In my opinion, those concerned with justice must lead the fight to re-humanize those we have considered criminal. Rather than looking at individuals as the unwanted other we must begin to learn their stories and connect with them as people again. We must aggressively seek to eradicate the incarceration of our young people and provide services rather than prisons.
Though once outlawed, at the beginning of the twentieth century, private corporations once again can own and operate prisons for profit. The juvenile justice system is the feeder for these privately owned adult prisons, if we are going to dismantle this injustice—profitable imprisonment—we must choke out its feeder system. Once these children enter the system it is almost impossible to get out because it is profitable for those who have the greatest influence on lawmakers.
The words above, of which I am certainly aligned, is where I have a radical departure from many of my more conservative friends. Most of them simply want to lock ’em up and throw away the key. It reality they seem to get their way much more often than I do. Once a young person, especially one of color, is labeled a misfit they are for the most part doomed to a future of incarceration. The juvenile justice system is indeed a feeder for a profitable imprisonment.
I’m sure there are multiple reasons why people of color make up a very disproportionate share of the overall prison population in this country. Far too many to be addressed in a single post. But it seems the most obvious place is when they are youths. Many times the families are just too entrenched into their state of despair to give much encouragement to their kids. We need to start when they are very young to keep them out of the system. They need to be shown very early that education is their path to a better times.
For the last twenty-five years or so I have been an antagonist of our sports agenda here in this country. It seems that just too many kids, especially those of color, see their future as a professional athlete. That is a very lucrative path for those that accomplish it but for every one of those there are a thousand more who will never gain any income for their sport of choice. Many kids spend ALL their energy and time trying to be a super kicker, passer, hitter, or whatever to the exclusion of everything else especially their educations. As a result of this I simply see our sports fanaticism in this country as a net liability. It is simply something we would be much better off without.
I have probably seen more than my share of felons and for the most part all those guys are caring individuals who got lost in our society in one way or another. Since there are currently three people unemployed for every job that comes up they struggle for months to even get a chance at any employment. Once you are deemed a felon most doors simply close in our society.
We need to make it a bigger priority to prevent that from happening….