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February 27, 2015

"A Second Chance: Education's Role in Reversing Mass Incarceration"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Atlantic commentary by Irwin Weathersby.  Here is how it starts: 

The American Journal of Men’s Health published a study this month titled "I Want a Second Chance" that explores the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated men as they seek to redeem themselves in the eyes of their children and society.  The research questions of the study sought to illustrate the unique circumstances of African American men: "What are the daily experiences of reentry for African American men?  What identities are African American men in reentry negotiating? What are the experiences of fatherhood for African American men in reentry? What are the experiences of their participation in a reentry program?  The findings of the focus group featured in the study reveal a collective desire to provide for themselves and to be looked upon with dignity so that their lives can regain value.  At the core of what they want most is simply to be regarded differently. As an educator who has worked closely with this population, I am convinced that their desires can be achieved through education: Formerly incarcerated men must learn to embrace methods of self-improvement, and Americans must learn to empathize and restore their citizenship.

Imagine the impact of this not-so-radical idea — if our American gaze of formerly incarcerated black men was altered — at a time when this country is fractured among race and class lines that are as bright and conspicuous as new scars.  Just this month another politician has become embroiled in controversy after an off-color portrait of the president; another unarmed black man was killed at the hands of a police officer; another wrongfully convicted black man was awarded millions of dollars in retribution after his sentence was vacated; another black man’s family was awarded millions of dollars in a settlement for his wrongful death while incarcerated; another formerly incarcerated black man was likely denied a job due to the 50-percent decrease in callback rate for applicants with criminal records.  Another day of Black History month has borne witness to our persistent troubles.

According to an article written by Amy L. Solomon and published by the National Institute of Justice, an estimated 13 million people in the U.S. are admitted to and released from local jails.  And more than 700,000 people are admitted to and released from state and local prisons each year, with men accounting for more than three-fourths of those arrested.  The numbers are even more staggering for African Americans, who comprise almost 40 percent of the entire prison population.  But even more troubling is the fact that, on any given day, one in 15 black men are in prison.  And among young African American men — those ages 20 through 34 — the ratio lowers further to one in nine.  "In fact, young, male African American high-school dropouts have higher odds of being in jail than being employed," Solomon reports.  These shameful statistics suggest that creating channels of reentry are imperative.

February 27, 2015 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Doug, mass incarceration is becoming the social issue du jour. My daughter is a sophomore at Dartmouth and has just enrolled in a course next semester called "Prisons and Mass Incarceration."

Never thought I see this level of attention to this important issue

bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Feb 27, 2015 9:41:29 PM

Bruce. Please keep us posted on the lying lawyer propaganda your daughter is being force fed by the horrible Hate America traitors in the Ivy league. Please, invite her to read this blog. Although it too can use a full Truth Squad, at least it allows some dissent. The appalling pro-criminal assholes here drove off the sole licensed lawyer advocating for the substantive crime victim right to not be victimized. But this is a very rare place to hear the shocking truth about crime in America, as a business plan in lawyer rent seeking.

So many people have asked me to write my book on the law, I may actually start a two volume work, on its serious problems, across all law subjects, and on its remedies. I may be spending more time away from the comments.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 28, 2015 12:05:05 AM

What needs to be done for the inmates that have the capability and interest, is to get them thru a 2 yr trade school. Welding, drafting, cRpentry, cement (ouch), auto repair, microsoft sweet, excell, word, outlook and a few ithers.

Give them a skill so they have a life. For those that can, drive them to a community college.

This is how I would like my prison tax dollirs spent. Better than bringing in all the illegals and let them take the jobs and the entitlements. Then these people pay raxs and contribute to social security. What a novel idea. Ask the repubs and dems if ghey ever had thoughts in that direction. Get a degree and get out real early.

Posted by: 187Midwest Guy | Feb 28, 2015 11:39:30 AM

187. No jobs available, even if they have a frickin' PhD. Employers are intimidated by hiring regulations, intimidated by circling tort lawyers waiting to sue them for negligent hiring and entrustment. So all this training is 100% a waste of time. Thank the lawyers tyrant.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 28, 2015 11:54:55 PM

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