How many people among the black community know someone who went to prison? Sadly, almost everyone knows a black man when got locked up for one reason or another. It’s so often we hear about our young boys and men making bad decisions that ultimately lead them to the prison system. It’s also too often that our black men get locked up for years for non-violent crimes. It’s too often our men are falsely accused as well.
When it comes to black male incarceration rates, The Business Insider mentioned that in state prisons (2016), African-Americans were incarcerated at 5.1 times more than whites. Yet, 77 percent of the US is whites, while only 13 percent are black. In 2005, Wisconsin’s jail and prison incarceration rate of blacks was 4416 per 100,000 to just 415 of whites. As of 2016, we still have the highest incarceration rates in the country.
The questions that come to my mind is what causes this to happen so often? What can be done to prevent it? What is it that will make a first offense criminal not have second offense? How can we change our city? Are our black men being guided?
These questions linger in my mind as a look at how imperative it is for us to unite. We need a change in our community. Millennials are booming left and right, starting their own businesses, working for progression, and even launching their own books. There’s so much positivity going on in Milwaukee but what are we doing collectively?
After seeing When They See Us, many people were exposed to the wicked truth about the justice system. For those who believe the police, judges, and other government officials always do the right thing were sadly mistaken. And to think they were the only ones who were ever falsely accused would be a lie. Just look at the statistics. But again, what can we do?
In my opinion, we need more leaders who are not afraid to listen to what our young people have to say about the choice they make. They need more inspirational influencers in their lives to let them know that they too can make a difference. Our millennial and young people are our future and I truly believe it’s up to us to let them know their worth. We all have a role to play, and a position to hold.
I think restructuring the system and what makes you a “criminal” is a start. For instance, Illinois just legalized marijuana and over 770,000 cases are available for expungements. That is a huge number. All of those cases were non-violent but each person was still considered a criminal.
The saddest part to me is the aftermath of these crimes in states that have yet to legalize. Felons have the hardest time after that one mistake that they made. They can barely find a job or even be approved for housing. I think because it’s so complicated for them to get on their feet they give up and go back to what they know. It’s unfair in a way, in my opinion. I think it shouldn’t be so “easy” to become a felon.
In essence, I believe re-identifying what makes you a criminal would be a great start. No it’s not going to happen in a day or a year but if we begin the process, many lives will be changed. Let’s always remember to stick together. Help each other always and spread love.