Sadly our country locks up more people than anyone else in the world. So, I cant help think about Ice Cube’s quote “in any country, prison is where society sends it’s failures But in this country, society itself is failing.”
This mass incarceration of our population (which begin during the 1980s so-called “War on Drugs”) has had a devastating impact on our families, economy, and other society. Inner-city, poor, Black, and Latino communities and families have suffered the most.
Further, the explosion in locking up non-violent offenders has actually increased and not decreased crime. Worse, it is well documented that educational attainment (or lack thereof) has a direct relation with the likelihood of prison. The average inmate has about a 4th grade reading ability. Yet, politicians continue to reduce education funding in lieu of prison funding so they won’t look soft on crime.
Then you have the proliferation of private, for-profit prisons whose business models requires more inmates each year to operate profitably. Unbelievable… In fact, I am still trying to understand how the concept of a private prison is even legal and morally acceptable in the “land of the free.”
In closing, it is clear that we do not need more prisons in America. We need more education, more job opportunities, more mental and drug treatment, more compassion, more bold and independent minded politicians to end the cradle to prison pipeline, and, most of all, more God centered actions and thoughts. We need men and women who will place our collective long-term viability and success as a nation over their short-term ambition and successes as a person. In other words, we need true servant-leaders that understand that history is made by bold actions taken during times of crisis.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, J.D., M.Ed., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonSharrock & Associates law firm and an adjunct professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He regularly writes and lectures on issues of race, sports, and social justice. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/solospeaks