From School to Prison. : ThyBlackMan

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

From School to Prison.

June 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Remember when or if you misbehaved in school and you got sent to the detention room after school, completed an in-school suspension which was torture if you were a popular student or if you were on a first name basis by the principal, you were sent to their office, immediately? Well today, in the African American communities, children are pushed out of school and introduced into the juvenile justice system which instead of rehabilitating them while in their youth, they “graduate” on as adults into a life of crime and wind up lost in the criminal justice system.

Here’s a quick scenario of how this happens, continuously. Meet 10 years old, David Williams who suffers from mental health issues due to growing up in a very violent home. His father is currently incarcerated for thirty plus years downstate in a prison, of which he has no access to visiting or receiving any real male guidance from him. His mother is working two jobs, rarely home and living paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes that’s just not enough to take care of him and his other three siblings. Heard this story before? Keep reading…

David, goes to school hungry and tired, can’t stay focused on his schoolwork, therefore he “acts out” in almost every class. School counselors and teachers have done all that they can do with the lack of resources available to assist David. David and the school’s bully Adam, have a fight one day during recess, David hits Adam in the head with an air pump. The principal is fed up with David’s behavior and calls the police and has David arrested for a physical assault on another student.

David who is typically a quiet student, is whisked away in a police car and headed to the prescient while the whole school is watching or will hear about it before 5th period English. David “crime” is serious and he has now been officially charged with Aggravated Assault. His mother can’t post bail and now he just sits in jail for six months, all from what a fight? That’s how our black boys and now girls, are being pushed out from school to prison.

Fast forward some years and definitely some more of his delinquent behaviors as David grows into his adolescent years. David is now sixteen years old, still living in poverty with his mother and three siblings. He’s been in and out of juvenile jail several times, hangs with the wrong crowd and steal cars and go joy riding every now and then with his friends. One day, one of his friends convince David to cut school early, the friend brings a gun along when they decide to scare an elderly white woman out of her 2009 Buick car at a local gas station. She calls the police once she makes it to safety and now the manhunt has begun on the local news: Two Teens, on the Run for Armed Robbery.

David is caught shortly afterwards thanks to someone who posted the crime scene on Snapchat, and he is slammed behind the bars of the juvenile justice, again. But this time, his charge of armed robbery is transferred to adult court and he will sit behind bars for a couple of years before he even goes to trial, in which he will eventually be found guilty and then will be sentenced to thirty years in a state penitentiary. Again, he just went from school to prison.

Prison reform is a trending topic lately in politics and amongst celebrities with increase rates of unfair sentencing of African American men and women. A black woman served over 20 years in prison for simply having known about her husband’s drug trafficking and was initially sentenced longer than that but she was pardon by former President Barack Obama. Corey Williams was recently released in Louisiana after serving 20 years in prison for a crime he did NOT commit at the age of 16. From school to prison.

How can we stop this modern day slavery of mass incarceration (The New Jim Crow)? Can this way of defining punishments to fit the crimes be stopped? These are the questions that we all need to come to the table and discuss. No longer is it acceptable to sit in silence while our children are lost behind the bars of secured facilities that are miles away from their families and other loved ones and forever placed into a system that has no intention of rehabilitating them. Please don’t just sit and watch another young black boy be killed physically or mentally by a judicial system that is not equal to all, do something!

Staff Writer; Felicia T. Simpson

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