on retirement accounts to forgone investment opportunities. These factors, taken together, demonstrate that imprisonment sets up people who are already disadvantaged for a profound loss of wealth and closes off pathways to upward economic mobility.”

The United States has long had major racial disparities in household wealth, with white families having significantly more wealth to pass along to their children than do Black or Latino families. A criminal justice system that targets Black and Latino people, leading in turn to a serious loss of lifetime earnings, drives that wealth gap even further.

But the study has a closing note that provides a powerful reminder of how racism twists our economic system even if you omit the disproportionate targeting of Black and Latino people by law enforcement. Echoing earlier research by the late sociologist Devah Pager, “this report’s estimates suggest that, for those who are otherwise socioeconomically similar, Black men and women with no history of conviction or imprisonment earn less than white men and women with a conviction record. By the end of a career … white men and women with a conviction earn about $49,000 a year on average, eclipsing the $39,000 a year that Black people with no conviction earn over the same period.”

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