The Economic Destruction Caused by Black Mass Incarceration. : ThyBlackMan

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Economic Destruction Caused by Black Mass Incarceration.

March 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Business, Money, News, Opinion

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( Last year I spoke at the penitentiary.  I talked to the guys about entrepreneurship, post prison opportunity and beginning to plan now for when they were released (those that would be) back into society.  After the meeting I was inundated with brothers who had questions and wanted me to come back and speak on the subject again. But what stunned me the most was the number of men in prison who had owned a business and were successful before incarceration.

This led me to start reflecting on some key concepts in economic development and the impact mass incarceration of Black men has in devastating the economic condition of many of our urban communities.  According to an article in the New York Times from 2003, an estimated 12% of Black men ages 24 to 30 were in prison.  This is a truly staggering number with dramatic consequences.

Think for a minute what typically occurs between the ages of 24 to 30.  Men usually: 

  1. Start their career
  2. Buy a home
  3. Have a family

Now mind you I am not naive to the fact that many of the individuals that are serving time in prison would do all those things, but I argue that a significant percentage would.  So what then are the economic implications to the Black community by having 10% or more of that group being out of pocket for  periods of time?

1. The flow of income is reduced in the community.  This is due to the fact that when you are incarcerated the ability to get earned income and recycle dollars back into the community is eliminated.  If dollars don’t recycle and change hands in a community, businesses suffer, can’t grow and can’t employ workers.

There is a secondary consideration also.  Once you become incarcerated the likelihood of you returning to the community and becoming gainfully employed is also limited.  You have to check the box on the application. With many folks wary of hiring ex-felons the level of job and potential income is diminished for a very long time. 

2. The assets of the community are diminished decreasing Black wealth.   Although we do have a traditionally lower rate of home purchasing in the Black community, this is ever further diminished by incarceration.  Because homes are the number one asset in America the inability of an incarcerated individual to acquire this asset reduces Black wealth. After prison this is still a challenge based upon the inability to acquire credit and lack of income because of the challenges of getting a job. 

3. Generational poverty increases.  Incarcerated men cannot support a home and children. Research shows that single parent families are much more likely to be impoverished. This leads to lower quality educational outcomes for children, which in turn leads to less upward mobility and generational poverty as the cycle continues. 

Black mass incarceration is not just a social phenomenon with societal implications. Nor is Black mass incarceration simply an issue of crime and punishment.  It is an economic issue also and one that is aiding in the devastation of Black urban core economies.  It reduces community cash flow, reduces Black wealth, and reinforces cyclical generational poverty.  We must view it from this lens also and ensure that we include Black returning citizens and their struggle in any holistic economic strategy that we develop. 

It is hard to win with so many of us in the pen.  

Staff Writer; Dell Gines

For More Power Pack Business Info do visit; I Am Dell.

Also connect with this brother via Facebook; D. Gines.

Can also Contact him for speaking engagements and more information on holistic ground up Black economic development strategies –

Tel: (402) 468-8148


4 Responses to “The Economic Destruction Caused by Black Mass Incarceration.”
  1. toomanygrandkids says:

    “But what stunned me the most was that the number of men in prison who owned a successful business before incarceration.”

    What were these businesses? Were they legit? Were they clothing/shoe stores as a front for illegal drug activity? Incarcerated black males consider drug/prostitution rings as businesses. It’s difficult to believe that the inmates you spoke to were legit business owners then wound up in prison for nothing. That’s not how it goes.

    “Think for a minute what typically occurs between the ages of 24 to 30. Men usually:

    1.) Start a family
    2.) Buy a home
    3.) Have a family

    Yes, MEN/YOUNG MEN do these things. NOT the criminals in prison. Ever since the 80’s, black males in the age group above earned megabucks in the crack cocaine business. Untaxed money, mind you. They bled black communities dry so when they got/get locked up, the only income taken is the dealer’s.

    Those who are in the pen go in and out of prison as if walking through revolving doors. They commit the same (or different) crimes over and over because (insert any reaso/excuse here).

  2. Asad says:

    This phenomenon (mass incarceration) only speaks to a greater need: the need for Black Men and women to have independence from a system that would repay our tolerance of 400 years of slavery, exploitation, miseducation, and imprisonment with ….more slavery, exploitation, miseducation, and imprisonment! We need a United States of Africa, the right to govern ourselves, and the freedom from the continued persecution that the United States of America habitually heaps upon us.

  3. DG says:

    Patsy, I write about many of the solutions at What my particular intent with this article was to frame mass incarceration from a different lens. To show that every time we take someone away from the community there are both potential positive and negative economic consequences.

    So I am with you on the solution side.

  4. Patsy says:

    Very interesting article! However, there is one important thing to add: the solutions to this problem. I am convinced there are some. To improve the economy of Black people, I strongly recommend this book: Powernomics by Dr. Claud Anderson. It is available on amazon. A Must Read for Black America. It is a Marshall Plan for Black America!

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